The Practice of Practice
Practice makes perfect is we practice perfectly. But, perfect practice is a tricky business. The following article from Vic Firth outlines very effective practice tactics for drummers. I've added jazz piano addendums in brackets.
In a nutshell:
a) Warm Ups (some sight reading)
b) Rudiments – learning and application of (jazz chords, modes)
c) Groove & Fills (working on your jazz licks through transcription)
d) Learning a song (using a combination of lead sheet and recordings)
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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.