Like most Mondays, I barely had time to blink today. Pretty much every meal I eat now I eat while walking somewhere. It started out as a necessity but now I do it by choice to save time. Because yes those 5-10-15 minutes are too valuable. and if I sit, I sometimes become very tired very quickly.


I also noticed the past few weeks that coffee definitely has a negative effect on my playing. Overall, it's better for me to be alert if my other option is falling asleep, but I tend to rush and have poor tone (due to the way it dehydrates me and lingers on my tongue).


Anyway, the short version:


45 Minutes pentatonics

15 minutes Donna Lee (harmony)

20 Minutes ii-V's

10 Minutes Donna lee (improvisation)


I began with some very interesting and challenging extensions to pentatonics today. Melodically, I played two different "extra note pentatonics" in major. My teacher, Jim Gailloreto showed me these extra notes on Friday. Basically, you can insert a note between the 2nd and 3rd scale degrees and/or the 5th and 6th scale degrees of a major pentatonic (so in C major that's an Eb between D and E, or an Ab between G and A).


I would play the #2 extra note going up and the b6 extra note going down.


But I also added a new element to the rhythm. I displaced my accent by an 8th note triplet every time. The pattern would be ONE two three one TWO three one two THREE etc. It sounded like this:



For minor pentatonics, I took out the extra note because there really isn't an extra note that sounds good in minor. But I kept the accent pattern. I struggled along for a while at a slow tempo, but about halfway through the minors I was suddenly able to really pick up the speed. It just clicked. You can hear the tempo I made it to below.


After a break, I came back and started a variation on my chord tone exercise for Donna Lee. Instead of playing chord tones on down beats, I would play lower neighbor tones to chord tones. For instance, on the first chord Bb (that's my key, it's a concert Ab), I would play an A-natural, then Bb and go up in the tertian series (thirds).


So a measure of Bb would be played as






Here is an example:

For some reason, the lower neighbor adds a lot to my ability to hear the changes and understand the progression. Especially when I change from beginning on the lower neighbor of the root to the lower neighbor of the third in each measure.


After getting through roots twice and thirds twice, I moved on to my ii-V's.


Again, my goal was primarily to continue improving my swing feel by playing these licks extremely slowly with the swing I want. Then bringing up the tempo gradually. This method has been working well and continued to help me improve today.


Eventually I settled on one lick and transposed it to F and Bb, starting very slowly in both new keys and learning to play it at a medium-up tempo perfectly from memory.

To  practice putting it all together, I used a backing track to improvise over Donna Lee and Lady Bird. I definitely noticed my swing was better, as was my phrasing.


The new site design will be implemented sometime this week and it looks beautiful.


Happy practicing!


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