Energy Planning

My energy was high but my passion was low today. I don’t know why. Sometimes this just happens. I was in the practice room and couldn’t stand to be there.


I played my long tones but my lips were exhausted from playing so much yesterday. 4 Hours of rehearsal, which is pretty much 4 hours of intensive playing for jazz saxophone (unlike perhaps some orchestral instruments in a classical setting). I had a lot of solos. Plus practice.


None of that matters really. I should be practicing. But feelings are informative. As I mentioned last week, school is not inspiring me that much. I have a creeping sense that I am wasting time and money at school. Not that every part is bad just an overall calculation.


When I have a bad feeling, I tend to avoid whatever is causing it without too much rumination. That has proven a great strategy so far in life. The human gut is very smart.


The brain is 1000x more productive about 2-5 hours after waking (so if you wake up at 7AM, like me, that’s 9AM-noon). Unfortunately the entirety of that window was spent in class/rehearsal for me, not practicing. Then there is a dip for about 3 hours before another good period. This comes from great research done by Dan Ariely.


It was 2pm and I decided to go home. Workout. Eat. Quick nap. Then practice at the second, somewhat lower peak in brain productivity. Still better than nothing.  I didn’t have to work at my job today.


I decided to start with ii-V licks in the key of A (so Bm-E7) because of how frequently they occur in How High the Moon.


At first I used mostly 8th notes. It may seem obvious but 8th notes are the bread and butter of bebop and a lot of jazz improvisation. A lot can be said and learned with 8th notes in terms of harmony, melody, groove, and rhythm.


But one of my themes is “Expanding Rhythmic Possibilites”. So I also made sure to have some licks that included triplets and 16th notes. Use of silence. And also accent patterns to superimpose other rhythms.


I felt better and decided to go to a jam session at the Jazz Institute of Chicago. Jams are more educational than a month of school in many ways. There is no amount of awesome licks you can play that will get a reaction from the audience. Only playing from the heart, playing your guts out, whatever you want to call it. It can be simple or complicated but what matters is where it comes from.


After playing “Lady Bird” and “Footprints”, I went home. Very inspired to practice more tomorrow.

Happy practicing!

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