A taste of the Ukrainian spirit

A buyer of my book Alto Trombone Savvy wrote me a very sweet email and informed me that he cannot directly receive the book but is making arrangements for its delivery. Not an uncommon email, but this particular one came from Ukraine. This Ukrainian trombone player, Petro, will be teaching himself alto trombone. He wrote, “I dream of […]

Practice this way to improve your skills quicker – Part 2

Don’t read this until you’ve looked through part 1.  In Part 1, I used a piano lesson as an example of discovering the deeper cause of some aspect of your playing you don’t like. Once you find that deeper cause, strip away other aspects of your playing so that you can work exclusively on that deeper […]

Practice this way to improve your skills quicker – Part 1

I gave a lesson this week to a piano player who wants to play jazz better. From our interaction, I was reminded of an important element of practicing that too few players consistently do. I’m not a jazz piano specialist. I’ll leave that distinction to guys like Richie Beirach, Bert Seager, Dan Haerle, and others. I […]

Resolving a musical tug of war

I received an email the other day from a jazz player trying to know how best he should be practicing.  I want to provide a public version of my answer so that if you are in a similar quandary, you might untangle it for yourself. The person writing me called it his tug of war. In […]

Uplift your playing: try something new

Thank you for all the positive comments and emails from last week’s post on building your health. As I thought about all those people wanting to make change, I was reminded of another topic that is super important to the idea of making material change: the willingness to try something new and different from what you’ve […]

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.