How's Your Aim?
We all struggle with time. HA HA in both ways, time in music and time to practice.
I was letting it slip away from me. I LOVE practicing. It's really a big part of my life. So recently I got organized again. Instead of my practicing broken up throughout the day, I organized it into a minimum 2 hour chunk. I can come back to it, but I need to set aside 2 hours to practice. If things get real busy I can bump that one block down to 1.5 hours. But I thought, this is what I love to do and it's the center of my life, so I should be able to set aside 1.5 hours minimum a day, if not 2 hours. With the semester over it's an easy 2 minimum. Usually I can get in more.
I've thought about a lot of things over the last month. I thought about scales which I stopped practicing and I know other pros don't practice them. However I thought about this. Scales serve ONE purpose (once you have them down), they build up your hands and keep them in shape. Whenever I get back to scales from a break they are very hard for me. They shouldn't be right? Scales should be easy for a pro. I know a GREAT piano player, George Mesterhazy (who played with Burton) who couldn't play a triad arpeggio. Why? Because he never does. He thought it was funny, and it was, because George was a MONSTER player.
So I'm back into scales and totally digging it. I mix them up on the fly and do single sticking and double sticking. But only for 15 minutes and I can feel the difference already.
I think of scales like weights. You lift weights or ride that stationary bicycle to build your muscles, right? You could go out and ride in the park or work and lift heavy stuff. But you're doing something to build your muscles. Scales are that for me.
The other thing I got back to was Parker. This was because of Joe Magnarelli. He has a bunch of Parker solos memorized and uses the solos every day to center his feel. I had done a similar thing. But for me it's about articulation and AIM. Yes we have to have good aim to play the vibes, right?
I use Moose the Mooche to check out my aim. For me it's very hard to play on the vibes. If i can play it my aim is good, if I can not play it, my aim is off! And my aim goes off every now and then. When I just came back to the tune my aim was VERY VERY off! I've played the head for 4 days now and played it slowly and have fine tuned my aim a bit.
Does anyone thing about aim like I do?
The other thing is to play a Parker solo to work on your feel. It's all there. He was such a master, I really don't think there's been anyone else really like him. Oh one other person. Bach. I just play a few bars each day out of the Omnibook for now and I feel like I'm playing the drums on the vibes or something. And I think isn't this what the instrument should feel like? It is percussion and we are using sticks.
I use an App on my iPhone called 30/30. You make a list of timers. So I have a practice list, 15 mins scales, 1 hour work on tunes and rhythm, whatever. Then for 45 minutes I play solo and record it. I don't stop. Meaning I go from tune to tune and try to make music of any kind. 4 mallets, 2 mallets, it doesn't matter. I do that for about 30 minutes and then I listen back and write in my Journal, for which I use Evernote.
I love this, and am glad I'm back into it. (about 2 weeks now). I've kept these types of things going for years now. Lately it all got away from me with doing bullshit business stuff. Which I hate and am sure most of you do also. I do practice every day, but I had to get back to being a little organized about it.
But I think practicing is like meditating. You meditate and think of nothing. If you think of something, it doesn't mean you fail. It just means you put it out of your head and get back to practicing. Same with practicing, if you get off just get back on.
I know some pros here aren't into practicing. That is of course fine. For me I LOVE doing it and it's important it's a priority for me.