Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Daily Jazz Scales and Arpeggios

January 5, 2017

I knew that if I was going to take lessons, I would have to be in shape. That means scales and arpeggios. So I made a rule that I would practice them an hour every day. Here’s how I did them:

I concentrated on one key a day, going around the circle of fifths, first with major, then with it’s relative minor: i.e. C major, A minor, F major, D minor, B flat major, G minor, etc. A metronome or drum machine was usually going – varied tempos – and I often used a reference tone for intonation.

Arpeggios – I did fifteen minutes each of tonic triads and dominant sevenths with straight (example 1) and mixed (examples 2 – 4) rhythms. Examples 3 and 4 are especially good to do with the bow. I also did progressions of diatonic triads and sevenths (examples 5 and 6).

Scales – fifteen minutes each of tonic and dominant.

To make it relevant to jazz soloing, I decided to concentrate on eighth-note bebop scales, (examples 7 and 8). But instead of starting and ending on beats (square), I added notes – a chromatic leading note at the beginning and an extra chord tone at the end – so that each phrase starts and ends on off-beats (hip). I did these beginning on each chord tone (examples 9 and 10).

Yes, I did this every day, going between upright (bowed and pizz) and electric, starting slowly (for tone and intonation) and not getting really fast until the end of the session.

Since we’re on the topic of daily practice, I’m also continuing the rule of recording myself every day without fail. This has been the most helpful feedback ever! Do this!



You can download this as a .pdf here: jazz-scales-and-arps-for-blog


Practice time

November 27, 2008

I like to have a set goal for the amount of time I will practice in a day. That way I’m not tempted to say “good enough” and quit early. A time commitment makes it more likely that you will work on details you would otherwise skip. While at Indiana, my goal was to practice 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. I achieved a little over 3 1/2. A great goal for an undergrad would be 2 hours.

For me, the earlier in the day I begin, the more likely I’ll achieve the goal. I tried to get 2 hours in before lunch. Also, it is easier to focus in the morning, before other things compete for your attention. A good morning session tends to make the rest of the day feel good as well.

Practice – goals

November 27, 2008

When you practice, try to have a specific goal in mind. Otherwise your session can become passive and aimless.

Some sample goals:

1. Play the most complicated measure of the piece SLOWLY five times in a row with correct bowings and fingerings.

2. Play the most complicated measure of the piece for memory in front of a mirror.

3. Play the most complicated measure of the piece cleanly five times in a row one metronome click faster than I did yesterday.

The problem that everyone faces is that the ego wants to be stroked – we want to quickly run through the music to prove to ourselves that we are good. Having a specific goal can get the ego to shut up long enough for us to improve. Rule of thumb: if you aren’t sounding beautiful you should change your focus.

Also, know that you can only learn one thing at a time! Your goals can prevent you from being overwhelmed by trying to improve all aspects at once. Then you can finish your session with a feeling of satisfaction rather than frustration. You and your ego end up being friends!