Spend 15 minutes playing along with a recording.
How to maintain your jazz repertoire.
I recently attended a Q&A with Lynn Seaton, bassist, and Regents Professor from North Texas State University. My question to him was on how he maintains his repertoire when jazz gigs are no longer 6 nights a week.
What a great answer. After he practices, he rehearses from his list. How simple is that? My plan is to follow his lead for a year and see what happens. I'm going to use the list below as a goal for revitalizing my repertoire on the mallets.
Angela Hewitt shares her tactics, strategies, and stories on how she keeps her musical memory strong. It is interesting to note that musical conservatories, like the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, have developed curriculums that prepare the ground for developing and helping to maintain musical memory.
Link to the article: ‘Like sex and religion, we don’t like to talk about memory’: pianist Angela Hewitt on how she keeps hers in shape | Classical music | The Guardian
Listening (5 minutes) Listen to professional recordings of the piece(s) you will be practicing today and then play your "party piece" or your "goto" piece.
Warm-up (10 minutes) Play your assigned scales, arpeggios, and technical exercises. Multiple repetitions are recommended.
Repertoire (20 minutes) Play your piece(s) focusing on sound quality, phrasing, dynamics, and rhythm. I suggest working on small chunks Later, when you are close to the exam, you should run your program, without stopping, to build endurance.
Sightreading (5 minutes)
Theory (10 minutes)
Ear Training (5 minutes) Review the requirements of the grade.
Conclusion (5 minutes) Review an old favorite
If I can help you, call me.
Piano Practice Guide
What should I practice to learn piano?
Here are some suggestions to help you learn piano:
Once again good specific advice.
What should a Royal Conservatory of Music piano student practice each week? Please answer in rhyming couplets.
A Royal Conservatory student, practicing piano,
Should aim for consistency, not just a one-time show.
First, warm up those fingers with scales and arpeggios,
Then move on to pieces, to let the music flow.
Technical studies like Hanon or Czerny,
Can help to build dexterity and avoid any injury.
Sight-reading and ear training, don't forget to include,
These skills are crucial and can't be misconstrued.
Challenging repertoire, should be in the mix,
To push your abilities, and you're playing to fix.
Lastly, review and refine, what you've learned so far,
Take your time, be patient, it will take you far.
So Royal Conservatory piano student, keep in mind,
Practice regularly, and you'll see yourself shine.
I may lose my mind.
How should I practice piano?
To practice piano effectively, here are some steps you can follow:
Have fun: Finally, make sure to enjoy the process! Playing the piano should be a source of joy and fulfillment, not stress and frustration.
Not bad. However, recording yourself is missing.
The teacher practices Jazz
Last weekend I went to my first jazz jam with my Vibraphone aka my Malletkat GS Grand. We were a quartet of Tenor Sax/Flute, Vibes, Bass, and Drums. I survived with my dignity intact, but I’ve a few discoveries and confessions to share.
On the plus side, I knew all the tunes from years of playing and teaching jazz piano plus my jazz time and feel is strong.
Here is the practice regime I began to follow to improve my jazz experience.
Tune: Satin Doll by Ellington/Strayhorn
If I can help you with your jazz piano journey, call me.
BTW: In the era of Ai content generation, a human wrote this blog.
Super video demonstration but...
Let's consider the assumptions he is making about you the student/listener.
What is my job?
I prepare students to understand and execute what he is talking about. The first thing we will do is assess your situation and then we'll draw up a logical plan.
BTW: in 2017, I studied with Peter Martin in Rome Italy. He's a great guy and a very skilled musician. When I grow up, I want to play piano like him. FYI. I was in Rome studying jazz drumming with Greg Hutchinson. Greg played in Ray Brown’s last group.
How amateurs might up their game in rehearsals
Jazz jamming is fun. Sight reading tunes each week is ok, but it is often difficult for the ensemble to improve because there will not be enough week to week repetition. So, I’m putting forth these suggestions.
The idea is that with weekly repetition, improvements can be heard. Bonus: folks will know what to practice between “jams” while flipping over two pieces each week will keep it fresh.
Learning tunes from a fake book is the hard way to go about things. Here is the Bill McBernie method of jazz practice in which you play by ear to multiple recordings.
I could recall the basic outline of the tune "A foggy day" from playing it years ago. That helped. (If you don't know the tune, you must listen until you can sing along.) Below are the recordings and the order in which I played them. Some were played numerous times as I recalled more of the melody and figured out the key. The song was played in the keys of F, C, Eb, and Bb. I played along on vibes, not piano. I focused only on the melody . As the practicing progressed, I began to recall and understand the chords.
Today I was playing it on the piano, from memory, with the chords.
Here is one profile of a successful student who thrives on boundaries, discipline, and competition.
Mei diligently practices the following activities:
If I can help your Mei; please give me a call.
Piano students often ask me, “what should I focus on in my practice sessions?” Here is my reply.
Pieces, etudes, theory, sightreading, ear training, history, technique, ensemble skills
One of my adult students was asking tonight for some help planning his practice time. He is preparing for his Grade 8 piano exam. He is an engineer, a spreadsheet kind of guy. I'm sympathetic. Here is what we discussed.
Warmup with sight reading. Use a metronome! Get into the zone.
Now start practicing
Technique with a 2-minute timer. Switch activities every 2 minutes = 15 minutes
Practice one short section to perfection =15 minutes
Theory =10 minutes
Ear Training = 10 minutes
Review completed piece or pieces 10 minutes
BOOM! one hour of accomplishment
This may work for you.
Revised August 2022
Revised August 2022
In the 1921 teaching manual “Principles of Pianoforte Practice” by James Friskin, he asserts that most students “simply do not hear all the sounds they produce”. I concur. I'm sure Friskin would be amazed at the ease with which a student can now record their practicing for self-evaluation.
Now the hard part, learning to love how we sound. I'll be honest, in the early days it will take a certain amount of fortitude. But push on in faith. You will be the first to hear the improvement and progress as you accumulate and listen to hundreds, even thousands of practice recordings. (In 13 years of playing drums I’ve 248 Gigs of mp3 recordings. It’s both humbling and gratifying to hear how one sounded a decade earlier, or even last year.)
If I can help you learn to practice effectively, call me.
Revised August 2022
What should I practice at the piano?
What to practice is the perennial question? Here are some of the thoughts gleaned from decades of personal practice and observing countless students.
If I can help, call me.
revised August 2022
What is practice math? Kim practices 10 minutes a day and Rachel puts in 60 minutes a day.
…and a year goes by.
Now let’s compare experiences.
Kim is having the time of his life, he’s learned a few pieces, played in a recital, showed off to his non-playing friends.
Rachel is also having the time of her life, she’s learned a few pieces well, played in a recital to great family fanfare, and showed off to her non-playing friends.
They are both a success. Everyone is happy, including the piano teacher, because there was clarity of purpose explicitly communicated by parents to the teacher and the child at the commencement of lessons.
Jazz is primarily about rhythm and articulations, those tricky bits that are impossible to notate. Harmony is like math, fun for many and much easier to get your head around for most than rhythm and articulation. Or so beginners believe. But when the moment of truth arrives at a jam session theory goes mostly out the window and instinct kicks in. Adam Maness explores this theme in his video "Why do I still suck".
Jorge Mabarak, on Facebook, puts it well, theory is a tool. I propose that rhythm is the key. And ear training is the secret.
Here is a practice time breakdown that may work for you:
If I can help, please call me.
Revised September 2022
These ten activities will simplify the process of learning a new piece of music.
Revised September 2022
Revised September 2022
See you in September.
Revised October 2022
Lockdown 2.0 Oh boy!
The article above supplies some great ideas to keep us practicing. I invite you to click the photo to read the article.
It is two months before the big date. What do you do? How do you practice?
Listen to great music. A musical truism: "we are who we listen to".
Try this on your next new piece.
How do I become a great pianist?
An honest question if a tiny bit naïve. If you are in a great hurry, it is going to be difficult. If you are looking for a “hack” or some shortcut, I don’t know any.
For centuries pianists have followed a standard set of proven practices.
I'm available to help and encourage you on your journey. Just call me.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.