hey guys

just curious to know how you guys organize your practice routine....how long? are there breaks involved? for those that stll play classical....how much time do you spend on that?

thanks ya'll

There are 14 comments, leave a comment.
here's my ideal routine. sometimes stuff comes up to doesn't let me follow it. like right now i have to learn 150 tunes (no charts, just a cd) for pop band. so that's what i'll be working on this week. anyways here's my normal routine, which phil degreg sugested at an abersold camp. i've modified it a bit....

1.technique: warm up stuff like hanon, scales, arpegios, patterns for jazz book, and i end that segment by playing through a  jazz transription or bach piece that i have memorized.

2. harmonic: chord vocings. maybe play a particular vocing or sequence (ii v i, blues, rythm changes or comp on a tune, walking bass lines) in all 12 keys. i usually do one key a day or if a particular key is hard all stay with that key a few sessions.  

3. melodic: i take fragments or licks and play them in all 12 keys. usually i'll play lh chors or bass lines, while the rh does the licks. i get the licks from books, transriptions, or melodies that i like or that melodies that give me problems.  

4. reading: full score, lead sheets, single lines, easy method book type stuff, hard stuff.... sometimes i check out books from the public libray. lately i've been playing stuff really slow and trying to be as accurate as possible.

5. transcribe: full solos (all sorts of instruments) parts of solos, melodies, things i need to learn for gigs.... i try to do a alot of singing of solos along with the recordings (in the car,while taking a jog/walk, doing yard work, in a airplane) sometimes i'll have the solo memorized (singing) before i even try it on the piano.

6. ear training: this i ussulay do away from the piano. i'm one of those geeks that carries a pitch pipe with me where ever i go. i pracice/ sing interval scales, chords, try to figure out the key of songs i hear one the radio.....

7. tunes: i try to set aside a least half my pracice time for working on new tunes and reviewing old tunes. i keep a list of my tunes that i work from. i play along with abersolds and midi files and try to improvise and work in some of the licks that i'm working on.

it take my at least 2.5 hours to get through my routine. normally i break it up. one hour before work, a half hour after work before dinner, and as long as i can go after the kids are in bed.  

as far as classical goes, i only play pieces that i learned along time ago (like bach) as use it for warming up. i wish i had time to work on classical but jazz keeps me pretty busy!
i think the most important thing in any time you spend working on things is balancing a great,complete approach like the one described above with the "avoidance/focus" syndrome-i.e.pianist x,who tries to cover everything in their routine,does so with the underlying semi-conscious awareness that at their last public/group experience,a given musical situation they have yet to really work on/master was the one thing they ended up concerned with,yet because of all the extra-musical factors involved,this is put on the back shelf in favor of everything else with the rationalization that it's "too hard" etc. at their level of development...when starting out the practice sesssion with an approach to said given situation is really the way to go.......
smg...your sentence above is really confusing, but after reading it about 3 times, i think i got what you said and i really agree.  for the last couple of years, i worked on theory and technique and practicing, and it didn't really show in my gigs.  then, just the last couple of weeks, i just listened to my favorite recordings nonstop, played with the recordings (semi-transcription style), and it seemed to help my last gig much more than all that theoretical stuff i did.
in my opinion you should practice what you need to practice.

an effective way to get concious of what you need to practice is playing with others.

there you will notice if you have problems soloing, with voicing, recognicing notes, and so on.....

so, practice what you need to practice.

another good way to know what you need to practice is to record yourself and wait for a day to hear what you have recorded. taking on account that you "are listening" to jazz after each meal =) then you will notice if you need to improve something on your playing. write it down....make of yourself your own reality show and be your own judge.

based on your conclusion....guess what??...... practice that..!!!

my two cents..
i agree, practice what you need to practice.

i try to record and take mental notes of my gigs. my last gig i totally folded on the brige to "jurdu" this week i've  making all sorts of exercises out of that section. hopefully i won't fold on it again!
that's exactly what i was talking about this am -

"worked on theory and technique and practicing, and it didn't really show in my gigs.  then, just the last couple of weeks, i just listened to..."  

"practice what you need to practice"

"making all sorts of exercises out of that section..."

(btw this file i keep on directing everyone to has concrete examples of an approach to this,and directly addresses this dichotomy...)


another thing mentioned in the first excerpt above touches on the important aspect of improvised music as a "creative art form" which sometimes works best when all you do is "sit down and play" once you've attained the level you want vs. being involved in 24-7 practice.....i.e. practicing for a gig then "laying back" for a few days before it...........
my method is completely different. i don't practice the same thing repeatedly. i practice it till i know it then i move on. hopefully whatever it is will appear in what i play.

my method is to make a list of problem areas. each practice session, i hit 2-3 problem areas on focus on those alone. this way you're actually fixing your list and making specific progress.

the one thing i hardly ever do is practice meaningless exercises. i will do scales because i specifically want to improve some aspect of it. otherwise i focus my time on something musically practical, almost always related to a tune.

thus, a typical practice session from me would not be the same from day to day. i do try to mix technique problem areas with performance problem areas.

since it is known that you can't practice a single problem area and expect it to resolve it in a single practice session, it becomes essential to do it over a period of time and not for too long each time. by handling multiple issues, perhaps in a week or two, i would have improved in these multiple areas. i have found that this is the most efficient use of time.

i practice approximately 3 hours every day. this is all piano time. i do listening at other times often right before i sleep.
i should listen to more songs, that way i would know some!!

i'm mainly in this for fun, but i have a song, just a simple melody with chords etc that i made up, and whenever i come across something (new voicings etc) i work it into the song.

the rest of the time i play bits of songs which i pick up without trying to hard.

if i put together a piece of music then i will play that.  this method seems very inventive, i have quite a few music ideas and a couple of (not so good) songs, but i still dont really know any tunes.
jazzwee, i like your routine, it makes sense to me.  i play as a hobby, so i don't normally have 3 hours a day, and i've drifted from one practice routine to another in search of one that works best for me.  the last couple of weeks, i've been doing it the way you described above...i just play a song that i like and start going through it measure by measure playing along with it.  for the hard parts, i'll stop and practice it until i get it right and then move on.  for things i can't do, i'll either let it go or if it's something that keeps coming up, i'll turn that into another sub-practice routine temporarily.  i'm not sure yet since i haven't done it long enough, but i think this method will be far more fruitful than just practicing exercises.
i structure my practice around the exercises in "metaphors for the musician"
combined with about 60 standards and a handful of blues songs.
thanks superboy. i've fashioned the routine to not do something i already do well over and over. so if you only have an hour, it's even more important to focus on what you work on. "fruitless exercises" as you call it, can be good until you know how to do them. after that, what's the point? warmup? if you only have an hour, you may not have time left.
the habit of"just practicing exercises" can be reworked so that you're still working on your technique,lines,etc,but in the context of a given chord progression/structure/harmonic situation........
jmkarns, you said: i structure my practice around the exercises in "metaphors for the musician"

i'd be interested to know what you have found most useful, and if you have any good ways of turning his concepts into daily exercises.


i currently use 'metaphors' randomly to work on scales ( i dislike  
routine).  it allows me to work on single concepts slowly over an hour.  i am still working on playing in every key, and rather than just a terse circle of fifths chart he has organized whole pages on scales, keys etc. in a creative way.  i read scott's review of the book and now i just keep it at my piano as a handy workbook.
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