Three tips for hearing your playing better

I played with a rehearsal band last week. Something happened during the obligatory tuning process that gave me a thought about a major aspect of playing well – jazz or otherwise. We went around the band tuning the wind instruments with the the reference note, and something occurred that I often see/hear in this situation. […]

How best to use my book, Rhythm Savvy

I received an email the other day from a buyer of my book, Rhythm Savvy. His good question asked how best to approach the book in order to get the most from it. Should he follow it in order cover to cover or use another approach? I organize my books and courses without a firmly […]

The joy of practicing different

In my free improvisation course, Pocket Jazz, I dedicate a lesson to finding ways to mix it up in your practicing. Find new and cool places that bring out the best in your playing and make it more fun. How easily you can do this depends on two things: your instrument and where you live. […]

What should I practice?

This is a question I am asked a lot and one that is on many people’s mind, possibly including yours. So let’s talk about it. The more detailed question is:

The skill of simplicity

I’ve received a couple of emails this past week making basically the same point about Pocket Jazz that I thought was worth sharing and exploring. I hope this will help you. The point made by both of them was that some of the lessons seem only for intermediate and advanced players. One of the commenters […]

The finishing fetish

Before a rehearsal tonight, I was speaking with a couple of friends/bandmates about some of my improvisation methods They’ve been following a few of my lessons and advice on developing improvisation skills and one of them proudly mentioned that he can now play a couple of simple songs in all 12 keys. He’s been doing the work […]

The benefits of practicing by ear

You’ve heard the saying about doing the same thing over and over expecting different results? It doesn’t end well.

Let’s talk about a different way to practice from what you may be doing day after day after day.

The power of articulation

A while back I wrote several posts about time, making the point that one’s sense of time and swing was more important in playing jazz than the ‘correct’ notes.

On time, practicing, and listening

A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of posts about time and rhythm. I suggested that rhythm is a fundamental yet under-appreciated element of good jazz playing and it is one of the obvious weaknesses of less experienced jazz players.

Quick and easy mastery of improvising jazz

Okay, let me come clean that the title of this post is completely misleading. But when you first saw it, admit that you had a tinge of excitement that it could be possible. Sorry about that, but I’m trying to make a point.

Finding meaning for your jazz playing

I just read Viktor Frankl’s classic, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s been on my reading list for a long time so my recent sojourn to the northern Arizona flower-covered mountains gave me the opportunity to finally read it.

Warm up your ear for improvisation

We are all pretty good at warming up our bodies to play our instruments. Brass players require a little extra as we limber up the vibrating mechanism called our lips. For that, we play long tones, lip slurs, tonguing, etc.