How fast is fast enough?

I’m currently working on a couple of lessons, including Red Garland transcription #2 and the Misty improv lessons. My question has to do with how fast I’m playing. Should I shoot for playing accurately at the speed demonstrated in the video before moving on to the next lesson? If I’m playing fluently at say, half speed, is it ok to move on?

Hey @tlrouse :wave:

Great question!

Let’s start with the Misty Cocktail Improv Course:

Firstly, each lesson in the improvisation module builds upon the previous. As you progress through the module you will be revisiting and incorporating the principles and techniques from the earlier lessons.

I recommend to get a basic handle on the first 2 lessons (targeting chord tones) and then once you can play through the A section targeting the chord tones whilst keeping a steady pulse, you can then move onto the next lessons on ‘reshaping the melody’ and ‘arpeggio shapes and patterns’.

Keeping a steady pulse with the left hand stride is the main thing to focus on, and the speed will come naturally with time and practice.

I recommend to start each of you practice sessions with 5 or 10 minutes of chord tone targeting, and then move onto the next lessons. That way you are continuing to build strong foundations whilst also pushing forward and exploring the other improvisation principles in the course.

Now let’s talk about transcriptions and specifically the Red Garland Transcription Exercise #2 that you are working on.

The goal here is to emulate exactly what you are hearing. The exact speed, phrasing, accents, and other nuances. This takes time and practice, but that is the end goal.

The next step is to transpose the line and apply it to jazz standards. I covered this process in a seminar here. I think it would be good to have more focused ‘mini lessons’ on this process with better examples and application to the 25s and 251s in Misty.

I will a new module after the current cocktail piano improvisation module, and these lessons will focus specifically on taking material from the Licks & Lines Library and applying it in context of the improvisation drills that we cover in the course.

Leave that with me!

Thank you Hayden. Very helpful!

My pleasure, Lee!

We cover the same chord tone drills and exercises in my course on “Nearness Of You - Ballad Voicings & Fills” which might also be of interest to you:

This kind of drill can be applied to any jazz standard.

The way that I demonstrate the drills is for solo piano, ballad-style playing with stride left hand. The same drills can be used at faster tempos with a backing track for example.

It is challenging to complete these drills with the stride left hand as we are playing everything: the bass notes, the voicings/harmony, and our right hand melody. As mentioned start slowly, focus on keeping a steady pulse, and then gradually increase the tempo.

Would it be OK to work on two of these pieces (e.g., Misty and Nearness) at the same time?

Yes absolutely… I recommend to work on a few jazz standards at the same time and gradually build out your repertoire of tunes.

These 2 courses both follow a similar structure with a focus on left hand stride and so it should be useful to see how the same voicing styles and arranging principles can applied to different songs.

I’ve half finished a course which follows a similar structure for “Body & Soul” which is another lovely tune for solo piano. You can find that course here:

These are 3 of my favourite tunes to play: Misty, Nearness Of You, and Body & Soul.