One of the most important things a budding jazz musician can do is stay consistent to a regular practicing regiment.  It doesn’t always matter how long you practice for. What matters is that you have clear set goals in mind and work consistently to accomplish them.  After all, studies have been done indicating that those who not only make goals but write them down generate the most success out of their lives.  Having goals and being constantly reminded of them will cause you to plan out solutions to attain them.  I talk more extensively about these concepts in my free e-book “A Jazz Guide To Practicing”. To delve deeper into these topics, I highly suggest you check it out!

So what does this look like for us jazz musicians?  We all want to be better musicians and attain a high level of playing, but how do we get there?  How do we start to narrow the gap between us and our musical goals?

I thought it would be useful for many of you to set up a 7 day intensive of practice routines to help you improve your playing and also to give an example of what goal-oriented practicing looks like.  Now, I’m sure some of you are already discouraged because you just simply don’t have the time to practice everyday for a week. This is the great part: it’s 7 days of practicing not a week of practicing, which means you can take it at your own pace! Sure, treating the 7 days like a week of practicing everyday would be ideal, but for most of us this isn’t possible. If you can’t fit in practice one day, no worries! Tomorrow is waiting. The goal is that you stay consistent and that you are working towards something that will help you become a better jazz player.

Goals:

Before we dive into these 7 days we need to establish our goals. This is the most important part! Everybody has different musical desires and are at different levels, so your goals may vary. The goals that I am setting up for you are things that I believe are incredibly important to becoming a better jazz musician. I encourage you to adopt these goals at least for now. You can always do another 7 days with different goals in mind.

  1. Learn a jazz standard in 7 days. On this website we have often talked about why it is important for jazz musicians to learn jazz standards. Pick a tune that you don’t know to learn for these 7 days. If you are not sure which ones to learn, check out this list of important standards you need to know. (Note: You will need to have spent time listening to the standard prior to the 7 days so that you are already familiar with it.)
  2. Learn 12 bars of a jazz blues solo in 7 days. Learning how to play solo’s from jazz greats is incredibly important in helping you learn the language and expand your vocabulary. I chose the blues in this case because 12 bars is a reasonable amount to learn in 7 days and the blues form covers some of the most important harmonic structures in jazz. For beginners at learning solo’s by ear, I always suggest Mile’s Davis’ solo on Freddie Freeloader. It’s fairly simple, melodic, and not too difficult to lift.  If you are more experienced at this, pick your own 12 bars to learn and if you need help finding jazz blues tunes, click here(Note: You will need to have spent time listening to the 12 bars prior to the 7 days so that you are already familiar with it.)

So without further to do, here are your 7 Days To Better Jazz Playing:

7 Days To Better Jazz Playing

Go ahead! Try it and see what happens! Dedicate yourself to these 7 days of practicing and see how structured, goal-oriented practicing can help take your playing to the next level. Lastly, a great way to help you stay focused is to do this with a friend! Share this 7 days of practice routines with a friend, do it together, and keep each other in check.

-Brent Vaartstra

To learn more about this author, visit www.brentvaartstra.com.

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30 Days to Better Jazz Playing
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Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publications “500 Jazz Licks” and “Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar.” To learn more, visit www.brentvaartstra.com.

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