Tuesday, March 15, 2005

hmm hmm hmm

Morning: I’m already seeing the benefits of keeping this practice journal. One of the big things that I’m noticing is the sort of ebb & flow of my workweek. Sometimes my chores and job requirements can get in the way of my practice time. By keeping track of my time I’m actually seeing the times of the week that I’m most productive, practice-wise, or really have the most downtime available to practice. Either way, today is one of the good days for practice. I’m a couple days out of practice and I’m fresh from a lesson with Tim Miller, so I have a lot of things going for me.

This morning I spent some time working exclusively on the first section of All The Things You Are. I whittled it down to 8 bars and then put in into my loop station. That loop station is a lifesaver. I recorded my self playing through the 8 bars 4 times and then listen back. Play then listen, play then listen. It’s such an awesome way to make observations. It’s like a delayed mirror reflection. I was working on being aware of my note choices. I was trying to think as much as I can through the changes: thinking chord tones, tensions, arpeggios, substitions, etc. After playing through if for a while and making observations about my playing, I began to see a change in my sound. I was grasping the changes stronger and my phrasing was coming out very differently. It was kind of like my experience yesterday, but this time I felt like a horn player; actually, a horn player and a piano player. Needless to say, it was a lot fun and a good feeling to sound the way I was.

Afternoon: I had some time away from my pedals today & had to practice the old fashioned way. I used the metronome and my acoustic guitar and just ran through changes. I find it easier to solo this way. I’m in charge of the chord progression and I have be in charge of where I am in the piece. The funny thing is, when I’m playing with a comping track or another musician, I spend a lot of time listening to where I am instead of knowing where I am. It’s almost like I’m expecting myself to forget where I am in the changes and have to listen to find my way back. I think this has illuminated an important block for me. I hope I can do something with it.

Evening: I worked on more of the same this evening. It’s nice to bring some focus to my practice time and see the results. I worked on the same 8 bar loop of ATTYA and observed solo after solo. I’m getting stronger with the chord tones, but my phrasing wasn’t as nice this time around. I’m having less trouble following the changes. Because it’s only 8 bars and I’ve listened to it so many times, I’m getting the hang of it. I’m also, just for the record, doing this by ear. I’m not looking at a lead sheet. A common thing I noticed with my improvising was that it was much more compelling at the beginning and the end then in the middle. It’s almost like I zone out over content in the middle of my solo, but when I begin and end I’m pretty aware and intentional about what I’m doing. I think that’s the difference between this morning’s and this evening’s improvising. In the morning I had much more intention.

Later I worked on a Beatles tune that I’m working on for a client. They wrote a bunch of great tunes.


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