Neil Proff, my sax instructor, handed me an excerpt chapter from the “The Art of Small Combo Jazz Playing, Composing & Arranging” by Horace Silver. I has spurred me on to purchase the book which I have only be able to find in USED markets. From the book:
What should the aspiring jazz player practice: In my opinion, when practicing each day, time should be devoted to standard practice procedures such as reading, tone, breathing (long tones), scales, harmony, and finger exercises (technique). Time should also be devoted each day to acquiring a greater harmonic knowledge and a greater improvisational ability. Learn as many songs as you can. Learn the correct melody, harmony, and rhythm to these songs. Practice improvising on the chord changes to these songs. Tape yourself while improvising these songs and play back the tape to find where you’re making mistakes.
Nothing here should be new to even the most casual music performer. And now we record, vice “tape” ourselves. Another thing that Horace encourages a musician to do is jam whenever you can. Go to sessions to sit in and improvise. If you can’t find a place to do this start your own sessions as there are other musicians like us who will want to do this.
A new band I worked very hard to set up is struggling now. After two years of working with the board of a community band I was, with the help of the president and the Jazz Director, able to convince the band to split one overly large Jazz Ensemble into two bands. At one time we had 15 saxophones in the original band. But building the new band has been difficult as I look for at least one soloist per section, leaders to own the sections, music that the new band can play so that we can get our first gig. This has taken more time than I care to admit.
I’m approaching week two of my study hard enough to impress Neil when he gets back from his summer masters program and yesterday I only picked up the clarinet, futzed with mouthpieces, reeds, and barrels. So I lost a day and another chance to get better on sax, my primary instrument. A friend of mine, JB is working scales and the last I heard he’d practiced at least an hour a day since Neil left! He is an inspiration to me. Today Suzy and I will do at least an hour as we prepare for a gig next weekend.