Jazz Guitar – Practicing

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,399
    Expert guitarist Dan Leonard discusses the importance practice by repetition when learning to play jazz guitar.

    Dan Leonard

    Guitarist Dan Leonard has been a full time performer and teacher since 1987. He has taught hundreds of students jazz, blues and rock improvisation; from intermediates to working professionals. Over the years he has distilled his approach into the basis for his forthcoming instructional book “Organizing the fretboard for improvisation”. Dan began his career playing in regional rock bands. After studying classical guitar and composition in college he turned his focus to jazz, which is where it has stayed to this day. He is currently guitarist with Blind Pig recording artist Deanna Bogart as well as leader of The Dan Leonard Trio. His first solo recording “Time Alone” was released in 2000 with the follow-up, “The Middle Path” due out in the fall. His many performances include The Vaison Jazz Festival in France, The Monterey Blues Festival and The Clearwater Jazz Festival.

    Dan Leonard: Hi! I'm Dan Leonard and now Id like to talk a little bit about practicing. Weve covered a lot of chords and scales and arpeggios, and in order to assimilate these, a lot of repetition is necessary.

    So, what I recommend is to manage your time when you are practicing is to break your practice sessions into short blocks of time, maybe 10-20 minutes, and you can even use a timer, if you have trouble keeping track of time, and work on one specific thing at a time, whether its a specific scale or switching from one chord to another in each segment and when you are practicing something say an Arpeggio and youre having a trouble with the fingering, usually you can isolate one part of the fingering that's giving you trouble, and I recommend zoning right in on that and isolating those few notes.

    For instance, if youre practicing the G Major seven arpeggio, and youre having trouble, for instance a lot of people have trouble going from their fourth through their third finger in coordinating that move. Instead of practicing the entire arpeggio over-and-over again to try and iron out that one part, I recommend isolating that one part of the arpeggio and making exercise just out of the move from your third to your fourth finger.

    That's just an example of how to isolate problem spots, but it can also be in relation to switching chords. You can just practice the move, switching from one chord to the next instead of practicing an entire progression of chords and always making mistake in the same place.

    Id also like to mention using a metronome when you practice whether its practicing scales or practicing a tune, using a metronome can help you develop good time and it can also be an incremental way to increase your speed in terms of technique and also in terms of developing a field for jazz, a rhythmic field for jazz. Setting a metronome so that the beats of the metronome, on beats two and four of a measure creates kind of a swing feel. I'll demonstrate that now, I have a metronome here.

    So, what I mean by that is, if you set the metronome, see right now its set at 100, and if I think of that is beats two and four of a measure so what I would be counting it as is, two-three-four, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, onetwo-threefour and you can practice your scales that way or a tune.

    I'm actually going to slow the tempo up a little bit because that's a little bit quick. So, now I'm going to go down to 80 on the metronome.

    One-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, so heres a G Major scale played in eighth notes.

    It tends to make things swing a little bit.

    I'll demonstrate something else, this is a little bit of a bebop tune and I'll play with the metronome beating on two and fourOne-two-threefour and so on.

    It creates a different feeling in having the metronome on every beat. So, I recommend doing a certain amount of your practice everyday using the metronome on beats two and four.