It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to have some good consistent practice time, we’re moving in a couple days so most of my time has been spent thinking about what I’d like to be practicing while packing and carrying heavy things up and down the stairs. We’ve hit a pause before the actually move though so I had a couple hours between yesterday and today to work.
This exercise was prompted by a transcription I was given a few weeks ago. The great Bob Schulz sent me a video and transcription of a friend of his (John Bacon) improvising and playing through Chick Corea’s version of Thelonius Monk’s tune Work (more on that soon.) There’s a couple different sections of the transcription that use an RRR LLL sticking over triplets. Turns out, my hands don’t have that sticking down very well so I decided to employ an exercise style I suggest to a lot of my students (practice what you preach!)
I figure beyond just refining the technique needed to get multiple clean bounces, I also just need good old “time spent” playing this sticking. It can be difficult to find enough ways to practice an idea to really get your “reps” in. For instance, I could play the measures from the transcription in question 20 times but then what? 20 more times? If a typical exercise takes you 5 minutes to work through but you want more time with it make a playlist. Two or three songs and you’ve doubled your practice time, not to mention the added benefits of grooving with the likes of Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb or Ringo and McCartney, whatever you’re into.
Today I used an exercise employing single, double, triple and quadruple strokes over triplets while playing along with Miles Davis’ Freddie Freeloader. Once through the tune flew by so I played it again, that’s 19 minutes for those keeping track. I would have played through it another two or three times if nap time hadn’t stopped me (for the toddler, not me!) Here’s a look at the exercise superimposed over the changes to Freddie Freeloader.
You can take this exercise in a lot of directions beyond mere “reps’. By superimposing it over a 12 bar blues I’m working on song form. I could change dynamics every chorus or soloist to add in another layer. You could sing the head/solos as you go. You’re really only limited here by your imagination. Let me know if you come up with any good ones!