Practice guidance

Hello, some advice please…

Just wondering if we should be practicing triads/arpeggios/251s etc without looking at the keyboard… is there a benefit to this?
I do my scales happily by touch alone but a lot harder on triads and arpeggios and haven’t tried at all on 251s.
Would it help when I’m learning new pieces on the jazz standards or advanced sessions on some of the beginner standards?

Thank you

Hi Donna :wave:

Great question!

Yes running through theory drills without looking can be a good exercise and it will help you in different areas of your playing.

For example, when playing a stride left hand such as in the course on Georgia On My Mind, and Cocktail Piano Improvisation, if we can play some of the left hand elements without looking, it frees up our attention to focus on our right hand decoration and improvisation.

My recommendation would be to try the whole step 251 drills without looking:

This would be a nice place to start because our hand doesn’t lift of the keyboard when playing through 6 keys (the 1 chord turns minor and starts a 251 a whole step down) and so it’s easy to ‘feel your way around’ and find the shapes.

You could also try this with rootless voicings in the left hand, but following the whole step pattern. This is a nice idea for a topic to cover in a live seminar in fact. I have added it to my notes.

I hope that helps Donna - let me know if you have any further questions.

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Thank you Hayden - that’s a helpful tip on the 251 drills

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Hi Hayden…hope life treats you well.
So as an approach, i was interested in your thoughts. Instead of trying to do practice drills across all keys in one go, which could be overwhelming, select a few Standards that are in the same key. So Georgia is in F major. Maybe also pick Bag’s Groove too (also F) and one more. The idea is that the progressions should be transferable across all tunes ? it’s seems that would be a way to master that key with a more narrow approach. does it make sense ? maybe I am wrong about it. but i thought to pick tunes with the same 2-5-1 in them ?

Hi @lester :wave:

Good question!

I can appreciate that learning everything in 12 keys can be overwhelming at times. As a side note, the more that we do this, the easier and easier it gets.

The method that you outline is would certainly give you quicker results for learning a smaller repertoire. It very much depends on your goals and what you want to achieve with jazz music. If we neglect practicing certain keys, the ‘weakness’ in these keys will be amplified by not practicing them regularly.

It’s normal to be more fluent in some keys over others - for myself at least - and lots of the repertoire I play frequently is in the keys of Eb and F and so I am naturally stronger in these keys in terms of voicings, melodies, reharmonisation etc… but that doesn’t mean that I stop practicing and transposing things to the other keys.

If you have a handful of tunes in the key of F that you like to play regularly then yes give that key some extra attention in terms of practice. That makes sense.

Personally, when I transpose something (a lick, line, reharm, fill over common progression etc…) that I like into a few different keys, and then apply it to a few different jazz standards, I then find that it really sticks in my brain and in my fingers. This is because I have taken the time to dissect and transpose it, which definitely works wonders to help internalise something and make it part of your playing style so that you will never forget it.

I hope that helps Lester - any follow up questions just let me know!

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thanks very much Hayden. I will aim to circle round the keys… pick three standards per key as I go.

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