This blog is designed as a record of what I’m working on during my daily practice routines for my own record keeping and for anyone who’s interested in what I’m working on.
This is a general overview for more detail (i.e patterns, voicings, licks, theory, etc) please E-mail me to book a lesson or if you have a quick question @ email@example.com
I’ve been doing a similar warmup/technique routine for about a year now and I find it really works well for me. The goal is to keep my fingers strong as I do a lot of demanding things when I play and have to keep my hands in great shape. I also try and keep what I’m working on relevant to my improvising. Also be sure to always stretch first!
All of the following are with a METRONOME
1. Half/Whole Dimished Scales Hands Together – Entire Keyboard followed by Select Patterns
I find these scales starting on each diminished cycle scale degree (C Eb F# A, C# E etc) are a great way to get my fingers moving and there very useful and practical to play fast. I use them constantly while improvising and they sound great in many different instances.
2. Whole Tone Scales Hands Together – Entire Keyboard followed by Select Patterns
Another set of useful scales I alternate which scale degrees I start on but I like to use C and C# the most.
3. BeBop Scales – First with 4-note L-Hand Voicings Then Hands Together (2 Octaves) Then Various Licks/Patterns
These are awesome!!! Very useful scales that are ALWAYS applicable. I start on the First Third Fifth and Seventh scale degrees and then play descending. After that I move into various lick and patterns following the same L-Hand Voicing Structure. Usually L-Hand comping is on the upbeats of 2 and 4.
4. Arpeggios – The only real “Classical” technique I still do. Full Piano, Both Hands, Major and Minor.
I still like to do these as I find there very good for building strength and just having a good view of the piano in your mind. I do root position and both inversions and I play them in triplets alternating accents, dynamics, and speed. I aim for around 100BMP playing all 72 arpeggios with no mistakes first try. This doesn’t happen often 🙂
5. Fourth Voicings/Workout – I practice 2 handed 4th voicings and then L-Handed voicings with different RH patterns.
These are also VERY useful and I use them quite a lot. I have a large variety of different patterns I use but I try and move the chords around quickly, accurately, and most importantly McCoy Tynerly.
6. Drop 2 Voicings/ Locked Hands. Four Way Close first with doubled melody then with Drop 2. Major Then Minor
I’m only recently getting quicker with these and everyone says this but it’s true: You HAVE to feel them under your fingers. If you try and think about each one you’re done. Often times I’ll sit there thinking about a particularly nasty one, playing it over and over making mistakes then stop thinking and play it perfectly.
7. Stride. LHand first then adding Right
Another recent addition I usually start off with a ii-V-I that I dislike for example B or E major. And I do just the left hand for about 15min trying to not look at the keyboard. Then I add in my RH and try and improvise. After that I’ll usually take a tune and then do the same thing.
That’s it for my technical warmup. This is pretty static and I find it just works for me. This usually takes 2 hours but can take more or less time depending on if I’m adding in some new patterns or not. I *TRY* to do this every day which doesn’t always happen. I’m usually very good about it leading up to a recording/gig and I’d say on average I probably do this 5 times a week.
The Fun Part
This section will change a lot more than the warmup as I’m usually working on new things weekly.
I’m currently (as in right this second) working on the tune: The Masquerade is Over namely the Keith Jarrett version off Standards Vol 1.
What I try and do when I learn a new tune is after I’ve got the melody and chords by memory I try and play the tune using locked hands (double melody), then with stride LH and other more “jumpy” LH patterns, walking bass line, and finally my mix of the two (with Bud Powell and 4 note LH voicings.) My stride has been getting a lot better recently and maybe in a month or so I’ll unveil it 🙂
I’m currently transcribing Keith’s solo and I’ll add it to the transcription page when it’s finished.
I’m also working on a heap of older Jazz standards that I consider more dinner music/singer standards to try and broaden my more standard knowledge.
This is also the part where I also just play w.e. I want. Usually I’ll have 5-10 tunes that I just really like playing which I’ll play and try new ideas on. Currently some of those are: Steps-What Was, Windows, Dolphin Dance, Loud Zee, On A Slow Boat To China, Bye Bye bbird, Monk’s Mood, and MANY MANY more.
I always do a lot of metronome work more recently I’ve been playing tunes and moving the metronome around so it falls on different up and downbeats. I’ve also been trying to put in on every 4 bars and things like that which are a lot of fun and can be very revealing. A recent practice that Joe Iannuzzi and I have been doing while were away from our instruments (driving etc) is putting the metronome at 40 and having it tick once every 2 and then 4 bars. We then try and mix subdivisions in our head such as Triplets into Sixteenths, eights, quintuplets, etc and then try and land on the downbeat. Joe can pretty much hit it every time right off the bat but it takes me around 3-5 minutes to really start hitting them perfectly. The more I do it the more that time reduces which is great, plus Joe’s a drummer ^.^
I’ve also recently been doing A LOT of writing. I pretty much have 2 albums worth of originals that I’m quite fond of which I’m currently trying to turn into arrangements for horns etc. I hate making charts so that’s kind of the downside. I’ve found with writing the more I do it the more chords/melodies/harmonic devices begin to feel like old friends that kind of have a special place/use. It’s a lot of fun and hopefully I’ll have a chance to record a lot of them soon.