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Looking for jazz rhythm practice technique advice


MoKen

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After years of playing music with a strong, steady beat I began taking jazz lessons a couple of months ago. My teacher is trying to get me to be "free" with my rhythms but when it try this I immediately lose the 1. I can learn complicated rhythms by rote but then they're predictable. Somehow I need to learn to internalize not only the beat, but also the count, while my hands are doing something else.

 

This is solo piano/organ so I can't rely on a drummer or bass, etc.

 

We're both getting frustrated with me.

 

I know there a many accomplished folks here, and many of you are teachers. Any practice tips or techniques would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Ken

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when you say free with your rhythms, perhaps it would help you if you first defined what those were for yourself, then practice by playing scales or arpeggios (known and unchanging patterns) using those rhythms (with a metronome as tim suggests). You have it right that you need to always internalize the beat

oh have you ever heard of Hanon exercises? play those with these rhythms

sounds to me that you just need to put some time in to familiarize yourself with rhythms that for now feel foreign to you. putting the time in with diligent practice -- it's probably the most important step to achieving greatness! Everything new seems foreign until you put in the time :)

 

tim what is meant by "2 & 4"

VPC-1 w/Ivory II & Nord Electro 3
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If the problem is not being able to play with a 'floating' feel, a simple exercise would be to play some steady rhythm for, say, two bars, then switch to a more 'free floating' phrasing for the next two bars, and keep alternating like that. Then you can try four bars periods, etc.

 

If the problem is not being able to play or hear superimposed accents, you just have to interiorize them. Start with the simplest one: Eight-notes with accents of three. Play a simple three-note figure, like C-D-G, and keep repeating it in eight-notes (swing or straight), trying to keep the beat.

When you're able to do it for two bars without losing 'one', try four bars. Then do the same with eight-notes in five-note and seven-note groups. Then triplets with groups of two, four, five.

The ultimate test is to be able to play *just* the accents - the first note of every group.

 

 

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To internalize the rhythms of jazz, surround yourself with it. Listen to nothing but jazz music and its rhythms will work their way into your brain by osmosis. The next step is then to get your fingers to follow, but that's the easy part (it will be by then). By all means consciously analise what others are doing, but you need to get a feel for the music. It's like wanting to talk without having bothered to learn any vocabulary.
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Thank you. I knew there would be good advice here.

 

longfuse - I have surrounded myself with jazz (Peterson, Monk, and Silver mostly). I think your comment about talking is apt because I not only can't talk, I don't always understand. I can't always keep track of the 'one' just listening unless I'm strictly counting it out.

 

Tim - if I understand correctly you're suggesting that I practice with a metronome set at half speed, thus only marking the 2 and 4 (or 1 and 3, depending on when I start the measure). I'm guessing that I don't want the different click that normally would mark the 'one', correct? I fear that in short order I won't be able to know which is 2 and which is 4. How do you use this type of practice? I must confess that Metheny lost me completely.

 

Marino - I think you've hit it. It's the 'floating' feel I'm having trouble with. Once I abandon a regular (or practiced) rhythm I quickly lose track of the position within a measure and when a new measure starts. I'm going to try the exercises you suggested.

 

dazzjazz - another excellent suggestion. I will work on that as well.

 

Thanks again to all of you. I realize it's a long road, but it's hard to be patient.

 

Ken

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Ken,

 

Right, the metronome would be set at half speed, and be 2 and 4 NOT 1 and 3 in order for the exercise to work. I've been doing this a bit lately with my lessons and practice. The Metheny video might be too advanced, I know it is for me (I get what he's doing, but in this case a simpler example would be better, I think).

 

What I would suggest is that you pick a simple pattern, such as something with a half or quarter note bass line, and set your metronome up to play on 2 and 4 only to play with it. If you do a half note pattern like this, you'll be playing on the 1 and 3, while the metronome is on the two and four so you'll have to internalize that part of the beats.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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You do have to break it down to see what you're playing, but here's a small non-exercise thought to go with the good exercises others have suggested

 

About internalizing - if you can't feel something, it's hard to play it. But if you can get one thing to feel right (one line or one section), you potentially can get everything right.

 

Practice isn't only the time and analysis spent at the keyboard. Take a line or section you're having trouble with and think about it when you're away from the keyboard. Loop it in your head, feel it, and then try to play it.

 

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MoKen,

 

In my opinion, if you are losing the 1 you better keep yourmetronome on the 1 and the 3 until that stops happening. Then you can try the exercise of putting it on 2 and 4. If you can keep track of 1 then putting the metronome on 2 and 4 is not hard. The metronome on the 2 and the 4 was an exercise popularized at Berkeley School Of Music to simulate a jazz high hat accent. Nothing wrong with it, but it's not a solution for losing 1.

 

When you say "be fee with my rhythms", I take it you mean the abilty to start and end your improvised lines anywhere within the measures.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." 

Harry teaches jazz piano online using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Google Meet.

 

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Starting and ending improv lines anywhere would be great. However, right now I'm just trying to be able to add some comp chords with an interesting rhythm (dotted quarter/eighth, for example) at unpredictable places within a measure. I'm striving to be able to place those accents on any beat of the measure without losing track of where I am.

 

My instructor has me trying to play the melody with my right hand while playing the bass note plus harmony with the left hand. I can do this fairly well as long as I keep it regular. However when I try to insert the left hand parts at irregular intervals I lose the time. So I've simplified and am not playing the melody but only trying to play the harmony chords at irregular intervals while keeping the 1. Baby steps. This is working better but by no means is it solid yet.

 

I can see how the 2-4 exercise would help build awareness of the place within the measure. You have to really pay attention to know where the 1 is.

 

Thanks to all.

 

Ken

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........learn to play on, between and against the beat and not lose your center. Tap your foot with the click to internalize the metrodone. Then listen to what this guitar picker has to say on the subject. "You know what I mean". :D

 

 

 

[video:youtube]TZ4FZ80Qdd8

 

Beginning at the 2:36 mark

[video:youtube]ZjlXCqPNXVc

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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