I've never really developed a practice routine that seemed to produce a really full and rounding feeling after practicing. Especially entering the summer and getting away from school, when i'll have hours and hours to dedicate to practicing everyday, i want to develop something fairly concrete that I can base my practicing around. I feel like i'm missing some important aspects of my playing in my practicing because they get pushed aside for more immediate concerns, in particular sight-reading and ear-training. Any input on your practice routines would be great to hear. I'm 16, have been playing percussion for about 4 1/2 years, and jazz vibes for 2. I'm wondering the amount of time to spend on each category of practicing, as well as if starting with anything in particular would be benificial. thanks.

i usually warm up with a few scales to get my hands going. back in the day i spent time running through each mode in a key center.

i would think your possibilities would include that as well as:

an etude of some sort. bach, friedman, something

listening and learning about jazz and players.

open and closed chord voicing maybe one chord in a few different keys.

a little transcribing to work on ears.

singing.. yep singing. put on aebersold and sing your solo!!

learning a tune off a cd.

and... hmmm what else?

just remember when you work on ANYTHING you're working on EVERYTHING. so just work and do stuff. try to prepare a piece and then record it and keep recording it until you have an acceptable version. then move on. i do that ALL the time.

let's see what others say.

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

Great plan for practicing!

I would like to offer this to the overall arc of it...

Two rules from my current teacher, who is not a musician... but they are great rules:

#1 - Practice so you like doing it. In practical terms, related to music, this means don't just plod through scales and arpeggios as you play them; give them musical shapes and expression. Actually play them. Play whatever emotion you are feeling on a particular day. Angry scales are fun; they release tension. Gentle, sleepy scales are dreamy and let your mind wander into the beautiful sound of the instrument. In the end, even the most mundane parts of your practice routine will be more enjoyable and you will do it more and more because you like to... which leads to...

#2 - Practice a lot, gently. Don't beat yourself up; Don't push yourself to the painful limits of what you can do. Such kinds of practice teach bad habits like tensing up as you play that will come back to haunt you. Sometimes practice as near to that limit as you can get while remaining relaxed. This will still push your limit, but it will prevent the need to unlearn the tension.

Practicing is the act of trying to play the unfamiliar.

Bob Wesner


well my backround is totally different (amateur, twice as old as you are) but I found Tony's comment "when you work on ANYTHING you're working on EVERYTHING" is what works best. My practicing - due to the limited time I have - has reduced to working on tunes.

The disadvantage is that once I learned one tune or got stuck and can't achieve further improvement I simply forget it after some time.

The good thing is that the knowledge I get by playing tunes is applicable to all tunes - this way I already have the root, third and seventh combinations of about 10 to 15 chords "stored" mostly in my left hand. Same for scales - the ones I use for a tune I know - pretty few so far.

So I am progressing slowly but surely and my impression is that only what one knows to do by heart is what he is capable of - at least for me.

Cheers Stefan

I look at it this way:

The reason I practice is so I can play what and how I want

So I picture myself in a balloon and every time I play anything, my goal is to get more air into the balloon. Air is music and the balloon is the current boundary of my capabilities. The balloon is constantly expanding and changing shape.

More air is created by being able to play in whole or in part, something I really want to be able to play. I let passion and desire drive me to build on my strengths and the things I love. I consistently move within this balloon; always returning to untamed challenges and creating more air.
Never forget why you make music!!!

At some point I hope to breath freely and burst the balloon, playing without restriction of any kind.
Never forget why you make music!!!

You cannot replace time on the instrument so use your time wisely.
Never forget why you make music!!!

Why do you make music?
Practice that!

Todd Canedy
Don't stop asking until you understand. Once you understand constantly confirm it.

Hey ntvito...(sorry don't know your real name),

Maybe you have found these already but below are some discussions on the site to get you started on this:

Hope this helps!


I've been a university student for a little over 11 years. I've had my own vibraphone for nearly 7 years or so. Being a percussion performance major at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level is very demanding, if not ridiculous. However, I had stuff that I had to practice for ensembles at school that did not include jazz vibraphone. In order to heighten my vibraphone awareness I placed my vibraphone near my bed. It was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep and the first thing I saw when I woke up. If it is in front of me I can't seem to keep my hands quiet. I'm sure other players can attest to this.

For the past couple of years I've had an open-floor plan type of apartment. I picked up many hours of random, what I call pedestrian, practice. I would get up from working on a paper and walk over to the vibes and work on a tune or exercise that came to mind. Some times I'd even wake up in the middle of the night and stumble over to the vibes to see if I could play Donna Lee or Joy Spring. Eventually, I got married and it wasn't so cool to jam on the blues in E major at 4 in the morning. See what you can get away with. Passive and Active practicing are two types of philosophies that I think about from time to time. If I feel like playing a tune or a cycle of scales I'll do it. It can take as little as 5 minutes, but sometimes it can take you hours to completely do whatever it was you thought about.

I hope that was helpful and that I didn't sound like a completely crazy vibraphone obsessed looney.

All the best,

Timothy Van Cleave

Being a looney is almost a requirement. I really can't think of any vibraphone players who amounted to anything taking a casual approach. Its the nature of the instrument.


IMHO, there is no perfect practice routine. Every player has different needs so every player's practice routine will be different. When I first started playing vibes 9 years ago, I worked intently on major and minor scales and chords because that's what I really needed back then. Right now, I'm working on #9, -9, half-diminished and diminished chords and scales. One way I do this is play them. Another way I do this is sing them ... yeah, sing them! If you can sing a scale, you own that scale. If you can't sing it, you really don't know it, you can only play it. I also am spending a lot of time memorizing tune melodies and chords because I've started to gig and NOW I really NEED to memorize these things.

There's also no perfect amount of time anyone can suggest for you for the different things you want to practice. You need to be your own judge of that. If you're not making the progress you want to, you probably need more time working on it.

In two months from now, my practice routine will probably be different because my needs will change ... and that's exactly what it should do; change with my needs.

Ed De Gennaro

The people who are the best at what they do

1) Work at the stuff they aren't good at
2) Spend more hours than most people are willing to spend

If you want to improve your reading, spend an hour a day, reading, every day. Charts, Bach (two part inventions are great for reading practice), fake books, method books for other instruments etc. Use a metronome and start slow. Challenge yourself by bumping up the tempo. It will be frustrating at first. Try to start at the same time every day and just get the hour done, and quit after exactly an hour and move to something else. If you can't do an hour, then 30 minutes, but you did say you have the time.

My suggestion is to start there. If you can focus for that one aspect, then others will follow. If you aren't able to do that, it will be a challenge to create a more detailed practice routine.

Maybe someone else can chip in about ear training.

You do best what you do most.