Archive for the ‘Visualization’ Category

Happy New Year! 8 Musical Resolutions That Will Change Your Playing

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

A new year is the perfect time to look back at what you’ve accomplished in the practice room and to look forward  to what you still wish to achieve as a musician. It’s also a great time to make a fresh start, to realign yourself musically, and to set some new goals. So, Happy New Year!

…now what are you going to do to become a better improviser?

A while back we posted 100 New Years Resolution Ideas for the Improviser. These resolutions are great to choose from for your daily or weekly practice routines, however there are some major points that are truly pivotal in making you a better improviser. If you focus intently on these key elements, you’ll be able to transform yourself musically.

Here are 8 musical resolutions for the new year that will make you a better improviser.

I) Work on Ear Training

The #1 area of your musicianship that will make you a better improviser is your ears. Your success as an improviser depends on your ability to hear and understand the sounds around you: melodies, chord progressions, intervals, time signatures, the other musicians in your band, etc.

All of this goes directly back to your ears.

It’s important to intellectually understand the theory and construction of the music, but to truly play it you must be able to hear it. This means working on ear training.

Here are some articles that you should check out to improve your ears:

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Overcoming Mental Limitations in Music

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I can’t.

We’ve all said these fateful words at one point or another.

Fill in the blank for your own situation. “ I can’t (____)”…draw, run long distances, wake up early, stop eating cheesecake.

Everyday there are literally dozens of things that we convince ourselves that we simply cannot do, and playing music and improvising are no exception. From the tasks in the practice room that feel like too much work, to the skills that we have no experience with, to those dreaded moments that strike fear into our hearts, it’s all too easy to say I can’t and give up.

It seems natural, easy, and even trivial to say these words, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself: Is this really true?

At the moment these statements just might be true — you gave it a try, you failed, and it just didn’t work out. However, the consequences of hanging onto this limiting mindset can run deeper than you might expect, especially as a musician, and I’ll show you why.

Over the years, I’ve taught at various jazz camps and workshops and instructed hundreds of students in private lessons. A curious thing that I’ve noticed about new students is that many come in with a preset belief about themselves or performing music.

Young, old, beginner, comeback player, weekend player – it doesn’t matter. There seems to be this burdening belief that all players carry around with them about some aspect of their playing.… Read More

Visualization One Key At A Time

Friday, January 6th, 2012

visualize one key at a time

Grab a sheet of paper or take the following quiz mentally and record your response time for each:

  1. What’s a ii V in the key of F# major?
  2. If the V7 of a ii V progression is Ab7, what’s the ii chord?
  3. What’s a iii Vi in the key of Db major?
  4. If the ii chord of a ii V progression is C# minor, what’s the V7 chord?
  5. If the ii V of a key is F- Bb7, what’s the VI7 of the key?

Now, judge your answers based on correctness and speed of response. Did any of them take you more than a split second?

Be honest with yourself. Chances are a couple of these questions took at least a few seconds for you to answer. You may not think that a few seconds is a big deal, I mean, you got the correct answer, right?

The problem is that after even a second of thought we can totally lose our creative focus. The more ingrained these fundamental progressions are, the less we have to think, and the freer we become.

Chord independence

Why is it difficult to quickly conjure some chords, while others are easy? We’re very used to encountering chords in a set way. For example, after A- we expect D7. Or after D7, we expect G major. But even standards mix and match these basic chord progressions.

These slight rearrangements of the chords can shift us just enough to make it so we screw up. For … Read More

Free Jazz Visualization Ebook

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Jazz Visualization Free Ebook from JazzAdvice.com

In the spirit of the holiday season, we’d like to say thank you to our thousands of awesome readers. We’ve received tons of generous donations, hundreds of provocative questions, and daily notes of thanks.

We greatly appreciate each and every one of you, which is why we put this Jazz Visualization Ebook together and are giving it away for free.

Download Now

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And if you’ve found the resources on this site helpful, please consider giving back.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Ingraining Jazz Language Through Visualization

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Visualize lines

We talk a lot about ingraining language. It’s vital to have an array of ideas at your fingertips for any given harmonic situation. And these ideas should be so ingrained that you can easily make them your own with little effort. Visualization can speed up the process of ingraining language tremendously.

Can’t visualize it, can’t play it

If you’ve ever seen the B-rate movie Only the Strong, you know that if you can’t ginga, you can’t fight. Just like Capoeira, in improvisation, if you can’t visualize it, you can’t play it.

Visualization is the key to playing anything. It’s an unconscious step that we all must go through to be able to play what we have in our mind. This mental image precedes everything you play whether you like it or not.

The people that seem to have everything at their fingertips are simply excellent visualizers: they can perfectly imagine what it’s like to play something before they play it, almost without even thinking.

The stuff that is easy for you to play is the stuff that is easy to visualize. In terms of easiness, aim to get anything you’re working on as easy to visualize as it is to visualize one note.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Well I don’t practice visualizing anything, so why can I play what I play?” The answer is: your body taught your mind how to visualize the line through repetition. You repeat something over and over enough, your mind “gets it,” … Read More

Visualizing Musical Progress

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Visualization can be a very powerful tool when it comes to achieving your goals. Everyone from professional athletes to ballet dancers have used this simple, but effective technique throughout training and competition to reach their peak level of performance. The simple task of mentally preparing for challenges and envisioning success can transform and drastically improve your musical performance.

In Visualization for Jazz Improvisation, the idea of using visualization to cultivate the techniques involved in improvisation were discussed. Once you’ve explored the benefits of visualizing chord tones and progression, don’t stop there. The technique of visualization can be used to positively affect every aspect of your playing and performance. Below are four more ideas for using this technique to improve your total musicianship.

Visualizing your sound

As a musician, your sound is one of the most important aspects of your playing. Whether you play classical trumpet, folk guitar, or jazz piano, your sound is the first thing that reaches a listener; and it’s the one aspect of your musicianship that can speak directly to the emotions of the listener.

However, contrary to what most people think, your sound does not come from the mouthpiece you use, the instrument model you play on, or the etudes that you study. Yes, these factors can influence your sound, but the origins of the sound you produce run much deeper.

It’s the concept of sound in your mind, the sound you hear in your head, that determines what is going to come out of … Read More

How to Play the Blues In All Keys

Monday, February 7th, 2011
blues A recent question from a reader inquired about the blues in all keys:
I'm a sax player and have been working through the blues in all keys for the past few months, and was wondering if you guys had any tips, tricks, or any advice?
We've all heard it time and time again: Learn the blues in all keys. It seems like a daunting task, but with these tips, you'll be well on your way.

Understand and Visualize the components of a Blues

Before you even learn to play on a blues in one key, it helps immensely to understand all the components of a blues. What do I mean by components? By components, I'm pertaining to the harmonic building blocks of the progression. For a typical blues, they consist of:
  • I dominant
  • IV dominant
  • ii V
  • iii Vi
  • iii Vi ii V (which is essentially covered by the previous 2 components, but lets be thorough)
The next step is to visualize each one of these components in relation to its tonic, in all keys. Here's the process...Read More

10 Visualization Exercises To Boost Your Chord Progression Recall

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

recall

If I asked you to name a iii VI ii V in the key of F#, how quickly could you conjure up the answer? If the time it takes you to think through that progression in your mind takes more than a millisecond, chances are you’re going to have a hell of a time playing over it. Common progressions like iii VI ii Vs must be so ingrained into your brain, that you don’t have to think to name them. You just know them. Visualizing these progressions daily will greatly improve your recall of common chord progressions, making it easier to think and play in all keys.

For the following 10 exercises, visualize just the chord symbols. Keep the chord symbol as simple as possible, for instance, do not visualize the “7” in a minor seventh chord or any alterations on dominants. This will help you “see” more quickly in all keys without cluttering the progression in your mind’s eye.

The goal is to clearly see in your mind’s eye a concise picture of the chord symbols for each progression in all keys.

1.) ii V I I

Start with a simple two-five progression, resolving to the tonic for two measure. Do the key of C, then move down in half steps until you’ve visualized the chord symbols in all the keys.

Two Five One

2.) ii V I

Now do a one-measure two-five resolving to the tonic for a bar. It should be easy after exercise #1. Continue through all the keys.… Read More

Great Jazz Ears: How to Get a Vivid Aural Imagination

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The extent to which your aural imagination is developed, largely determines: the quality of lines you play, how you play those lines (articulation, swing feel, inflection), and the sound you play with. Nothing has such an impact on your playing than your aural imagination. If there were a secret to improvising, developing your aural imagination would be it.

Ok, ok. I didn’t say oral imagination. You’ll have to go to the other 98% of the internet for that. Get your mind out of the gutter ;-)

When we go to improvise, we draw from a well of knowledge. This well is filled with things we’ve practiced, listened to, or studied theoretically. The stuff, though, that actually emerges during improvisation is the stuff that we can really hear. Want to change the way you sound? Change the way you hear.

The way we hear is the most neglected aspect of practicing improvisation. We simply expect to have great ears. The problem: great ears don’t just happen. They are something that are consciously developed over years and years of practice. But what does it even mean to have great ears and a vivid aural imagination?

We all hear differently. However, many traits of great ears can easily be identified. The ability to:

  • Hear and sing intervals
  • Hear and sing specific chord tones while a chord plays in the background
  • Hear and sing the roots of a progression
  • Hear a line from a recording and retain it. Slow it down in the mind. Then
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5 Ways to Practice Anywhere

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

One of the most frustrating feelings I have, is to get to the end of the day and realize that I haven’t practiced enough, or even worse, that I haven’t even touched my instrument. Whether it’s because of appointments, travel, school, or work commitments, it seems like there is always something getting in the way of our daily practice. However, just because we find ourselves away from our instruments, doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice practice time. Here are five easy ways to take control and turn that otherwise wasted time into useful practice time:

1. Visualization

The practice of visualization is used by people in all types of professions. Athletes visualize themselves performing at their peak before game time, politicians visualize themselves giving great speeches, and even surgeons mentally rehearse every aspect of a procedure before operating on a patient.

As musicians, we can also use this process to our advantage. Not only can we visualize a perfect performance, we can use this method to actually practice and reinforce techniques outside of the practice room. Scales, chord progressions, and even a transcribed solo that you have been learning, can improve by using visualization.

If you are still wondering what visualization is, read this article on visualization now for a step by step process on how to mentally practice for jazz improvisation. You can do these exercises while you are laying in bed before you fall asleep or any other downtime you have during the day.

Try picking a … Read More