The end is here
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The End Is Here

The End Is Here

I wanted to pass along a simple idea to my students that has been really beneficial. On this blog I’ve discussed targeting ideas for a long time, but we may look at them in many ways. We might target the guide tones (thirds/sevenths of chords) as we go from bar to bar, for example, or 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 endnote in mind we force ourselves to not wander aimlessly at the moment, but rather to focus on what we want to achieve and move towards it purposefully.

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

-Zig Ziglar

This is a significant problem (especially for novices), since we spend so much time focusing on HOW TO BEGIN rather than HOW TO FINISH. It isn’t intuitive for most people, and it must be learned through practice. However, I have discovered that when practiced consistently, it has yielded some great results for my own playing as well as some of my students.

The problem is that when we start playing, we tend to focus on the note we’re playing at the moment, and not on the note that’s coming next. Our attention is so focused on what our fingers are doing that we’re not thinking about the music as a whole. As a result, our playing can sound choppy and disconnected.

The Concept

The process is simple. Choose an end-note somewhere in the progression (cadences work best) 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:

The End

I decided to pick the 5th of the CMaj7 as the end-note (target) in this ii-V-I example. The goal is to use it as a type of punctuation. You can change the note value or even where it’s placed within the bar. But, it should 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 building to the same line without stopping and let it have its own sentence structure.

What I might do

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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