How do you practice jazz? Are you a noodler? I am.
When I work on jazz improvisation, I mostly noodle, running through several tunes aimlessly with a play-along track: “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Joy Spring,” “I’ll Close My Eyes,” etc. It’s fun, but there’s no focus, and I tend not to get much better this way.
Noodling is not a very efficient use of practice time, and it needs to go.
Chops and Changes
When I lived in Albuquerque, I had the forehead-smacking good luck to take a few lessons with Bobby Shew. The lessons were gold, and fortunately I recorded them. Thanks, past Jonathan!
In one lesson, Bobby gave me a copy of his article “Chops and Changes,” which describes the systematic process he recommends for learning new tunes. I’m going to use this approach to focus my jazz practice and learn a jazz standard I’ve never really learned: “All the Things You Are.”
“All the Things You Are” in 30 Days
Here’s my “before” video, recorded last weekend. I’d played through this tune a few times in the days before recording this, but I hadn’t practiced the tune in several years. In a month, I’ll post a follow-up video and share what I’ve learned!