Jazz Practice Routine

A Modern Jazz Trumpet Practice Routine & Play Along

Jazz Practice Routine

You need to work on technique, but are bored with the same routine?

One of the benefits I had while working on my undergraduate degree was playing a Bill Adam - styled routine with another trumpet player. That allowed us to rest at least as long as we played. This one element alone helps out your chops (embouchure) and build endurance. 


That routine covered all of the important aspects of playing any brass player needs to be a successful musician: rhythm, tone, articulation/tonguing, slurring, range, endurance, dynamics, scales, arpeggios, etc.

The Problem:

It's made for legit (classical/orchestral) trumpet players in mind. Probably like you, my focus was on Jazz/commercial music.

The Solution:

Adapt it to make it fit your needs. I did this intuitively many years ago. But, others needed a little help so I created the Modern Jazz Trumpet Practice Routine and Play-Along.

What's In It?


The type of exercises inside are probably familiar to most trumpet players: Clarke studies, flexibilities, range studies, Arban style arpeggios etc. All things that are good for your technique. But, this is different because each exercise has been adapted with a Jazz focus for you that also features elements from the Jazz Targeting Method.


It's a great way for students to transition from their standard practice routines into one that prepares you for improvisation while still working on your technique. 


The play-along feature allows a player to hear and watch an exercise example at a moderate tempo and then play it immediately afterwards. While every good teacher preaches having good time; this play-along has another sweet benefit:

A boring metronome?

You don't need another one of those. You probably have one on your phone that never gets used.

A basic metronome is boring. Tick..Tick...Tick...Tick. It can be torture.

DrumGenius:

This play along uses a fabulous app (that's been reviewed on this blog here) that features realistic swing drum patterns that function like a metronome. Incredible practice with a virtual drummer!

How to use it:

1

Download the sheet music...For FREE

There's a form underneath the videos below that will take 10 seconds to fill out and an email will be sent to you with the PDF sheet music.

2

Play-along with the 'A' Day

This play-along will take you on a ride through a Jazz-focused routine that highlights major key areas.

3

Play-along with the 'B' Day

This play-along will take you on a ride through a Jazz-focused routine that highlights minor key areas.

visualizing pentatonic targets

Visualizing the Pentatonic and Targets

2020 Update –

It’s been years since I’ve done the Improvisation Thursday Facebook Live. It’s had a number of variations (i.e. YouTube’s Lick of the Day, What To Do With These Licks, etc.). You can still view the videos, but if you’d like the most up-to-date info; I would invite you to visit my online school.

Visualizing the Pentatonic Scale and Their Targets

Have you been following along on the Improvisation Thursday Facebook Live events? If not, you can click HERE to check out the previous week’s videos highlighting who they’re for, how I believe they can help you, and where to start. If you came to check out the visuals you can scroll to the bottom. But, if need a quick synopsis of what we’ve discussed-here you go:

  • They’re for beginner Jazz improvisation students
  • They’re for any level of improvisors that have been frustrated with their progress up to this point and want a different perspective
  • They’re for educators looking for a better way to start out their students

What is Targeting?

  • Targeting = aiming at a goal note with purpose. This can be on a micro scale (from chord to chord and guide-tone to guide-tone) or on a macro scale (key areas and longer phrases).

What makes good targets?

  • When thinking micro: the guide-tones. Traditionally the 3rds and 7ths of chords because they help define the quality of the chord. However, these can be expanded to include the root, 5th, and extensions
  • When thinking macro: they key center’s 1, 3, and 5. For example, if we have a progression (or part of one) in the key of C; our target notes would be C, E, and G (1st, 3rd, and 5th of the key). I prefer to teach the macro approach to beginners because it’s easier to find and hear. This also gets the beginner thinking horizontally (melodically) instead of vertically (harmonically). Those targets also end up being other guide tones as well.

Caught Up? Great!

Visualizing the Pentatonic Scale

As I mentioned in the Facebook Live video, it may benefit you to visualize the pentatonic scale less like a scale and more like a collection of pitches. While working with a student recently (thanks for letting me share Noah!) we found that this can help get you out of thinking in terms of dots on a page and more towards the letter association. If numbers work for you too…go for it! Here’s how we’re visualizing it:

If you “stretch out” the scale to the full range of your instrument it might look like this:

If it helps to think of where your octaves are than we can include a line also:

This is where visualizing the layout and having the targets marked was helpful for Noah:

This will prove even more helpful as we start to expand our tools to get to our targets AND keeping the pentatonic as a melodic “home base.”

Key of C Pentatonic Target Examples

– 2020 Update –

It’s been years since I’ve done the Improvisation Thursday Facebook Live. It’s had a number of variations (i.e. YouTube’s Lick of the Day, What To Do With These Licks, etc.). You can still view the video, but if you’d like the most up-to-date info; I would invite you to visit my online school.

How Can I Use the Pentatonic Scale to Target?

Have you been following along on the Improvisation Thursday Facebook Live events? If not, you can click HERE to check out the previous week’s videos highlighting who they’re for, how I believe they can help you, and where to start. If you have and just want the free examples you can scroll to the bottom. But, if need a quick synopsis of what we’ve discussed-here you go:

  • They’re for beginner Jazz improvisation students
  • They’re for any level of improvisors that have been frustrated with their progress up to this point and want a different perspective
  • They’re for educators looking for a better way to start out their students

 

What is Targeting?

  • Targeting = aiming at a goal note with purpose. This can be on a micro scale (from chord to chord and guide-tone to guide-tone) or on a macro scale (key areas and longer phrases).

What makes good targets?

  • When thinking micro: the guide-tones. Traditionally the 3rds and 7ths of chords because they help define the quality of the chord. However, these can be expanded to include the root, 5th, and extensions
  • When thinking macro: they key center’s 1, 3, and 5. For example, if we have a progression (or part of one) in the key of C; our target notes would be C, E, and G (1st, 3rd, and 5th of the key). I prefer to teach the macro approach to beginners because it’s easier to find and hear. This also gets the beginner thinking horizontally (melodically) instead of vertically (harmonically). Those targets also end up being other guide tones as well.

What tools can I use to get to the targets?

We can use the pentatonic scale as a source of melodic content as well as using it as a tool to get to our targets. I like to use them for both as each line we play should have the end-note (target) in mind. The below examples are in the key of C, but notice how each line ends on either the 1st (C), 3rd (E), or 5th (G) of the key. It’s a free pdf file that you can use to start getting some ideas in your ear and under your fingers.

***Key of C Pentatonic Target Examples*** (download here)

The end is here

The End Is Here

End-Note Targets

I wanted to share a simple tip that has been helping my students. I’ve talked about targeting concepts for a long time, but we can view them in a number of different ways. For example, we can target the guide tones (3rds/7ths of chords) as we move from bar to bar or even do harmonic targeting where we aim for key area changes.

Targeting as Punctuation

Today’s tip is to look at targeting as a form of punctuation. By having an end-note in mind we force ourselves to not wander aimlessly in the moment.

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

-Zig Ziglar

This is definitely a challenge (especially for beginners), because we spend so much time worrying about how do I start something as opposed to how do I finish? I have found for most, this is not intuitive and it has to practiced. But, I have found that it has yielded some great results for my own playing as well as some of my students.

The concept is simple. Pick an end-note somewhere in the progression and choose to make that your punctuation. The creative part is what you can do with it on the left-side of the target. Here’s an example:

I decided to pick the 5th of the CMaj7 as my end-note (target) in this ii-V-I example. The goal is to use it as a type of punctuation. I can change the note value or even where it’s placed within the bar, but I need to have some sort of stopping point (punctuation) to try and resist the urge to keep adding on. This where most people tend to wander in their improvisation. We want to keep adding and keep building to the same line without stopping and let it have its own sentence structure.

Here is an option of what I might do with the above (the possibilities are close to endless). The creative part is that we can do almost anything to the left of the target and it will work because we picked a strong end-note. The ear hears the tension on the left and the resolution of the target. If you want some other ideas about what you can do for the left side, check out my online school online school.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you used this thought-process before (end-note targets to make a punctuation)? Share the line you’d play if you made the G your end-note target…

I hope this simple tip has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way!

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Klobnak Joins B.A.C.

Jason Klobnak Joins the B.A.C. Family!

Klobnak Joins B.A.C.

I am absolutely thrilled, honored, and incredibly excited to share that I am now an endorsing artist for the B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman) company based out of Kansas City, MO (USA)! Mike Corrigan and the staff at B.A.C. do an amazing job creating some of the best brass instruments in the world. Everything is done in their shop in Kansas City and is handmade with the finest craftsmanship and detail.

I met Mike and a few of his staff at NAMM 2017 (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California in January. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with just about every trumpet they had at their booth. I was the guy that kept trying their trumpets, went away and tried others, and then kept coming back like a lost puppy. After some conversation in Anaheim and later over the phone; I officially joined the family! It is an honor to be on the same roster as great musicians like Delfeayo Marsalis, Kenny Rampton, Kevin Williams, Jim Pugh, Michael Ray, Paul Nowell, Marcus Lewis, and a host of others.

Be sure to check out B.A.C’s website at CoolIsBac

To see Jason’s other Endorsements click Here.

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Using my BAC Custom

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Klobnak Joins Denis Wick

Jason Klobnak Joins the Denis Wick Family!

Klobnak Joins Denis Wick

Klobnak joins the Denis Wick family! I am absolutely thrilled, honored, and incredibly excited to share that I am now an endorsing artist! Denis Wick (London) makes some of the best mouthpieces, mutes, and accessories for brass players around. While I have been performing and recording with the Denis Wick adjustable cup mute for almost 20 years, I have never had the opportunity to really check out their mouthpieces until January of 2017.

I met Mary and a few other Wick artists at NAMM 2017 (National Association of Music Merchants) in Anaheim, California in January. I had the pleasure of trying out a few of their mouthpieces and there was an instant comfort, yet familiarity that I fell in love with. I have made the switch over to the American Classic 3C (and Classic 3E when I need something a little brighter) and they keep surprising me every time I put them in my trumpet. I can color the sound, yet still have the comfort and endurance to make it through an entire night of R&B/Soul music without feeling shot the next day. I would gladly recommend any of the fine Denis Wick products to students and colleagues.

So, I have officially joined the family! It is an honor to be on the same roster as so many great musicians that perform all types of brass instruments.
Be sure to check out Denis Wick’s North American site at DANSR.COM

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Using my Denis Wick American Classic 3C

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Harmonic Targeting

My previous blog posts about targeting concepts (aiming at a goal note with purpose) have dealt with the various ways we can get to the targeted note. We’ve also discussed what makes a good target. But, in today’s post I wanted to touch on something that I think might help a number of players and that is the concept of harmonic targeting.

The idea is similar in that we’re aiming at a goal note with purpose, but it is more about a specific goal note that makes the difference in harmonic targeting. In the harmonic progression, we want to find the note (or notes) that shifts or alters the harmonic landscape of the progression into a different key area (whether that’s a temporary modulation or an actual key change).

Let’s take a look at some examples:

One of the earliest concepts of harmonic targeting I learned as a young student was making sure I was hitting the major third of the chord change in the 8th bar of a blues

.

There was a definite departure from the Bb key area by having the B natural stick out at you. So it became a goal to make sure that every time that 8th bar came around that I aimed for that B. What do you play to get to that B? Check out other posts on my blog for tips or get my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose

What can you harmonically target? The answer is just about anything that highlights that you’ve departed from the key area you were just in. That can happen quickly or just occasionally. It’s up to you, but I like making sure that the drastic changes are caught. Let’s look at another example in the B section of There Will Never Be Another You

This progression (like hundreds of others) have a couple harmonic targeting spots that you could aim for. The Db7(#11) could be a highlight for instance. However, the F7 is what sticks out like a sore thumb. That A-natural lasts for 2 measures making it an excellent choice for a targeted note. As an added note, I like making that F7 into an F7(#11) for added color. 

I hope you find this tip useful for yourself or your student’s playing in some way. It’s a simple concept, but one that helps you play through harmonic progressions with more confidence.

Thank you for checking out my blog! I would invite you to visit my online school.

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jazz drones

Not Your Ordinary Drones

Not Your Ordinary Drones

I want to talk about drones, but not your ordinary ones. Other sites and musicians have talked about the benefits of warming up with drones, exploring shapes and intervals. All of this is great and something I personally use now and then too. If you haven’t explored this area before I would suggest you at least try it. It’s an amazing way to open up your ears and explore music’s various layers.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m still not sure what you mean by drones. Aren’t those the remote control things you fly around to annoy your neighbors?” Well, yes. But, not this topic. Here’s a great YouTube example of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen talking about how she uses a drone:

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“A musical drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece.” – Wikipedia

Instead of rehashing what others have already talked about, I want explore some other ways we can use a drone through the lens of targeting. Targeting is aiming at a goal (note) with purpose. It’s one of the central points of how I improvise and teach improvisation. While it’s great to explore a scale, intervals, or free-improvisation with a fixed pitch (drone)-I have found that beginners and intermediate musicians often have a hard time hearing the note they are aiming for.

What to Use

There are a number of great tools that create a drone. Ingrid Jensen mentioned her device in the video above. You can use just about anything that will create a sustained pitch. I have used a piano with the sustain pedal, computer software (garageband, Logic Pro, etc), YouTube (which has a WIDE range of options that you could spend hours searching), or one of my favorites: iReal Pro

Beginners and intermediate improvisors have to be intentional with what they practice. It’s too easy to get distracted and let your imagination go on a tangent. That’s ok when it’s time to explore and foster creativity. But, students need to hear where their line is going. What does it sound like when you are targeting the 3rd of major chord? How does that sound different when you’re targeting the 3rd of dominant chord? What about minor? If a student can learn to hear what targeting sounds like it opens up the creative mind to be able to explore it in real-time. This is why I like using iReal Pro because you get to choose not only the harmonic situation (major, minor, diminished, etc), but you get to do it while keeping time and locking in with a rhythm section that won’t slow down or speed up.

Here’s how I use iReal Pro as a drone:

  • create a new song using the blank template
  • pick a chord type that you need to work on (major 7th, dominant, minor 9th, etc)
  • type that chord in the first measure and set up whatever repeat function you desire
  • set the repeats 30x
  • pick a tempo and feel (swing, bossa, etc)
  • work on first targeting the root in as many ways as you can imagine with various tools with GOOD rhythm (for more info on those tools you can check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose).
  • Once you’ve felt like you’ve fully explored the root move on to the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and other extensions (9th, 11th, 13th)
  • Now move on to the same chord type, but in a different key.
  • Apply what you just did to a song or harmonic progression you’re working on

All of the above is good practice for any musician. It will get you to focus on the sound of targeting so you can hear where you’re going. This will also give a student plenty of practice!

Thank you for checking out my blog! If you’d like to learn more; check out the online school.

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