An Extra Hour

Like I said yesterday, I felt inspired to add extra practice time to my schedule after the great interview I did over the weekend.


I managed to fit an additional hour every day of the week after spending a long time reviewing my daily schedule. Today was the first day I implemented it.


The short version:

30 Minutes pentatonics


10 Minutes Melodic Minor

30 Minutes Donna Lee

10 Minutes Lower Neighbors


20 Minutes Improvisation

40 Minutes licks


To mix up the pentatonics, I played the “extra note” between scale degrees 5 and 6 on the ascending scale and between 2 and 3 on the descending scale; previously I had always done it reverse. I also did the major pentatonics without a metronome just to practice keeping a steady beat on my own.


I revisited melodic minors as an exercise in improving my tone and time feel in a certain context (as opposed to long tones which are virtually out of context). However I played them in diatonic thirds just to keep things fresh.


I spent about half an hour playing Donna Lee entirely from memory. I refused to look up the notes and instead self-corrected by ear. Definitely worth it as I notice that both my memory and my ear are steadily improving. In addition to playing the notes and rhythms correctly, I focused intently on my tone and swing feel.


My lower neighbor exercise is coming along quite well. Yesterday was a brutally slow struggle, but today they felt fairly easy. The results of slow, focused practice still seem magical to me. Later on when I improvised, I encountered little trouble using lower neighbor licks.


Again I returned to the Bebop Bible for some licks. After playing a bunch of them super slowly with an emphasis on rhythm, I chose one to work on and got it up to 170BPM. Throughout this process I found it trivially easy to memorize a lick. It feels great to quickly memorize things, finally.


The licks really warmed up my ear, brain, and fingers in the style of swing. I improvised over Lady Bird for a bit and then Donna Lee for a bit. Mainly I focused on sequencing 1-3-5 patterns across the changes with an emphasis on rhythm. That means I would basically play a lick that emphasized basic chord tones, perhaps with a connecting note and/or neighbor tone, and moved that lick through all the changes. I tried to play swing 8th notes, triplets, and patterns with some form of space (sometimes that would be a staccato quarter note, sometimes rests, sometimes syncopation).


Since today I had two rehearsals, that extra hour hit me hard physically. My mouth still feels tired as I write this. But I am excited at the possibilities of what I can accomplish and explore with more time to practice.


Tomorrow will bring the release of my latest interview. I hope you are enjoying the new site design, and please feel free to use the new comment feature.


Happy practicing!

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