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How to Maintenance Practice to Keep Up Your Jazz Skills

Welcome to episode 127 of the LJS Podcast where today I spend some time maintenance practicing. Maintenance practicing is a great way to keep up your skills even when you have very little time to spend practicing. I play through my quick routine and let you know how I keep my fingers fresh. Listen in!

Listen to episode 127

Here’s the truth, even as a professional musician, I don’t always have a lot of time to practice.

Even the small percentage of professional musicians who make most of their living performing have limited time to practice. Musicians like me do a lot of education and have other lives, and sometimes it can be tough.

But, of course, even if you’re a hobbyist or student, I know you can relate. You have a job, a family, and other priorities. Sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and learn a bunch of musical information.

No need to worry!

Maintenance practicing is the kind of practicing you do when you just need to keep your chops fresh. I do this all of the time. Usually, they don’t last much longer than 30 minutes, but they keep me connected with my instrument and my chops ready to go.

Here’s a bit of what I go over in today’s episode:

  • How to keep up your jazz skills with little practice.

  • The 3 categories I draw from to build my practice session.

  • A cool technical exercise I practice.

  • A solo rendition of a popular jazz standard.

  • A cool 2-5-1 lick I practice in all 12 keys.

Maintenance practicing is awesome, and I hope you’ll use my framework to build your own. They are quick, but they are rewarding.

Doing them makes you feel accomplished and it also keeps your chops ready to go and your brain connected to your instrument.

What kinds of things do you do when you have limited time to practice? Leave a comment below.

Important Links

LJS 124: The Only “Big 3” Things You Need to Be Practicing As a Jazz Musician

LJS 117: How to Practice Licks in all 12 Keys

30 Steps to Better Jazz Playing

LJS Inner Circle Membership

Free Guide to learn standards by ear: Learn Jazz Standards the Smart Way

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. First episode I'm listening to and I already learned a lot! Thak you! Also, such beautiful licks,I have still much to learn :p

  2. Brent, really enjoyed this episode. This one and episode 117 where we hear you play a lick through all 12 keys are wonderful. Really like hearing the stuff you talk about actually being used. And it's great to hear an accomplished pro making mistakes and having to repeat exercises in their practice. Good reminder that we'll never stop working to improve no matter how long we've been playing. I welcome many more episodes like these!


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