Practice Plan: Improving Time, Improvisation, & Comping

1.5 Hour Intermediate/Advanced Practice Plan - 6 x 15 min slots

Slot 1 is Hanon Exercises: 1 through 20

Tempo 60bpm to 120bpm (go up in increments of 1 bmp to 5 bmp)

  • Control hand position
  • Same volume and sound from each note
  • Follow fingering perfectly
  • Go straight into the next exercise without taking our hands off the keys
  • Start with 2 metronome clicks per measure, then move to 1 click per measure
  • Notice whether we are falling ahead or behind the metronome beat - be honest with ourseves!!

Slot 2 - Transcribing and Transposing Lines

Create a book of lines - this will become our ‘musical vocabulary’

  • Don’t worry about swing feel to start with
  • Take line through all 12 keys over left hand voicings
  • Once we can play the line in all 12 keys, then add the metronome
  • Start with major 251 lines, then play the same line over the relative minor 251

Slot 3 - Learning New Tunes

Take a tune through different keys, just the harmony

  • Learning new tunes
  • Find recordings and play along with the best drummers/bass player
  • Play along with iRealPro

Slot 4 - Voicings Comping

Listen to the masters of comping:

Wynton Kelly - Sonny Clark - Mulgrew Miller - Bobby Timmons - Bill Evans

  • Just listen & play along
  • At least Transcribe the chord melody (top note of voicing)
  • Maybe transcribe the whole chord if we want a challenge
  • Also hear the rhythms, count along, identify where the chord are falling in the bar
  • Play along with rhythm section

Slot 5 - Transcribing Solos

Continue with transcribing but now for solos

  • Pay attention to how the solo starts - how they transition from head, to solo
  • Emulate the left hand voicings (play rhythm exactly the same)
  • Transcribe an entire song - the head, the solos, the comping, intros/outros
  • Make note of melodies and add them to our book (step 2)

Slot 6 - Play & Improvise Standards

Play with iRealPro over standards

  • Put everything together from above steps
  • Play head, take a solo, lay off and comp, more solo, back to head
  • Put iRealPro on 20+ repeats and cycle around and around
  • Whatever tune we ar working on is the focus of this 15 mins
  • 12 bar blues could be a nice place to start here

@Pierre - I could film myself doing this routine… would that be helpful?

That could be a nice format for the Practice Inspiration section of the forum. We share a plan, and film ourselves doing it. I would make tonnes of mistakes in that 1.5 hour, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of… it’s practice time after all!

The only snag is that it would be an hour and a half long, and so the end video would have to be super simple from an editing standpoint, or my computer might explode :grin:

Slot 1 is the only one I don’t do regularly. I get to drill 4 or 5 (our of Hanon drill 1-
through 20), and then my brain just wants to play around with chords and standards :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: … I need to be more dedicated and work on that.

I’ve never enjoyed doing technical exercises like that, but many fantastic musicians tell me that it’s important and a great way to develop a solid sense of time.

That exact exercise (slot 1) is actually what Tuomo recommends in his 5-Min Masterclass on “Improving your sense of time”: