3 Things to Consider When Practicing and Learning Jazz

1. Am I practicing all the skills I need to be to play competently?

Like Bret Vaarstra says in his 7 Day Jazz Practice Routine, the three main categories to focus on when practicing are Technique, Repertoire, and Language.

For technique, practice your scales and modes, arpeggios, digital patterns, etc. Try playing through the scales using different diatonic intervals and patterns. There are numerous useful routines online for practicing technique.

In regards to repertoire, make sure your familiarizing yourself with jazz standards; that is to learn their chord progressions and melodies in common keys, and to know how to solo over common forms.

For Language, find licks you think are cool and get them in your fingers in all keys.

2. Think about playing with other musicians, even if you can’t practice with other musicians.

While you’ll likely often practice by yourself, jazz is best enjoyed with others! It is helpful to practice with backing tracks and to try to jam with friends other musicians. Jazz is improvisational and people play differently, this will help ensure your ear for others is developed and that you can respond to different musical situations with your instrument.

3. Dig What You’re Playing!

You’re not going to wanna work to hard on your instrument if you’re not picking tunes and vocabulary you like. Find stuff that you enjoy listening to and playing.

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