Never hurry when you practice
Last Updated: March 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

March 3, 2011

I’m offering a jazz camp this summer, on the beautiful shores of Lake Rideau, in Ontario. A jazz retreat for adults-five nights and four full days of jazz study and jamming in an absolutely gorgeous north woods setting in Canada. We will cover a wide array of topics, things mentioned below-practicing methods, articulation and phrasing, as well as jazz theory, harmony, improvisation techniques and ensemble playing.

Classical musicians interested in the art of jazz and improvisation are welcome!

Playing fast is not playing better. Do not hurry when practicing or playing music. You should not be rushing to get something done, checking things off your interminable to-do lists, entering your practice space with a cluttered mind and misguided aspirations. If you can’t play one note, much less a scale or an arpeggio, musically, at a slow tempo, you have no business playing fast. Ah…what does “musically” mean? It means expressively and deliberately, controlling the tone, the overtone, the body, the nuance, and the duration of every pitch. With deference and open ears, as if Bach resided in every note. Listen to the space between the notes. This is a golden silence. Silence is the other side of a note. And silence, or rest, or breath taking is integral to phrasing. *Phrasing is one of the most difficult things to teach, and I will write a lot about this in upcoming blogs.

I’m not saying that fast playing is uncool or ineffective. I love rapid fire jazz licks, and passages, and admire guitarists who can execute them-Pat Martino, Al Dimeola, George Benson, Cal Collins, Larry Carlton, Mike Stern, etc., but in order to play rapidly and well, one must practice slowly, hearing every note and its quality, and increase your tempos incrementally.

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