30 Day Jazz Challenge
Jazz in Tokyo, Jazz in Taipei
In the spirit of working in public, actually doing the things I say I’ll do, and the love of music, I am embarking on a challenge for the next ~thirty days. I want to see how much better I can get by immersing myself into Jazz piano practice. The active doc where I take notes each day can be found here, but I will also send an update at the end of each week. Expect the next update on Sunday.
I want to see generally how much 30 days of concerted effort on a specific goal within Jazz piano can improve my ability.
While it may inspire others, the main motivation here is to invite some public pressure as extra motivation.
Be able to solo for 4 minutes on Autumn Leaves (or Gm ballad) and Triste in a way that is: rhythmically tight, expressive, engaging
Be able to do very rudimentary comping on simple jazz ballads I haven’t seen before
Spend 4 hours each day, 6 days of the week on deliberate practice. Roughly half will be split between comping and improvising.
At the very beginning, and at least once a week afterwards, I’ll make a video documenting progress.
At the end of each session, I’ll make a daily reflection that includes what I want to focus on the next day.
playing eighth note scales over backing track until rhythm is tight. Start slow then get faster
Beat box on the 2 and 4 for everything
while listening to backing track, sing the melody that appears in head before playing
Compose your own melody over the backing track
Learn bars from your favorite renditions
practice with a soloist and record you two
Different 3rd and 7th rhythms
Learn all the 2-5-1s
Be able to play the basic voicing of chords (major/minor, maj7/7), within 3 seconds of being shown the chord
Be able to do this for
Ballad (e.g. My Funny Valentine)
Swing (Autumn Leaves)
Bossa (e.g. Triste - maybe just Triste because Bossa chords are hard)
In both cases:
- Record myself each day. Rewatch the clips next day.
- Reflect at end of day on practice
Hour 1: I spent the first hour making the learning plan for this month. Format is inspired by Scott Young’s 30 day portrait drawing challenge and Max Deutsch’s Blues Solo challenge article
Hour 2-3: After recording myself soloing over iReal Autumn Leaves backing track (120 bpm x 3), I then took a closer look at the Bill Evans Autumn Leaves intro and finally figured out why my version of Evans’ improvised melody over the last chord wasn’t working. Noodled around trying to copy a gypsy jazz rendition of Autumn Leaves then discarded it.
Hour 4: Practicing comping with the iReal backing track. Noticing that I can’t sing the melody and do the full comp at the same time (plus the melody is very hard to sing in general)
Felt like my solo didn’t sound bad, but there was no sense of development, and I didn’t keep track of the line in my head. At one point it faded for a bar or two as I lost inspiration. Also rhythm off in some sections clearly
Get Bill Evans intro in his style
Find my favorite snippet of Autumn Leaves (probably Ryo Fukui, Oscar Peterson)
Sing melody over the solo
Find a way to practice quick chord formations
Make flashcards for all the chords and their variations
13 keys x (major, minor, m7, minor/maj7)
Techniques I like:
As a baseline, I recorded my very first attempt at a solo here.
The rhythm was patchy and there was a spot in the middle where I ran out of gas. There was maybe one run (at 1:01) that I think has potential. Overall pretty uninspired. Much room for improvement!
Unrelated, but Japan is beautiful this time of year