Today, guitar practice routine day 30, was the last day of my residency at theMarshall University Jazz Program, which was going to be a mixture of lessons, performances and workshops with the jazz areastudents at the school.
Since I would be performing that night, and rehearsing-teaching all day, I kept my practice time to a minimum, saving my chops as much as possible so that they would be in good shape for the concert that night.
To see the other entries in this series, check out my Guitar Practice Routine Page for the complete list of articles.
Since my day was packed with lessons and workshops leading up to the evening concert, I was aware that if I practiced too much in the morning that I would burn out my hands by the time the show came around.
So, I limited myself to a few minutes here and there throughout the day of playing through tunes in order to warm up my hands, but not overdo it before the show started at 8pm.
Most of my practicing came right before the show as I spent about an hour running through tunes with pianist Sean Parsons and the student groups that I was performing with later that night.
By the time the concert came around I had managed to run through the material, not overdo it, get my hands warmed up but not tiring them out.
This is not an easy thing to do, especially when teaching and giving workshops all day, so I was glad I was able to pace myself today in order to save my chops until the show started that night.
I started the day by working with Marshall’s top big band as they were preparing or an upcoming concert.
The band was rehearsing a fun version of “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” and so we worked on the first half or so of the chart in the hour I had to spend with the band.
Focusing on cleaning up the rhythm of each line, nailing the Salsa accents that underlined the chart, and practicing their solos without reading the changes, the band got a lot accomplished during our time together.
It helped that they are talented musicians to begin with, and that they were well rehearsed and had strong musical fundaments in place before I arrived.
This made my job very easy and fun as I was able to dive into the material right away and not worry about shoring up basic musical fundamentals in the rehearsal.
After the rehearsal ended I taught two private jazz guitar lessons. In the first we focused on fingerings and different approaches for working out chords and scales on the fretboard, as well as how these fingering choices would inspire and effect our improvisations on the bandstand.
During the second lesson, we focused on sight reading, working on ways that guitarists can improve their ability to sight read melodies, chords and solos.
As was the case the day before, the guitar students were fun to work with, they were attentive and asked great questions, and we were able to make a lot of progress in our short amount of time together.
To finish the day, and the teaching portion of my residency, I worked with a Jazz Improvisation class as we dove into rhythmic improvisation concepts with a particular focus on bringing a deeper sense of rhythmic development into our solos.
It was a long day of teaching, but a fun one. And when it was all over it was time to grab some quick food, head to rehearsal and get ready for the evening concert that was quickly approaching.
The evening’s concert was divided into three different groups. There was the duo between pianist Sean Parsons and myself, the student combos that I was performing with, and the solo/guitar duo section of the program.
As I expected, some of the tunes that I had prepared didn’t make it to the program, while others that I hadn’t worked on in the lead up to my residency worked their way into the performance.
Here is the final set list for the concert and the groups that played each tune:
All in all I was happy with my playing on the concert. A lot of the material I had worked on over the past 30 days came out in my playing, which felt good after putting a lot of time into working out these tunes for the show.
The room was packed and the audience was great. The students played their hearts out and every tune was fun and energetic, making my job as a guest soloist easy as the students were in top form.
I didn’t get to play all of the solo tunes that I had prepared, but that was fine with me. I really enjoyed playing the duo and combo tunes with the Marshall students, and so I’m glad that was able to happen even if it meant cutting a few tunes that I had worked up for the show.
After a whirlwind few days and a lot of prep leading up to the concert I was happy with the results, and from the reaction we got from the crowd, the audience had an enjoyable time as well.
Now that this project and residency is over, I am very glad that I went through with the 30-day preparation to get ready for the concerts and workshops at Marshall.
I was able to revisit material that I haven’t spent time on recently, including the Pat Martino book and Ted Greene’s chord books, which allowed me to look at this material from new angles as I have grown as a player since I last spent time on these subjects in the woodshed.
As well, once I got to Marshall and time was short, I was still a bit jet lagged and was in an unfamiliar environment, I’m glad I wasn’t worried about cramming tunes or trying to get my hands in shape right before the concerts and workshops, which wouldn’t have turned out well at all.
So, though there were days when I was tired and had to force myself to practice, and others where I loved every second I had on my guitar, overall I am happy with the progress I made in the woodshed and how that progress manifested itself on the bandstand when it came time to apply it to a concert situation.
I hope you had fun and got something out of following my 30 day jazz guitar practice routine series, hopefully I can do another one in the future as I get ready for my next performance project down the road.
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