For those of us learning and working from since March, endurance practice has taken on a whole new meaning! There is a whole different sense of endurance when it comes to practicing by yourself at home. There are many distractions, it's harder in someways to motivate yourself, and the unpredictability of performing with another human does not challenge your ear and muscles in the same way. Because of this, we may need to rethink our at home practice goals and routines if our main, or only, performance opportunities are at home right now. If this is resonating with you, these tips from Denis Wick Artists Estela Aragon and Jason Klobnak are just for you!
TRACK YOUR PRACTICE, PROGRESS, AND PERFORMANCE / Estela Aragon
1) I keep a simple practice log of my own making for accountability. It also allows me to see the progress, like increasing tempo marking, on the techniques that challenge me. It’s especially important for me to see progress, not just hear progress.
2) I have repertoire that I’m working on for online videos or techniques I need to showcase for a tutorial, so I add those to the log and focus on practicing the performance. Full run-throughs as if it was for a recital.
3) I record myself a lot. This allows me to catch small things I otherwise wouldn’t notice as I fly through certain passages. Also, I can adjust mic levels and perfect them for recording day.
4) For my own sanity, I play duets and bigger size ensemble music on my own. THIS is a real challenge. Timing, intonation and style have to be synced across all parts for the microphone to capture the musicality.
4) I take breaks throughout the day. I usually play in the morning, then early afternoon, later afternoon and in the evening around 9. Resting is not something I think about. I always walk away before I feet fatigued.
5) Finally, I sandwich my practice with a layer of stuff I know, stuff that needs improvement and another layer of techniques I know. This helps me stay positive. I don’t want to end the day on a bad note...pun intended.
FIND SPECIFIC AREAS OF YOUR PLAYING TO FOCUS ON / Jason Klobnak
I’ve been using this time to work on cleaning up my fast phrases. I wrote a review on my website on an app that I use regularly called DrumGenius. I use it on some of the SLOWEST settings possibly to make sure I’m not rushing through certain parts and it’s been kicking my butt in a good way! James Moody used to say, “A wise man practices slowly; a wiser man practices even slower."
If you have followed this blog and have purchased Breaking the Monotony I wanted to share a Drumgenius App Review I recently downloaded. It is called Drumgenius v1.4 by the guys at Projazz Lab. For the record, I was NOT asked to do a review of this app. However, I did want to let you know about the app and how it can be used to enhance your jazz improvisational studies (whether you are a drummer or not). I strongly believe this app can be a powerful resource for my students and use it in both the Modern Jazz Trumpet Routine and my Targeting Master Class.
Drumgenius v1.4 is made for the iPhone and Android based operating systems so it wont matter what type of smart phone you prefer. The app contains (at the time of this writing) around 300 different styles of drum loops that sound great and have a number of applications that you could use. Loop styles range from Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Funk, all types of jazz (straight and swung) and odd meters. For drummers, you can play along with each loop to not only get the feel, but work on timing and groove. For other musicians, it gives you the opportunity to work with a drummer anywhere you have your phone.
You can work on timing, rhythmic creativity and phrasing. For those that have Breaking the Monotony, this app can be especially helpful because a number of the loops come with an option to include the clave pattern over the loop! You can use a number of different loops as a practice aid with just about every chapter in Breaking the Monotony (or Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose)! Another great benefit (especially for someone like me who is not a drummer) is you get proper names and a short history of the drum loop. As a composer I now have a resource to say, “Oh yeah…that is the drum groove I am wanting for this section on my chart. I always wanted to know what that was called!”
To get a feel of what it looks and sounds like, below is their video found on their website as well as Youtube (the video is below).
The app itself is free to download. Along with the app you get 3 free loop downloads that come with the app. You can purchase 3 levels of loop downloads in their app store. The first is 10 loops, 50 loops or infinite (which is all 300 loops or any new updates they have in the future). I did not catch the prices for the first 2 levels because I went straight for the infinite option. It was $9.99. For the iPhone, the app also works in the background so you can continue to use your phone for other features while still listening to the loop.
Since I have made this app purchase I have been using it in my daily jazz practice and have been thrilled with the benefits. There is something to playing duets with a drummer that help an improviser’s time, phrasing and rhythmic creativity. Now I can work on those whenever I have my horn and phone. Overall I give this app 5 stars!