Mike's practice Log

April 1 - April 3

I’ve been alternating between the foundations practice planner and extended chords & voicings practice planner on a daily basis.
I’m finding major scales challenging when playing with both hands simultaneously. Perhaps I should concentrate on a single key for an extended period before switching.
In the extended voicings exercises, I tend to skip the Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, and So What voicings, primarily working on basic extensions.
Today, I composed a short “etude” exclusively using Herbie, Kenny, and SW voicings to learn how to use them.

Tune Up


Hi @MikeS ,

sounds great!

Considering major scales, yes, staying with one or two keys for a longer time is very helpful; I would recommend to take two keys that have different fingering, for exmample C major and F major, play them very slow at first, until the fingering for both hands becomes effortless, then increase tempo little by little. Then, when you really feel like you can play them (hands together) without having to think about the fingerings, move to next two.

Good thing about major scales is, once you learn C major really well, the same fingering applies to several other scales, G, D, A, E, B, as well as several minor keys as well!

Keep up the good work!


Hi @Tuomo ,

Thanks for the tips. I think I really need to try to focus on only two scales at a time. It makes sense to do exactly what you said, and choose scales with different fingerings.
Once I have mastered the basic versions of the scales, do you think it is beneficial to practice scales with different interval patterns? Or what kind of exercises do you recommend?

Hi @MikeS ,

Are you familiar with Hanon?

After learning basic scales, there are many ways you can go forward; I recommend to move to Hanon book, and start going through first 20 exercises, then do them in different keys.

Remember when practicing scales:

Goal for learning scales is to be familiar and fluent with all keys, as well as have some technique development.

Best way to learn both of those things is jazz language; chord tones and melodic patterns that not only teach you about the keys and technique, can also be directly applied to you improvisation.

Here are some pages/videos on the subject of chord tones and jazz language:


Hi @Tuomo

Yes, I have heard of Hanon. I found a website with the 20 Hanon exercises you mentioned. I’ll have to try them out once I’ve learned the scales in all the keys. Thanks for the links to the tutorial and seminars on jazz language and chord tones. I’ll definitely watch them at some point.

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I have been focusing on practicing the C and F major scales the past few days. Both hands work fine separately, but the muscle memory is not yet there when playing with both hands together. At the same time, I have been practicing arpeggios in the keys of C and F.
In terms of chords, I have done the following exercises:

  • major 251’s with type A, type B and closed voicings in the right hand (ii-9 - V13 - Imaj9)
  • major 251’s starting with so what and kenny barron voicings

For the reharmonization challenge, I have started working on a version of the song “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. It has a beautiful melody that seems to offer many possibilities for reharmonization.

I have been trying to listen to as much jazz music as possible. It is great that because I haven’t listened to much jazz music before, a whole treasure trove has opened up to me that I was not aware of. There is jazz music outside of Take Five song. My most inspiring discovery lately has been Keith Jarrett’s Standards Vol. 1 album. Incredible piano playing, but what was really amazing was the trio’s playing together. I read that they didn’t practice the songs at all before going into the studio. The result of two and a half days in the studio was three albums of music.

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I completed the April reharmonization challenge. My piano playing wasn’t great, but anyway the goal was to learn reharmonization. Playing with accompaniment was challenging. In some places, I noticed that I always play the chords on the downbeats. This quickly gives the song a tango-like feel, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

I have continued to practice the C and F major scales. They are starting to go better, both hands together as well. I was thinking of moving on to the G and Bb scales next. I will keep the C and F scales for maintenance practice. I made myself a note of the 20 Hanon exercises that I have been using to add variety to the scales. I have continued to do the same harmony exercises (ii-9 - V13 - Imaj9) with different voicings.

Hanon - Full Score.pdf (18.2 KB)