‎Make Scale Practice More Fun with the Afro Latin Drum Machine

That boring click-click-click is one way to keep the beat, but there’s a better way. Check out the AfroLatin Drum Machine. The free version loops for 16 bars or so and has limited styles, but is still quite good, and super useful as an interesting metronome for practice. The full version costs more but is…

Calling All Wind Musicians: Do This NOW (Please)

Without intonation, music doesn’t resonate, and if things are really out of tune, it can be a painful experience. Jazz trumpeter Ingrid Jensen gives an excellent example of how to play in tune. Here’s Ingrid in a video from JALC’s Jazz Academy to tell you more about playing with drones:

Adopt a Drum: Practicing Rhythm

Rhythm is one of the most fundamental musical elements, in my opinion, one of the most important and most powerful. Unless we’re a drummer, our focus on rhythm often is overshadowed by other demands of the instrument or voice: tone production, fingering, intonation, and more. Here are three kinds of rhythmic activity you can add to your practice.

Book Extras

  Nearly every chapter in the book has links to more information: images, videos, books, gadgets, research articles, and more. Below is the full list of these extras. If you’re interested in the research references used in the book, here they are. Dead links will be replaced as soon as I learn about them. If you spot…

Kenny Werner’s Practice Snapshots

Pianist Kenny Werner’s book Effortless Mastery has helped a lot of people who struggle with the fear of performance. He’s started a new blog, and part of the blog is a series of videos on how he practices. I’m excited to hear and watch these videos, and encourage you to check them out the first three below.

Performance as Practice

Headed north up to do a gig with my quintet Swang and it got me thinking about how performance figures into practice. We’re doing some recordings tomorrow and I know that playing a gig the night before will help our playing a lot. According to a lot of the folks I’ve interviewed, performance is considered a…

7 Gifts to Make a Musician Rejoice

Here are some gift ideas for the musician or music-lovers in your life. I either have these, or have looked into these items and have chosen what I believe to be the highest quality gear at the most reasonable prices. Hope these help you out! Happy holidays!

Quality v. Quantity

Some research shows that the amount of time doesn’t really matter, although it does matter a little since if you spend zero hours doing something, you’re not going to get better at all. But it turns out that the number of hours practiced doesn’t really matter, it’s all about the quality of your practice. What you do is important, but not how much you do. Duh, right?

This seems like a no-brainer issue, but researchers are notoriously skeptical about common-sense issues. We want to know for sure whether things are true. That’s one of the reasons behind a study by Duke, Simmons, & Cash (2009), titled It’s not how much; it’s how: Characteristics of practice behavior and retention of performance skills. These researchers had 17 graduate and advanced undergraduate piano players practice a 3-measure excerpt of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra (here’s a clip of Shostakovich himself playing part of it). Here’s the excerpt:

Book Review: The Musician’s Way, by Gerald Klickstein

I’ve read (and re-read in many cases) most books out there on practice and this is one of the best, hands down. Klickstein is a classical guitarist who performs throughout the U.S. and internationally and is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

My favorite 2 aspects of the book are…

Jazz Resources

Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny. ~Frank Zappa

I don’t care too much about music. What I like is sounds. ~Dizzy Gillespie
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This coming weekend I’m hosting at the computer lab at the Evanston Township High School Jazz Festival, a jazz fest for high school jazzers in and around the Chicago area. I’m putting together some resources that the budding jazz musician will find helpful, including listening, blogs, freeware, software, podcasts, and anything else that might be useful. Some of the software I’ve mentioned in one or two earlier posts (Sibelius, Aviary, NoteFlight, Audacity, Band in a Box, etc). I’ll put links to that software here, but won’t go into much detail. If you’re not into playing jazz, you should certainly check out some of the listening opportunities. Great stuff there…. Enjoy!