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  1. #1

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    Dear all,

    I have been trying to come up with a medium term plan for my practice over the next few months. For context, I am an amateur with a full-time job so practice would consist of, at best, 30 to 60 minutes per day and likely less at times.

    Currently on my list:
    1. Working through Leavitt's method, starting from the beginning. I'd like to learn how to read, but I imagine I'll learn more than just this.
    2. Learning and playing over standards. One every few weeks, or whatever, learning the melody and basic harmony, spending time improvising using backing tracks etc.

    I imagine these two would be enough to keep me busy. However, Leavitt will probably only pay off in the longer term (and might be a bit boring, at times, in the interim) and trying to play standards, while important, as a beginner can be frustrating.

    I have several other books I could make use of. I have a copy of Fisher's jazz method, Fewell's melodic approach and Mickey Baker's books. There's also the internet, of course.

    Is there anything you would add as a third stream for my practice?

    For the record, one frustration I'd like to address is as follows. When I was a child I played classical violin and most of my time was spent learning pieces of music that were satisfying to play solo. I felt like I was playing music (alone). However, on guitar I don't (yet) have the chops to learn solo guitar arrangements and playing along to backing tracks doesn't give the same solo-music-playing satisfaction. Working towards being able to enjoy playing just by myself, while also working towards being able to play as part of a group would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there is something obvious to add to the mix to achieve this.

    That being said, I'd appreciate any suggestions independent of the above.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Use your ear and memorize some solos off some records.

  4. #3
    Good call. This didn't occur to me as I really don't enjoy doing it, but I should set some time aside for this.

  5. #4

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    In addition to Leavitt you can use these. Minimizes books and lots to sink your teeth into.


    https://www.amazon.com/Mel-Bay-Jazz-...8449155&sr=8-1

    https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Guitar-E...8449284&sr=8-1

  6. #5

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    The Leavitt method benefits from not following it faithfully in order. After the first half of volume 1, you can start to pick and choose those exercises and studies that will get you nearer your goal of playing solo, such as the chord studies. You can also start learning simple tunes as solos that may at this point have nothing to do with jazz, but will get you working out melodies with basic accompaniment. Old folk tunes like House of the Rising Sun, or easy standards like Summertime. Also there is good long-term benefit to playing along with backing tracks, especially in learning the melodies, from which your improvisation can then have a shape from which to build. Learn the melodies in both low and high ranges, using all the strings and positions available. Most tunes are only a minute or two long, so this may prove to be an efficient practicing segment. This is also really good for your ear-training. Playing along with recordings of great singers like Ella or Frank and copping their melodic phrasing will give your playing more life as well.

    There are countless studies of practicing that show that a few minutes daily of concentrated practice on a particular technical problem can really improve your coordination and speed, and work with a metronome to be able to gauge your progress. If you can do 20 minutes in the morning and 30-40 in the evening, you'll make steady progress. To avoid boredom, change your routine every week or two. This takes planning and organization, but is very helpful. Guitar-playing is accumulative; everything you work on mindfully improves everything else. You'll likely have a bit more time on weekends, so do some playing rather than just practicing.

  7. #6
    I'm glad to know that working through Leavitt will help with solo playing (eventually). I was a bit disappointed when opening the book up to find that the first piece was a duet, since I'm not working with a teacher. (I can, of course, use a looper pedal or something to play both parts together).

    Once I'm a bit more confident in reading resources like those Gtrman suggests will be fun to work on alongside working on improvisation etc.

  8. #7

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    Take a tune that you have the lead sheet for. In addition to learning the melody and chords, learn the arpeggios in this manner. Play through the chords playing just the root note, then just the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9, 11, 13 extensions even if the chord doesn't call for it. It will help a lot with learning the notes that make up the chords, but it will really help you HEAR how it flows. Also try learning everything horizontally, ie, learn scales and arps on single strings starting with the first available note. If your playing a C major scale on the first string start from the open E string. Try learning some of the Leavitt book on a single string and memorize the notes name/location. But rule #1 is, Have Fun. I know I forget from time to time

  9. #8

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    I like Randy Vincent Guitarists Introduction to Jazz for someone who can play a bit in other styles already

  10. #9

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    Anyway that sounds like a simple enough plan to work. Use your ears as much as possible.

  11. #10

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    Your OP outlined a pretty good plan.

    The comments are all great.

    I'd add this ... maybe a few minutes spent daily on picking exercises. Going mainly by my own experience (and weaknesses) I wish I had spent more time on picking. When you start, you can be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge you need to do good things with your left hand. But, as your chops develop, the bottlenecks seem to move to the right hand for many players.

    It's not a simple topic and I don't have a book or approach to recommend. There is a treatise on it by Tuck Andress that is worth reading, maybe not for internalizing technique, but just to get an appreciation for the level of complexity, as viewed by a great player.

  12. #11
    How well do you know intervallic and harmonic identification? There is much to be gained by a really solid foundation in ear training, not just in being able to hear what you play, but in knowing chromatic and harmonic elements that are outside of your usual neighborhood, so to speak.
    In improvisation, the ability to learn and assimilate new things is important and all too often rigorous ear training is not a part of one's foundation. The modern jazz lexicon and harmonic language can be more complex than even 10 years ago. That's where the big conceptual, facility and proficiency lies: the ear's ability to guide thought in real time. Ear training will be more important than you can know 'til you have it "in your ear".

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobheff
    Dear all,

    I have been trying to come up with a medium term plan for my practice over the next few months. For context, I am an amateur with a full-time job so practice would consist of, at best, 30 to 60 minutes per day and likely less at times.

    Currently on my list:
    1. Working through Leavitt's method, starting from the beginning. I'd like to learn how to read, but I imagine I'll learn more than just this.
    2. Learning and playing over standards. One every few weeks, or whatever, learning the melody and basic harmony, spending time improvising using backing tracks etc.

    I imagine these two would be enough to keep me busy. However, Leavitt will probably only pay off in the longer term (and might be a bit boring, at times, in the interim) and trying to play standards, while important, as a beginner can be frustrating.

    I have several other books I could make use of. I have a copy of Fisher's jazz method, Fewell's melodic approach and Mickey Baker's books. There's also the internet, of course.

    Is there anything you would add as a third stream for my practice?

    For the record, one frustration I'd like to address is as follows. When I was a child I played classical violin and most of my time was spent learning pieces of music that were satisfying to play solo. I felt like I was playing music (alone). However, on guitar I don't (yet) have the chops to learn solo guitar arrangements and playing along to backing tracks doesn't give the same solo-music-playing satisfaction. Working towards being able to enjoy playing just by myself, while also working towards being able to play as part of a group would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there is something obvious to add to the mix to achieve this.

    That being said, I'd appreciate any suggestions independent of the above.
    Don’t forget to play songs. I try to start and end every session by playing songs that I know and enjoy.
    If you enjoy it, you will do it. Just like going to the gym or working out.
    Playing songs is probably the element that brought you to the guitar and probably the activity that will keep you motivated.
    You should also try to play with other musicians regularly. That will also motivate you to continue learning and playing.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  14. #13
    Thanks again for all the input.

    Picking exercises seem like a good idea.

    Harmonic identification is certainly something I need to work on. I have occasionally downloaded phone apps for this sort of thing in the past but never really put the time into it.

    It seems to me that my original plan is a good one. I can divide most of my time between working through Leavitt and learning/playing songs. I can then round this out with some technical exercises (e.g. picking) and a bit of time spent ear training and learning solos.