Re: I need your help!!!
Your question is a very common and important one. The study of Jazz is a lifetime pursuit. It's great that you've decided to become more focused. There are 4 catagories that I use to help students learn more efficiently: scales, chords, tunes (this includes chord progressions), and language.
1. Every practice session should include working on a type of scale. Don't forget to work on these scales at many different tempos and in 12 keys. I know this sounds basic but you'd be surprised how many auditions I've heard where the player can't play a scale steadily from root to root without making a mistake. Speed is not as important as accuracy. Start with major then include mixolydian, dorian, locrian, lydian, whole-tone, diminished, and diminished-wholetone. There are many other scales that exist but these few scales that I listed are seen more frequently in the beginning.
2. Chords--learn to play chord tones in 12 keys to the following chords: Maj 7, Dominant 7, Minor 7, half-diminished, and fully diminished. Again, these are the basic chords found in the beginning. Students too often make the mistake of not learning the basics and moving on to things that they think are unique.
Arppegiate these chords from the root up to the 7th. You should also practice them from 7th to the root but do this as a separate exercise not 1-3-5-7-7-5-3-1. This doesn't teach you to be able to find the 7th by itself.
3. Tunes. Learn about chords progression. David Baker has a great book called "How to Learn Tunes" It is important to understand the common ground within certain chord progressions. Then try to learn a new tune. In my opinion if you really "know a tune" you should be able to play the melody from memory in at least one key, preferably 12 keys, and you should be able to list the chords, again as a progression not just reciting the actual chords. Pretend that you have to explain the song to a rhythm section that is backing you up. In order to reinforce a progression I usually pick a slow tempo on my metronome and practice playing all of the chords tones from memory. I will go through several choruses of a tunes with the following exercise:
1st chorus: just roots
2nd chorus: roots and 3rds
3rd: 3rd then roots
This exercise really enforces the sound of the bass line and chord types in your ears.
Finally, Jazz is a languauge. The best way to learn a language is to learn basic words and phrases through imitation. Jazz is no different. Transcriptions are the best way to learn jazz. Working on scales, chords, and progressions, will help develop your ears and understanding of the material that you hear from professional players. Find a solo that speaks to you and learn it by ear. You should pick a tune to which you can find the chord progression. The end goal is to learn a solo and be able to play along with the original recording. This will help your sound and style. The bi-product is to remove small portions or words from this solo and to figure out what chord or progression the idea was used over. Then you can take these "licks" or patterns and use them for yourself in a similar tune. Imitation is the fastest way for you to learn jazz. Then you can work on being original. Transcription books are ok but they don't teach you as quickly as doing it yourself. If you are going to use a book make sure that you have to original recording of the solo and still play along.
It doesn't matter how much time you spend. We all learn at different levels. Just pick a goal from each of those topics and get started. Good Luck,
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