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#1697923 - 06/19/11 04:48 AM Developing technique
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Hi, everyone,

I was expecting to find a lot of threads like these, maybe my Googling skills are not that great. I'm sorry if this has been covered already.

So I've been playing keys then piano for almost 12 years. I took lessons for about the first 3/4 of that time. I never practiced too much daily, and I'm far from being a great pianist.

Anyway, all the technique I developed was kind of ad hoc in the sense that it was acquired gradually and naturally when studying different songs and pieces, I never practiced scales, arppegios, the Hannon, anything. In spite of this, I'm not too discontent with my technique, it has allowed me to play more or less what I hear in my head. However, as I starded digging into jazz, I realized I still have much room to grow, and lately I've been wanting to play some runs which I have some difficulty playing. Not surprisingly, I can't play like Corea or Jarrett (not that I probably ever will).

I am trying to incorporate technique exercises into my practice routine, and therefore I would like to ask you what methods to follow, what to practice, for how long. Should I go with Hannon? How do you practice scales, 2 handed runs separated by one or two octaves along three or four octaves? Do you also practice modes and scales apart from the major/minor?

Thank you very much for your help. smile

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#1697962 - 06/19/11 08:28 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
When I do scales (which I don't always do) I do them hands together, and octave apart, four octave up and down. Major, harmonic and jazz-melodic minor. Arpeggios too. I remind myself of the modes every now and then.

For exercises to develop technique (speed, accuracy, etc) I do exercises in The Joy of Improv by Dave Frank. I have found nothing that improves my technique better than these.

Phil dr Greg's website has a section on scales for jazz which incorporates modes, rhythms, etc:
http://www.phildegreg.com/ed.html

I should also mention Ligon's Comprehensive Technique book which I'm told is truly comprehensive.

hth
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1697974 - 06/19/11 08:56 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Thank you very much for the input, that link has some good information.

What kind of exercises does Dave Frank propose?

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#1697983 - 06/19/11 09:10 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
You're welcome.

Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity



What kind of exercises does Dave Frank propose?


It's part of a method for teaching jazz improvisation. There is a thread here with some students studying from it. The exercise part (one for each lesson) is similar to hanon. He calls it jazz hanons. We do them up and down, transposing into each key. You're supposed to sing along, so it's also aural training.


Here's me doing one of them (yes, I'm that sad):
http://www.box.net/shared/mvjol9ovoh
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1698027 - 06/19/11 10:45 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
l.s. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/12/11
Posts: 12
I believe practicing scales, arpeggios, chords, Hanon, etc is a "waste of time" if you wanna learn music. Well, Hanon certainly is a completely waste of time, while scales, arpeggios and chords, if combined with other musical elements can bring very rewarding results.

Of course to be able to play Jazz and improvise one must be comfortable with all the scales, all the arpeggios and chords, so be sure to have them memorized first. What I would suggest is: spend some time learning - by heart - all the major scales (Major, Harmonic and Melodic Minor, Diminished and Whole-Tone) in every key; some time learning the arpeggios in every key; and some time learning all the 14 basic chord structures in every key. All of that in a kind of non-musical fashion, and only for a few days until you're comfortable with the tools, but without going crazy about speed and this stuff; you only need to be comfortable with the material. After 12 years of piano playing, I believe you're already familiar with those tools, so I'd suggest spending some time only with the 14 chord structures, because they are the most important part of it.

After that, I would apply everything in a musical context. For example: let's say you are learning any new Jazz Standard. Play the scales of every chord with the right hand - play a few different patterns in 8ths, 16ths, triplets - while doing some 2-bar rhythm phrases on the left hand and vice-versa, always following the chord progression and connecting the chords (if you cannot follow it, then play one chord at a time until you are comfortable with the scale and are able to follow the progression); then do the same with the arpeggios, etc. This way you develop the scales, arpeggios and chords; develop hand and hand-mind independence, master the music you are learning thus bringing your improvisation to another level. Of course, first you need to be comfortable with the tools, otherwise you will spend too much time trying to realize which one and how to use them. And start it slow, no matter how slow.

Hanon... seriously, why would you even consider that or any similar approach - Jazz Hanon or any technique exercise for that matter? If you want something for your fingers, why don't you learn all the 15 Bach two-voice Inventions? Actually, a single one of those Inventions learned deeply will do you more good than the whole Hanon book.
Apart from that, learn to play the solos from the guys you like. I wouldn't spend my time practicing technique at all, because the music itself is a technique, especially if you study improvisation and/or learn Classical Music deeply.

Quote:
lately I've been wanting to play some runs which I have some difficulty playing.


Slow it down and practice the run you would like to learn until you are able to play it; there is no better "exercise" than this. Try this: slow down the run; listen to it a lot, until you can sing it slow; increase the speed in steps, always singing it until you can do it at full speed; after you can sing it with the music, try singing it without the music, reducing the volume and see if you can follow it; after you are able to do this with your voice, sit on the piano and do the same work, play it. If you want more work, transpose the run to a few other keys, without writing it down, only using your voice as a guide. Play the first note of the run in a different key and sing the rest; once you can do it, find the notes on the piano and play it on this new key.

What do you think about it?

l.s.

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#1698108 - 06/19/11 01:39 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: ten left thumbs]
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
It's part of a method for teaching jazz improvisation. There is a thread here with some students studying from it. The exercise part (one for each lesson) is similar to hanon. He calls it jazz hanons. We do them up and down, transposing into each key. You're supposed to sing along, so it's also aural training.


Here's me doing one of them (yes, I'm that sad):
http://www.box.net/shared/mvjol9ovoh

Thanks for the link, I see what you mean. I've been checking the thread more or less regularly lately, although I never really understood how the method was structured.


Edited by heteroskedasticity (06/19/11 01:58 PM)

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#1698115 - 06/19/11 01:57 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: l.s.]
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: l.s.
I believe practicing scales, arpeggios, chords, Hanon, etc is a "waste of time" if you wanna learn music. Well, Hanon certainly is a completely waste of time, while scales, arpeggios and chords, if combined with other musical elements can bring very rewarding results.

Of course to be able to play Jazz and improvise one must be comfortable with all the scales, all the arpeggios and chords, so be sure to have them memorized first. What I would suggest is: spend some time learning - by heart - all the major scales (Major, Harmonic and Melodic Minor, Diminished and Whole-Tone) in every key; some time learning the arpeggios in every key; and some time learning all the 14 basic chord structures in every key. All of that in a kind of non-musical fashion, and only for a few days until you're comfortable with the tools, but without going crazy about speed and this stuff; you only need to be comfortable with the material. After 12 years of piano playing, I believe you're already familiar with those tools, so I'd suggest spending some time only with the 14 chord structures, because they are the most important part of it.

After that, I would apply everything in a musical context. For example: let's say you are learning any new Jazz Standard. Play the scales of every chord with the right hand - play a few different patterns in 8ths, 16ths, triplets - while doing some 2-bar rhythm phrases on the left hand and vice-versa, always following the chord progression and connecting the chords (if you cannot follow it, then play one chord at a time until you are comfortable with the scale and are able to follow the progression); then do the same with the arpeggios, etc. This way you develop the scales, arpeggios and chords; develop hand and hand-mind independence, master the music you are learning thus bringing your improvisation to another level. Of course, first you need to be comfortable with the tools, otherwise you will spend too much time trying to realize which one and how to use them. And start it slow, no matter how slow.

Hanon... seriously, why would you even consider that or any similar approach - Jazz Hanon or any technique exercise for that matter? If you want something for your fingers, why don't you learn all the 15 Bach two-voice Inventions? Actually, a single one of those Inventions learned deeply will do you more good than the whole Hanon book.
Apart from that, learn to play the solos from the guys you like. I wouldn't spend my time practicing technique at all, because the music itself is a technique, especially if you study improvisation and/or learn Classical Music deeply.

Quote:
lately I've been wanting to play some runs which I have some difficulty playing.


Slow it down and practice the run you would like to learn until you are able to play it; there is no better "exercise" than this. Try this: slow down the run; listen to it a lot, until you can sing it slow; increase the speed in steps, always singing it until you can do it at full speed; after you can sing it with the music, try singing it without the music, reducing the volume and see if you can follow it; after you are able to do this with your voice, sit on the piano and do the same work, play it. If you want more work, transpose the run to a few other keys, without writing it down, only using your voice as a guide. Play the first note of the run in a different key and sing the rest; once you can do it, find the notes on the piano and play it on this new key.

What do you think about it?

l.s.

Hi, thanks for such a comprehensive answer. Maybe I gave the impression I would be basing my practice on this, but that is not the case. I will be practicing voicings, improvising over changes, tunes, all that.

Personally, and I'm yet to test more seriously this proposition, I am not very enthusiastic about the idea of practicing the scales in a musical context, precisely because I do not want to sound like I'm playing scales. If I'm to practice improvisation, I will be paying more attention to the construction of the melodic line, its relation to the chord, etc. I may think of a scale if some chord tones are outside the key, or if I want a different sound, but I'm not much a fan of chord scale theory in the first place.

About the solos, I am exactly trying a complementary approach to the development of technique through actual playing because that's what I've always done and I feel I lack some details.
About the runs, I was talking about improvisation. I might try to reproduce what I thought at a slow level, but I think it would be more efficient to gain the technique in a more general way.

I understand Hannon won't do much for musicality, improvisational or melodic skills. I don't think it was meant for that, I was really interested only in technique with this part of my training. To put it another way, I have enough technique to play and improvise at a reasonable level, the main obstacles being musicality, comping, the melodic level of improvisation and all that different kind of "technique." I will certainly devote most of my time to that, but I would also like to be able to express some ideas that require a level of technique I have not yet reached. I do not intend to use any of the technique exercises to learn music, but only as a way to being physically capable of playing the music I learn and imagine doing actual "musical practicing."

Thank you very much for the tip on Bach, I will check that out.

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#1698148 - 06/19/11 02:48 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
While I do not see scales and hanon, etc. as a waste of time, I think the best way to get better technique is to just learn and play tunes. Find licks that you like and learn them. Just play a lot. Read the latest Keyboard Magazine with Chick Corea on the cover - he discusses this and there are some licks transcribed, too.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1698199 - 06/19/11 03:57 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: l.s.]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: l.s.

Hanon... seriously, why would you even consider that or any similar approach - Jazz Hanon or any technique exercise for that matter? If you want something for your fingers, why don't you learn all the 15 Bach two-voice Inventions? Actually, a single one of those Inventions learned deeply will do you more good than the whole Hanon book.




I have found Hanon and other technical exercises to be extremely helpful. Hanon is of course not designed to help improvisation or develop musicality but is only concerned with developing finger co-ordination, speed, evenness, stamina, precision, accuracy etc, but these are very useful in piano playing especially for someone wanting to play at a high level. If one is serious about piano playing there should be enough time to practise 15 minutes of purely technical finger waggling a day as a minimum before getting started on some Bach and other improvisational studies. Even this small amount of technical work can really help.
If you are not sure what aspects of your technique need work or how to go about working on them effectively then you need a teacher, it is not the sort of thing that you can get help with on a forum.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#1698210 - 06/19/11 04:14 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
scotpgot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 128
While I agree that learning/practicing scales/Hanon will do almost nothing for musicality, it does a whole TON for facility at the piano. After all, Charlie Parker tells us:

Quote:

“Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that and just play.”


Notice the FIRST step is learning your instrument. Think of it like this: One should be as familiar with the piano, the keys, and the ways to play them as a professional basketball player is with a basketball. In my opinion, telling someone scales/exercises aren't that important to practice is like telling that potential athlete they don't really need to practice dribbling - they should just go out and play. Well, I suppose that would work, but it's certainly not the best way.

I understand what you're saying about just learning the tunes as you go along, but I believe that is the slow way. You would have to learn each new technical aspect of a tune each time you learn a new tune. Rather I think it is much easier to learn and become familiar with scales from the beginning, develop a facility with playing the piano, and then learn to recognize when those skills can be utilized when learning your tunes.

As far as specific recommendations: scales, scales, and scales. You don't need to be doing any RCM four-octave contrary motion or anything. But a mastery of major/minor/mixolydian scales will come in VERY handy. As well as blues and whole tone scales. At least two octaves each.

Apart from that, I find Hanon quite helpful for building strength. (Though it seems most people disagree and think Hanon is worth next to nothing). Czerny has some very good exercises for building facility and familiarity with the piano. At a more advanced level - Clementi's Gradus Ad Parnassum or, of course, Chopin Etudes.

There is no such thing as a "jazz etude" or "jazz hanon". There is only familiarity with the piano, and feeling as natural playing any series of notes as possible.

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#1698225 - 06/19/11 04:30 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: scotpgot]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: scotpgot


There is no such thing as a "jazz etude" or "jazz hanon". There is only familiarity with the piano, and feeling as natural playing any series of notes as possible.


This is my experience only. I have gained greatly from doing the 'jazz hanons' in Dave's book. I am more accurate, at speed, over stretches and clusters I once found awkward, but now find comfortable. This goes for straight playing, but most especially for swing. I can give each note the precise dynamic I want, whether that's soft or a slam. I actually get physical pleasure now from swinging precisely as I want to.

It takes me less than 10 minutes a day.

Scales never gave me this, but they do help to solidify theory into my fingers.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1698227 - 06/19/11 04:34 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
l.s. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/12/11
Posts: 12
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
Personally, and I'm yet to test more seriously this proposition, I am not very enthusiastic about the idea of practicing the scales in a musical context, precisely because I do not want to sound like I'm playing scales. If I'm to practice improvisation, I will be paying more attention to the construction of the melodic line, its relation to the chord, etc. I may think of a scale if some chord tones are outside the key, or if I want a different sound, but I'm not much a fan of chord scale theory in the first place.


How would you practice scales without sounding like you're playing scales?

Practicing scales in a musical context and practicing improvisation are two different aspects - or topics - of practice. The idea of practicing scales/arpeggios/chords/whatever within a musical context is that 1) you will be getting more and more "intimate" with the material that you would later be using for your improvisation, thus giving the practice of improvisation and the improvisation itself more freedom to be worked with, 2) you will save time by working deeply on exactly what you need at that time, for there is just too much stuff to be worked on and 3) you will avoid mindless practice. I still haven't found a way to cover "everything" - or a lot - with a "technique regimen" of practice. This idea is just to work up the "material" of improvisation so, later on, you will use the rest of your time to practice what really matters - all those topics of improvisation like melodies, melodic lines, phrases, motifs, articulations, etc.

To me, the more comfortable I am with the material, the better I play and this kind of practice gives me exactly that. By working scales, arpeggios and chords in a musical context gives me a kind of "multi-disciplinary" practice, for it is always allied with some sort of hand independence practice, or thinking ahead to what comes next; and it keeps my mind working all the time, thus improving concentration and focus... and blablabla.

Well, anyways, just an addendum to my first thought and to your comment.

Ah, another one.

Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
I understand Hannon won't do much for musicality, improvisational or melodic skills. I don't think it was meant for that, I was really interested only in technique with this part of my training. To put it another way, I have enough technique to play and improvise at a reasonable level, the main obstacles being musicality, comping, the melodic level of improvisation and all that different kind of "technique." I will certainly devote most of my time to that, but I would also like to be able to express some ideas that require a level of technique I have not yet reached. I do not intend to use any of the technique exercises to learn music, but only as a way to being physically capable of playing the music I learn and imagine doing actual "musical practicing."


I deeply believe that Hanon will not help you to reach this other level of technique. Instead of Hanon, try Classical pieces - Bach Inventions aren't the only good ones, but are a great start [I did it myself and cannot tell you how much difference it made; working with real music improves all aspects of music playing - dynamics, phrases, interpretation, etc -, my reading abilities got better faster than I ever imagined possible before]. Hanon offers you a kind of mindless practice that won't bring you any real and consistent improvement - of course you will feel like you're playing a bit faster and improving, as your fingers will be slightly "stronger", but you stop doing it for a couple of days and it is all gone, it might even be harmful. Piano playing does not require strength, it requires neuronal connections to bring finger independence. And I also believe you won't get that - neuronal connections - if you don't work deeply on a piece. So, I would work on what really matters, things you said already: musicality, comping, the melodic level of improvisation and all that different kind of "technique" and get the "common" kind of technique by learning how to play real music.

Take care!

\=))

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#1698234 - 06/19/11 04:43 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: scotpgot]
l.s. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/12/11
Posts: 12
Originally Posted By: scotpgot
While I agree that learning/practicing scales/Hanon will do almost nothing for musicality, it does a whole TON for facility at the piano. After all, Charlie Parker tells us:

Quote:

“Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that and just play.”




To me, what gives facility at the piano is using the piano to make music. It wasn't made to play exercises, but music. If you want, think of the 15 Bach Inventions, for example, as an exercise; or the 32 Beethoven sonatas for piano, or Chopin Etudes, etc. It would do more and better good than Hanon or any other non-musical-mindless exercise.

Originally Posted By: scotpgot


Notice the FIRST step is learning your instrument. Think of it like this: One should be as familiar with the piano, the keys, and the ways to play them as a professional basketball player is with a basketball. In my opinion, telling someone scales/exercises aren't that important to practice is like telling that potential athlete they don't really need to practice dribbling - they should just go out and play. Well, I suppose that would work, but it's certainly not the best way.

I understand what you're saying about just learning the tunes as you go along, but I believe that is the slow way. You would have to learn each new technical aspect of a tune each time you learn a new tune. Rather I think it is much easier to learn and become familiar with scales from the beginning, develop a facility with playing the piano, and then learn to recognize when those skills can be utilized when learning your tunes.


Here's what I said before:

Quote:
Of course to be able to play Jazz and improvise one must be comfortable with all the scales, all the arpeggios and chords, so be sure to have them memorized first. What I would suggest is: spend some time learning - by heart - all the major scales (Major, Harmonic and Melodic Minor, Diminished and Whole-Tone) in every key; some time learning the arpeggios in every key; and some time learning all the 14 basic chord structures in every key. All of that in a kind of non-musical fashion, and only for a few days until you're comfortable with the tools, but without going crazy about speed and this stuff; you only need to be comfortable with the material.


I guess it is pretty much the idea of what you're talking about; we are together on this one.

\=))

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#1698245 - 06/19/11 05:09 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Some of my teachers got their technique by learning to play along with the solo note by note with the record.. some of them went as far as to be able to play along with the entire album in all keys. You might not want to do all that, but if musicality is an issue for you, this is an approach worth looking into


Edited by etcetra (06/19/11 05:09 PM)

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#1698246 - 06/19/11 05:11 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: l.s.]
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Thank you very much for all the suggestions, you've been very helpful. I will report on my findings when I actually start practicing it.

Originally Posted By: l.s.
How would you practice scales without sounding like you're playing scales?

Practicing scales in a musical context and practicing improvisation are two different aspects - or topics - of practice. The idea of practicing scales/arpeggios/chords/whatever within a musical context is that 1) you will be getting more and more "intimate" with the material that you would later be using for your improvisation, thus giving the practice of improvisation and the improvisation itself more freedom to be worked with, 2) you will save time by working deeply on exactly what you need at that time, for there is just too much stuff to be worked on and 3) you will avoid mindless practice. I still haven't found a way to cover "everything" - or a lot - with a "technique regimen" of practice. This idea is just to work up the "material" of improvisation so, later on, you will use the rest of your time to practice what really matters - all those topics of improvisation like melodies, melodic lines, phrases, motifs, articulations, etc.

What I meant is that I don't want to practice scales in a musical context (for instance comping with the LH) because I do not want my improvisation to sound like I am playing scales. What you practice is incorporated into your actual playing, and that's why I aim at keeping this section of robot practicing separate from actual practice. The advantages you point to practicing scales in a musical context still hold, I think, for practicing scales in a mechanical way.

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#1698263 - 06/19/11 05:30 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: l.s.]
scotpgot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 128
Originally Posted By: l.s.
I guess it is pretty much the idea of what you're talking about; we are together on this one.

\=))


Yes. I quite think we are. smile

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#1698285 - 06/19/11 06:10 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity


What I meant is that I don't want to practice scales in a musical context (for instance comping with the LH) because I do not want my improvisation to sound like I am playing scales.


When you improvise, are you able to switch to different scales effortlessly without thinking about it?

You can try this approach
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NehOx1JsuT4&feature=relmfu

But you still have to learn the scales well enough to know where the chord tones are instantly without thought...


Edited by etcetra (06/19/11 06:10 PM)

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#1698324 - 06/19/11 08:01 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity

What I meant is that I don't want to practice scales in a musical context (for instance comping with the LH) because I do not want my improvisation to sound like I am playing scales. What you practice is incorporated into your actual playing, and that's why I aim at keeping this section of robot practicing separate from actual practice. The advantages you point to practicing scales in a musical context still hold, I think, for practicing scales in a mechanical way.





First practise the scales till you know them inside out, all the modes of the scale, all the triads that you can get out of the scale, all the many different scale patterns you can use, as many intervals and melodies as possible, in as many different dynamics articulations and rhythms as you can (and sing along while you are doing it to improve your ear).You can think of this as building up a stock of ideas to play when it is time to improvise.

Then, when it is time to improvise, just forget all that stuff let your mind free and just have fun with whatever happens. Don't try to force out the things your were practicing but don't worry if some of them come out anyway.
In my opinion we all need both if these approaches, a methodical skill gaining approach and then a letting go creating in the moment approach. They work together to create good improvisation.

The more interesting the things you experiment with ultimately the more interesting your playing will be. If you just do scales up and down it will not be so interesting as if you play many more of the thousands of different possible note combinations.
_________________________
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#1699219 - 06/21/11 09:18 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: etcetra]
heteroskedasticity Offline
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Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: etcetra
When you improvise, are you able to switch to different scales effortlessly without thinking about it?

You can try this approach
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NehOx1JsuT4&feature=relmfu

But you still have to learn the scales well enough to know where the chord tones are instantly without thought...

Honestly, I do not think of scales at all when improvising. I started improvising long before I learned CST, and as such my approach has always been very chord tone based, with the "in between notes" being either from the major scale of the tune's key or chromatic. Even with modulations, I always think key/major scale, never mode. If I'm playing in C and a D7 comes out of nowhere, I instinctively think G major and play over that. I've never got the point of thinking dorian-mixolydian-ionian over a ii-V-I.

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#1699222 - 06/21/11 09:22 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: beeboss]
heteroskedasticity Offline
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Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: beeboss
First practise the scales till you know them inside out, all the modes of the scale, all the triads that you can get out of the scale, all the many different scale patterns you can use, as many intervals and melodies as possible, in as many different dynamics articulations and rhythms as you can (and sing along while you are doing it to improve your ear).You can think of this as building up a stock of ideas to play when it is time to improvise.

Then, when it is time to improvise, just forget all that stuff let your mind free and just have fun with whatever happens. Don't try to force out the things your were practicing but don't worry if some of them come out anyway.
In my opinion we all need both if these approaches, a methodical skill gaining approach and then a letting go creating in the moment approach. They work together to create good improvisation.

The more interesting the things you experiment with ultimately the more interesting your playing will be. If you just do scales up and down it will not be so interesting as if you play many more of the thousands of different possible note combinations.

Thank you very much for the tips on developing ideas for improvisation. I will consider that when practicing scales. I have no problem letting my mind free when improvising, as I said above my approach has always been very intuitive.

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#1699223 - 06/21/11 09:22 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
heteroskedasticity Offline
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Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
And please don't forget this thread was supposed to be about technique practicing. smile

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#1699280 - 06/21/11 11:32 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
And please don't forget this thread was supposed to be about technique practicing. smile


Scales, modes, scale patterns, arpeggios, chords, licks - they can all be practised for technique as well as for improvisation. You can work on both aspects at the same time and be even more efficient.
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#1699338 - 06/21/11 12:58 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
heteroskedasticity Offline
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Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
I suppose that is so, but I fear they would become to embedded in my improvisation. Although I like your playing and improvisation, so I suppose that should not be a problem.

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#1699347 - 06/21/11 01:15 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
I suppose that is so, but I fear they would become to embedded in my improvisation.


By that logic, wouldn't everything you play (and also hear) get embedded, so you therefore can't play or listen to anything?
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#1699378 - 06/21/11 02:02 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: rocket88]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
I suppose that is so, but I fear they would become to embedded in my improvisation.


By that logic, wouldn't everything you play (and also hear) get embedded, so you therefore can't play or listen to anything?


Quite. But when you are improvising you are not forced to play ideas that you don't like. The idea is to have a large bank of ideas at your disposal so you can play the thing that you feel is right at the exact right moment.
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#1699405 - 06/21/11 03:04 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: rocket88]
heteroskedasticity Offline
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Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
I suppose that is so, but I fear they would become to embedded in my improvisation.


By that logic, wouldn't everything you play (and also hear) get embedded, so you therefore can't play or listen to anything?

Well, yes and no, I would say that at least the extent to which it gets embedded depends on the context and way in which you practice. After all, jazz instruction books very often suggest that you practice the different subjects in the context of tunes precisely to get them incorporated into actual playing. But beeboss has a point when saying I can choose what to play, although some patterns are kind of subconscious.

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#1699449 - 06/21/11 04:53 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
beeboss Offline
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Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
But beeboss has a point when saying I can choose what to play, although some patterns are kind of subconscious.


You want interesting combinations of notes to come out effortlessly just by imagining the sound of them in your mind, and a large part of that happens at a subconscious level.

You have to have practiced in the right way to enable this to happen, and a large part of the practice is to help the material sink in at a subconscious level. If you haven't properly absorbed it it isn't going to come out in your solos. On a technical level we need to drill the correct movements so they become second nature and effortless.

If you find yourself repeatedly playing patterns that you do not like the chances are large that this is because you do not have a repertoire of things to play that you do like and that you can play easily at that point.
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#1699590 - 06/21/11 09:09 PM Re: Developing technique [Re: beeboss]
etcetra Offline
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Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: beeboss
Originally Posted By: heteroskedasticity
But beeboss has a point when saying I can choose what to play, although some patterns are kind of subconscious.


You want interesting combinations of notes to come out effortlessly just by imagining the sound of them in your mind, and a large part of that happens at a subconscious level.

You have to have practiced in the right way to enable this to happen, and a large part of the practice is to help the material sink in at a subconscious level. If you haven't properly absorbed it it isn't going to come out in your solos. On a technical level we need to drill the correct movements so they become second nature and effortless.

If you find yourself repeatedly playing patterns that you do not like the chances are large that this is because you do not have a repertoire of things to play that you do like and that you can play easily at that point.


+1 what beeboss said

here's another video. Of course there are other ways to work on improvising other than scales and arpeggios, but no teacher is going to tell you not to work on your scales and arpeggios

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o7EIEX8OM0

I think the most important thing about learning music is to be honest about yourself. You seem to have this resistance about learning the fundamental aspects of playing the instrument, and somehow playing scales/arpeggios will "get embedded" or somehow interfere with your musicality and creativity. The question I ask, is how well have you mastered your scales and arpeggios? How well do you know your diminished whole tune scale, lydian, lydian dominant, pentatonic scale, bebop.. etc?? are you able to let them come out of your playing like the words you speak, that is, naturally without effort? If speaking these basic ideas are problem for you, it's no wonder you can't communicate anything more meaningful beyond that. these things should help you improvise melodically better.

As the Hal Galper demonstrates in the video above, if you play scales emphasizing chord tones on the strong beat, you should be playing melodically.

maybe it will be helpful for you to post a recording of yourself so that people here can help you on what you really need to work on. So far, we have only your description of what you think your problem is, but the problem you described (not playing melodically) is kind of subjective, and is based solely on your observation at this point. Listening to a recording may help us find the true culprit of your problem. It could be your lack of proficiency in these basic elements, or it could be an entirely different problem altogether.


Edited by etcetra (06/21/11 09:12 PM)

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#1699730 - 06/22/11 06:29 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
heteroskedasticity Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/11
Posts: 34
Hi again. Thank you very much for all the suggestions.

I'm sorry if I gave the wrong idea about my practice. I'm not opposed to practice scales, I just don't want to base all my practice of improvisation on it. I am and will be studying scales. The question was more whether or not it would be good to practice them in the context of a tune. Maybe I was wrong and I could practice both on a technical and improvisational level by practicing them in this way.

I've been reading my previous posts and I don't think I mentioned having a melodic playing problem, but maybe I do and it's implicit, haha. This was most about technique. Anyway, I took your suggestion and upload a small improvisation over 'You Must Believe In Spring,' it's a Michel Legrand's tune but I learned it from the late Bill Evans' album with that same title. It was first take and not very prepared, please excuse some mistakes and the poor recording quality. Criticism would be very appreciated. Here is the link:
http://www.box.net/shared/mf60kdcleprb7qy289xa

About technique, I've started with Bach's first invention and it seems very interesting. I will also print some Hannon exercises to see how that's like. I've also got some Oscar Peterson hannon-type exercises I should take a look at, and I will be practicing scales and arpeggios. About the latter, what's the standard way to practice them? Should I include extensions too?

Thanks again. smile


Edited by heteroskedasticity (06/22/11 08:16 AM)

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#1699756 - 06/22/11 07:36 AM Re: Developing technique [Re: heteroskedasticity]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
There are lot of things to practice outside of scales, like taking licks/ideas and working them in all keys, melodic playing emphasizing chord tones, specific extension, transcribing..etc all these things are helpful in conjunction with working on scales and arpeggios.

Also, playing scales and arpeggios doesn't necessary have to be by the book or mechanical all the time. You can do like D triads over C7 and other poly chords, or start the beginning of each V chord on the 3rd and descend using the bebop scale, those things will sound hip. Or you can experiment with different rhythmic element while doing scales, like anticipating the next harmony by starting the scale on the 4th beat of the previous scale, or doing different accents/articulation, like accenting every 3 quarter notes, or every 2 triplets..and so on

As beeboss kind of mentioned it's your responsibility to find interesting way to work on them. Many jazz musicians created their own exercises to work on. I've come up with a lot of exercise for myself, dealing with different problems. they are usually based on something I transcribed, or some rhythmic/harmonic ideas that I want to develop. But I still do go back to scales/arpeggios, when I find that the lack of proficiency of them in some keys are hindering my progress.

btw when I clicked on the link i got a message saying it's broken frown


Edited by etcetra (06/22/11 07:41 AM)

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