The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #251

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Week 17.
    If you can't hear the harmony, you can't play a convincing melody.
    How true.

    I'm practicing all the tunes everyday, not just a-tune-a-day, which became slightly tedious last week.

    Many thanks for the continuing impetus.


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  3. #252

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    Hey guys... you've been at it a while. Impressive... in it's self. I'm just curious... does it feel like it's working.
    I didn't go through all the posts... not trying to disrupt but interested.

  4. #253
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Hey guys... you've been at it a while. Impressive... in it's self. I'm just curious... does it feel like it's working.
    I didn't go through all the posts... not trying to disrupt but interested.
    Definitely. Reg, you know I've been playing a long time so it's not my first time with the instrument (heh heh) but I do this every few years and each time I have to get psyched and each time around this point in the program (bell lap) I'm amazed that I didn't do it earlier.
    There are so many things that one must be aware of to even get a foothold on being an improvisor, no less a good one (confident, satisfied, aware of content and convincing to a listener). As a teacher, I'm at a loss to know how to introduce the different aspects...and when to. Now (palm to headslap) I'm deeply convinced that jumping in the pool and knowing there's a guiding hand(s) right there, is THE key to getting it all together.

    This time through, I'm listening much harder to what I do and things like hand positioning, hearing tonal areas in a different way that's impossible to describe (ear training through sheer brute immersion in changes) and finding an attitude in something like the way I hold my instrument, can have a profound effect on my sound. When it sounds right, I get a rush that makes me want to play more.
    This is what I got this time 'round.
    As much as I play when not in the 'program', this format is so disciplined yet fruitful, that it spills over to all other aspects of my playing.

    I teach a lot of students from the local music schools here. Increasingly with YouTube educated players there's a lot of self conscious over thinking and over criticism that keeps them from finding that Big Band School of old school learning (shut up and move your fingers every day for an hour), and the HR program is an antidote, or fortifier that can't be underestimated.
    For work with my students, there's the constant check in with another human being to answer questions, and act as a coach. I think that's important. But this is the gym, or the track, and membership is already paid for. 20 weeks where you're not allowed to second guess yourself nor psyche yourself out.

    Howard Roberts knew there are things that go with the program, things that only the player can find and wrestle with. He found a way to put it into a 20 week program. I had no idea what I'd get out of it this time, but so much I struggled with, even as a player who's been at it 3 decades, I've seen come into focus and approaching mastery of this time around.
    Strange but steady eighths makes my playing with short phrases and rhythmic playing a lot easier and better. That alone was a surprise worth the effort.

  5. #254

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Hey guys... you've been at it a while. Impressive... in it's self. I'm just curious... does it feel like it's working.
    I didn't go through all the posts... not trying to disrupt but interested.

    As a hobbyist player I've learned a lot from this project, I'm now hearing the harmonic movement more whilst playing strict constant triplets around 110-120 bpm and strict 8th note playing around 180-200bpm, but anything above this is too fast for me.

    One thing I have neglected is comping at these tempos, I've concentrated my efforts on the single note playing aspect.

    The main thing is that it's been very enjoyable.

    Big thanks to Jimmy blue Note for organising everything.

  6. #255

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    Cool, thanks

  7. #256
    Week 18
    I used to look at these three weeks as a kind of expansion of the eighth note Projects up until this point, but now I see these last weeks as a very important transition to playing completely differently and playing lyrical lines by ear. Well, this is a personal goal of mine so I've been waiting for the section on hammer-ons, pull-offs and especially slides.
    This discipline of eighth note picked lines has been really good for the right hand, and shifts have become more important as I'm hearing the changes better.
    I see slides not only as a way to connect lines, but as a way to create smaller individual phrases, even if they're in a steady stream of notes. This is the gateway to playing on a single string, or as Mick referred to it, the UNITAR way of playing.
    I look forward to hearing how you guys feel changes in your playing with these new devices.
    There's a suggested list of projects but it's only a suggestion. Have fun!
    20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-06-24-3-00-07-pm-png20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-06-24-3-00-39-pm-png20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-06-24-3-00-57-pm-png20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-06-24-3-01-30-pm-png20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-06-24-3-02-09-pm-png

  8. #257

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    One of the reasons for doing this course was that I'd like to increase my speed, currently I'm around 200bpm with mostly 8th notes, I'm playing repeated licks, but hopefully I'll get more creative over time at faster tempo.

  9. #258
    Week 19 already?
    20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-07-03-8-51-08-am-png
    20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-07-03-8-55-42-am-png
    We're continuing with a project a day with slides, pull offs and hammer-ons.
    I find that these left hand devices have a real effect, not only on how fast I can play, but how smoothly I can phrase.
    When I slide into an accented note, or hammer-on to or off of an accented or chord tone, it has a real effect on sound and flow. This past week has been a great opportunity for me to really integrate my left hand movements with the sound that I'm getting. I really encourage you to try these devices out. It's really changing a lot about the way I'm playing and I'll be working with these things long after next (our final!) week. Not only for speed, but for sound and harmonic awareness.

    The projects are just suggestions. Take them or pick and choose what you want to work on.

    Frankly, I'm very pleased that improvements on my own playing, finding different right hand techniques depending on whether I'm ascending, descending, combining chordal segments...etc, are a real surprise I had NOT anticipated when I began this time. Very satisfying!

  10. #259
    Week 20
    20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-07-10-11-47-03-am-png20 weeks to a higher level of proficiency: Howard Roberts Super Chops one more time.-screen-shot-2023-07-10-11-46-43-am-png
    A very exciting marking of the last week of the program. There are HR's suggestions of the projects he offered. It's really up to you to pick and choose what you'd want to work on at the top tempo using what ever left hand techniques you can employ.

    At this speed and at this point, it'd be really great to hear what this program has done for 1) Your right hand technique, 2) Your left hand accuracy and the different things your fretting fingers have gained confidence in and 3) How your ear has become a part of your playing to a degree it may not have at the start.

    These 20 weeks are presented as a chops building exercise program, but looking a little deeper, for me it's really an intensive integration program in hearing, harmonic vocabulary, shifting techniques that facilitate phrasing, finger awareness and how knowing what I'm trying to play is made so much easier to play when my hands are in a good place before I even sound a note, and the power of daily commitment.

    One of the advantages of working on your own is you can focus on what you perceive are your weaknesses or strengths to make your own program. One of the disadvantages is you can tell yourself that you're not ready to conquer your own emerging abilities and frontiers because you have no idea of how to do it.

    This 20 week program has been great to re-visit because it's a finite time frame. What's 20 weeks of effort? If it takes you to the next level, a plateau you never imagined you'd be at, what's to lose? That's perhaps the greatest virtue of being in a school, or a big band, or a working band: It doesn't give you the luxury of not making progress.

    Any thoughts as we take on the last week here?

    I'm really glad I've done this again. I feel like the inertia is strong to really progress more. I'm looking at lists of tunes and giving myself a half dozen tunes to use this treatment on, only with the added freedom of using space and any note values I choose. Call it Super Phrasing Chops.

    On to the last week of Projects!

  11. #260

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    I think I have improved immensely over the last 20 weeks. It's not the main thing, but I've always wanted to improve my speed, so I'm trying for 200bpm, probably at the expense of musicality. I might a post video of the culmination of my adventure. Legato is my thing.

    Once again, thanks for running this Jimmy BlueNote.

  12. #261
    Under the category of "Things this program can do"... When I don't spend as much time on the instrument, my soloing is full of those "NO! Not THAT phrase (lick, habit, thing...) again! We're haunted by the things our hand does out of habit and convenience, to keep us safe from playing out of control or stumbling into wrong or meaningless wandering.
    Working on a project for a week, and REALLY committing to it can open up the ears and let us build a vocabulary of other things to play. I don't remember how many revelations I happened across while engaging the 50 minute form, but some of them were really game changing once they became part of my comfort zone. For example, once I became really bored with lines that came from playing adjacent strings, I found out an entirely new set of sounds could come from simply skipping to a string one over. Now that's tough and awkward at first, but hey, we are doing this every day aren't we? Now I can include wider leaps in my playing, it's easy, it's getting smoother and it's opened up new possibilities for melodies.
    I also found that playing steady eighths, even though they ARE all eights, there are internal phrases and ways to break up the line that aren't dependent on rests and long notes; changing directions and controlling that, gives me huge new options to explore. That came from working every day in a familiar environment and looking for innovation.

    This time around did help me build a new inertia in the progress that comes from brute force of doing it.

    I've worked so many jobs in my time, and each time I became really good at even the stupidest tasks I hated. I can build a burger really fast now, several at a time. I've taken jobs as a guitar tech when I had luthier skills, and I got really good, better and faster at doing a set-up in no time and no sweat. Each time I got good at something I really despised doing for some boss I didn't even like, I thought "How much better would I be at playing guitar, which I DO love, if I put a quarter of the time I spend at a job I just do.

    Just a few thoughts for a closing week for those who did stick with the program and those who didn't (I get it. I certainly do).
    Big take away: Amazing abilities are within us to learn to play at a really high level. The list of reasons why we don't is maybe more real to us than the truth that comes from turning the fearful mind to moving the hands and opening the ears.

    Just learning to hear intervals, short phrases, long phrases and lines that can work with and off of one another has brought a more defined character to my soloing.

    I've had students who say "I don't need to practice that seriously, I'm never going to be [John McLaughlin...Joe Pass...Jim Hall...] but when they become aware of some of the levels of engagement needed to play at that level, they find they CAN play with a level of engagement, satisfaction and appreciation for music that they didn't have. It makes everything you play more satisfying.

    Yeah, glad I'm doing this. Tonight I'm working with a new tune Like Someone In Love, same treatment, record, rest, solo, rest, etc.
    Feels fresh. Looking forward '

  13. #262

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    Yes, thank you very much, David, for leading this charge. I've fallen off the wagon the past 2 weeks because of grandchildren visiting and other stuff, but I might try to finish out the 20 weeks, albeit with a hiatus! I have appreciated the discipline of the exercise. My goal has been not so much greater speed, but more musical and less mechanical playing. For whatever reason, I have found in the past few weeks that my improvisations, both with an ensemble and over song tracks I have recorded, is noticeably more coherent and pleasing (to me, at least). So, if that is due to the program, thank you HR (and David)!

  14. #263
    Thought I'd share some thoughts on week 21 and beyond.
    No doubt a noticeable area of advancement through these weeks has been hearing better, taking my musical cues now from my ear rather than off a page. This is a big graduation metric that separates beginners from musicians who can start to really play with feeling, investment and expression: Playing by ear.

    I asked myself what I can do with the Howard Roberts format that would also keep my ear growing and providing that all important three step triumverate between ear, knowledge and hands that results in expression.

    I've chosen 6 tunes that will form a focal point of my next phase.
    Each week I'd focus on a tune in a key, the following week I'll transpose it to another key, maybe a tritone away if I'm up for a challenge.

    Pick a tempo to start
    Record a backing track, reading if necessary but but vastly preferable by ear. Here's the trick: 1 chorus chords. Next chorus walking bass line. Next chorus a solo. Repeat and rinse.

    Take a break, rest and reflect.

    Solo over chords, Chords or solo over the bass line, chordal comping behind the solo.
    I've started to do this and yes it's challenging but gosh, the bond between harmony and melody is really accentuated by this approach.

    Just an idea. It's based on a duo approach that Mick and I did. He saw no distinction between how he comped and how he played. Sometimes we'd switch chords and solo lines by sections (A section solo, second A section comp, B section solo, etc) and some times he have us alternating each measure. Pretty cool and pretty challenging.

    What we've started here in these 20 weeks is shown the real practical ups and downs of the essential playing considerations in our own real time way.
    What to do with that newfound ability is up to our imagination.

    Just have fun!
    Last edited by Jimmy blue note; 07-13-2023 at 08:45 PM.

  15. #264

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    Yes, just to echo one of your points in the last entry, David, I was noticing today when playing over All Of Me and ATTYA that I was able to play more "by ear" than in the past and wasn't thinking so much about the chords and key changes ...

  16. #265
    Close the back cover of Howard Roberts in a manner of speaking. What a lovely 20 week journey! Thank you all those of you who were curious, lurked, dabbled, committed, tried in some way or ran the full length of the marathon.
    20 weeks seems like a long time and no time at all. Either way, I can't even begin to know the things that this work has opened up for me.

    Thanks for making it real!
    Remember that anytime you feel the things you imagined and fantasized about doing are elusive or beyond your abilities, your guitar is there. The answers are literally in your hands. One step at a time.

    Good luck and good sounds!