sometimes i have a student who says something like:

"i'm working on all this new stuff and then i go out to a gig and i sound terrible!"

remember, when you're on a gig you have to be you. you have to be the person who jams in their living room without a care in the world about what kinds of altered diminished voicings you were working on a few hours ago.

when you practice, you think and focus on what you're doing, you do it slow, and these things help your muscle memory.  if you practice something enough, the muscle memory becomes attached to a sound and then you are able to use it when jamming.

if you have to work out a chord, or think of the chord's formula while you are performing, the only thing that can possibly happen is that your performance will suffer.  who are you trying to impress?  yourself?  no one knows what you are working on, they don't need to hear an unfinished product.

what should happen is that you put enough time into something, then through that muscle memory/sound in your head connection, it will just start happening all on it's own during yoru performances.

granted, you have to practice right.  let's say you're working on a diminished chord pattern.  you know you can throw this pattern in whenever you have a 7th chord acting like the 5 of the next minor chord.  so the way to practice this is take out your favorite or current tune and start putting this new idea into it.  find those 7th chords and force your new chord pattern into them.  this is what practice is all about.

the more you force your new ideas during practice into the tunes you like to play, the more these new ideas will start automatically coming out in your playing without the need to over-think them and mess up your performance.

practice from the head, play from the heart.  never ever try to use your new stuff in a performance.  just practice it correctly for enough time until it comes out naturally.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

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There are 5 comments, leave a comment.
great post scot. it reminds me of a couple a of quotes.  dr. john said (paraphrased) that "the bandstand is not the place for practicing.  when you're up there, play what you know."  i've also gotten into kenny werner's stuff recently (thinking of writing a separate post on it) and he says something similar about how you need to play at your current level when performing as opposed to trying to pull of things you haven't mastered yet.
i second ziggsane's comment.... great post.. also another thing kenny werner said in his blue note master class (can be found on you tube) is where he quoted charlie parker as saying something like "you learn all your chords, scales etc and then you forget all that sh*t and just play"... it took ages to absorb this message, then the light went on upstairs... in a certain sense it takes 'faith' to believe that by practicing this way, the stuff will eventually make it into your playing without you forcing it on the music.  this is 'very' valuable information to those who are ready to understand what it means, and to start applying it to their practice/playing.
to follow up: i was jamming with one of the students at the school where i teach on some ray charles riff (a blues in f).  i was riding it out, and all of a sudden i wanted to get fancy by throwing in some more hip lines.  sure enough, i started sputtering as soon as i tried to play something other than what i was hearing.  the lesson?  even when you get scot's message, it takes constant vigilence to make it a reality in your playing.
amen, brothers.
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<br>thank you, useful.
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Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

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