The Program

Just beginning the journey to becoming a better jazz guitarist.

I’ve taken stock of where I am as a player and where I want to be in six months and out five years — should I still be on planet Earth.

To build a program to keep me on track, I needed to address four elements:

  1. Define practice areas
  2. Create a framework
  3. Follow specific exercises
  4. Feedback and refine as needed

Define Practice Areas

Based on my six-month objectives, this was pretty straightforward. Here are my practice areas:

  1. Standards (repertoire)
  2. Improvisation
  3. Comping
  4. Chord Melody
  5. Phrasing

Create A Framework

How will I spend my practice time? Not on duration but as a percentage of the time?

  1. Warm-up — 5 percent
  2. Repertoire — 50 percent
  3. Comping — 20 percent
  4. Chord Melody — 15 percent
  5. Phrasing — 10 percent

Follow Specific Exercises

In my case, I have an online teacher even if most of what I am doing is self-directed. The courses are very specific and well designed. I can readily measure my progress with this online course.

Feedback and Refine As Needed

Don’t rush. Keep each session focused. Don’t take on too much at once.

In other words, be patient. Build the skill on an incremental basis. Small changes performed consistently will yield impressive results over time.

I might revisit my framework and adjust the percentages here and there. I may not need to spend as much time on comping over the next few months as I already have a pretty rich chord vocabulary on the guitar. I might need to spend more time on chord melodies and phrasing as they are both areas of development for me.

Every two weeks, I will give myself an evaluation and see where adjustments need to be made.

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