For Jazz Musicians That Aren't Sure How To Practice
9 Things Every Jazz Musician Should Know About Practicing But Probably Doesn’t
How To Get Better Faster By Making A Few
Simple Changes To Your Practice Routine
Chris Cooke here.
Now, I started playing jazz a little over 21 years ago. And it’s been a long and wild ride every since.
I’ve gotten to play with some truly world class players. I’ve gotten to study with some of the best teachers on the planet. I’ve gotten my butt kicked by jazz. And I’ve learned some hard lessons the hard way.
But, over the past 20 plus years I’ve figured out a thing or two about playing, practicing and learning jazz. Some of the big lessons I’ve picked up along the way have literally transformed my life and my music. The big lessons we'll be talking about today have worked extremely well for me. And for my many students. And they’ve worked really well for my friends, peers and my teachers. And that’s why I know they'll work for you too.
The thing is, I know what it’s like to be stuck with your playing. Not seeing or hearing any real progress. Continuously struggling to play real jazz. Always getting my butt kicked at jam sessions.
I know what it’s like to be so uncertain about your musical future you can feel it in your gut. I know what it’s like to be frustrated and disappointed with the results you get in the practice room each day.
I tried everything I could to turn my playing around.
- I tried to ‘play what I hear’ but I didn’t really understand what that meant, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing and nothing good ever seemed to come out of my instrument.
- Improvising was unnatural for me. It just didn’t flow. I tried to practice so my hands would be able to play anything that came to ear. But nothing ever came!
- My playing often sounded boring. I felt like I was just playing patterns and my solos never seemed to go anywhere.
- Practicing was always stressful for me. It was overwhelming and I often felt like the more I practiced the less progress I made with my playing.
- I could never seem to get better fast enough. I wanted to be better than I was so bad, but just couldn’t make any real headway.
- Sometimes I would feel like something was finally coming together for me. Then I’d hear a recording of myself and think, Man! This Stinks!
- The mountain of stuff to practice was overwhelming. So much to do, so little time. I practiced so many different things and yet I still got my ass kicked at jam sessions.
I struggled on like this for years. Frickin’ years!
Then something happen that changed everything.
I finally made it into one of Hal Crook’s (Best Jazz Teacher In The World IMHO) ensembles at The Berklee College of Music. I had arrived!
I did everything I was told. Practiced my butt off. Logged 1,000’s of hours in the shed.
And now I was a member of one of Berklee’s most elite ensembles.
I got booted out of the ensemble of my dreams by Mr. Hal Crook himself. It was a soul crushing moment:(
Hal told me to go play with other musicians (i.e. play a session) everyday for a year. He said I needed to be a better listener, not a better instrumentalist. “Do that and then call me in a year.”
This was the first of many hard won lessons. This was a major 'ah ha' moment for me.
This was the first time someone explicitly told me to do something other than practice - to go play.
This is where I learned The Second Law of Musical Success: Jazz is an art form you learn by doing.
You could spend your entire lifetime in the practice room. Hell, you could spend 3 lifetimes in the sheds and you would never become a real jazzer until you got out there and played some damn music.
This revelation put me on track to transform my whole musical life. And if I’d never stumbled upon Mr. Hal Crook I might not have ever learned it! (I called him in a year like he said. And I got back in to his ensemble. Victory:-)
I’m thankful for Hal.
Now, ‘learn by doing’ is 1 of 9 laws of musical success that I focus on these days.
If #2 is ‘Learn by doing’. #3 is ‘You Need Vocabulary To Do It’. Got that one from the Great Hal Galper. Guess I really like cats named Hal!
Like I said there are 9 laws. And they make up what I call The Big Jazz Puzzle.
When applied they can radically transform a cat’s playing. And quickly too. Especially if all or at least most of them are put to work.
Most teachers never touch on this stuff. It’s frickin’ infuriating.
Because without these principles in place cats will struggle. Some of them are simply necessary. Without # 1 for instance a cat will simply never play jazz well. Never. (#1 is Called ‘The Art of Hearing’.)
But when a cat gets serious and puts these principles and laws to work in the shed magic can happen. Alright, not exactly magic. There’s still effort needed. There’s still a learning curve with jazz.
But things can dramatically change when a cat puts the laws in place. And the truth is you don’t even need to use all 9. Not all at once, right away anyhow.
But as you begin to change your practice
some very hip things happen to you:
- You’ll start to be able to play what you hear, you’ll understand what that actually means and you’ll never run out of ideas that come pouring out of your musical imagination.
- Improvising will be natural for you. Over time, things will just flow. You won’t have to work so hard trying to get your hands to play the music. Your ears and musical intuition will just make it happen.
- Your musical vocabulary will grow and you’re playing will become more exciting to listen to. You’ll finally get away from noodling and playing the same old patterns and you’ll start to develop ‘your thing’.
- Practicing will actually become a fun and rewarding activity. The overwhelm will melt away and you’ll literally watch yourself get better over time.
- You’ll be able to learn and acquire musical skills at a faster rate. This process does take time. You’ll still need to practice and play jazz. But continuous progress is a fun thing to experience!
- You’ll be able to streamline your practice so you focus on the truly important things instead of the many time-wasters that most cats get caught up in. You’ll actually be able to get better faster than you are now, with less time practicing..
- You’ll be able to solve those old musical problems. No more getting lost on tunes. No more running out of steam in your solos. No more running out of ideas to play.
You see, when you have these 9 key principles dialed in you get better faster and you become empowered to learn anything you put your mind (and ears) to work on.
Now, at LearnJazzFaster we currently have 3 teachers.
There’s Joel Yennior creator of The Real Jazz Method, Playing the Changes, and The Jazz Ear Training Workshop. He plays bone.
There’s Andy Voelker my co-creator on Getting Past Practice and Making the Leap. He plays saxophones.
And of course myself. I’m the founder of LearnJazzFaster and the creator of most of the other titles. (Including The Big Jazz Puzzle)
The reason I’m telling you this is that most cats want to hear a cat play before they start following his teaching advice. You know, to make sure he can play.
Well, here’s a couple tracks that feature all three of us. They also feature the great Jef Charland on bass.
Under Construction - By Andy Voelker
Black Friday - Joel Yennior
Chris is certainly the best jazz music teacher I've ever had, but he's more than that: he's one of the best teachers I've ever had--in any subject. He has a special talent for taking complex topics and breaking them down into the simplest possible parts. Chris' lessons have been a huge help for me.Ken Hiatt—Accordionist, Band Leader, Teacher, Waltham, MA
I've never come across a person who could explain what, and how to practice as well as Chris can. When I first saw Chris play at a jam here in Boston, I thought, that's the guy I want to take lessons with. Luckily for me, he's as good a teacher as he is a player. I would recommend Chris to anyone looking to take their understanding of music to a deeper level, I don't know anyone who will give you a more honest, and passionate education.Mike Tucker—Drummer and Band Leader, Boston, MA
You have a direct and genuine approach to the development and sharing of knowledge which makes the medicine go down with great ease. It is satisfying to have a kind of jazz-practice guardian-angel!Liam Fionescu—Multi Instrumentalist, Including Clarinet, Guitar and Others, London, England
Chris, You seem to always nail this thing down! Congrats to another great video that keeps us thinking different.Henry Krupp—Saxophonist, South Korea
I also try to promote the art of playing music by ears as well on my website youcantrustyourears.com, but my focus is more on the aspiring or amateur musician to lay out a plan on how to accomplish this goal.
However, your method is highly recommended for the “serious” student.”
The Monster Jazz Formula materials are in a class by themselves. Any musician would be miles ahead having these courses in their "repertoire".Darryl Ruff, Kelowna BC Canada
Your knowledge is great, but on the top of that, it is the way you present that makes it unique. You do not make any tricks or give away half-hearted information and I have learned a lot from your materials. It is great that you cover up the mental topics as well, not just technical stuff. We are lucky to be able to wade through your methods!Bruno T., Slovakia
If you're serious about learning jazz I highly recommend you check out what Chris has to offer.Braun Khan—Church Music Director, Private Instructor, Bassist, Greeley, CO
The Big Jazz Puzzle: 9 Irrefutable Laws Of Musical Success
Here’s what you get.
18 Video lessons covering The Big Jazz Puzzle and the 9 laws – What they are, why they’re important and how to use them.
A Detailed Mind Map Of Each Law.
You'll also be getting audio tracks from the videos. So you can listen to the audios in your car, on the bus, etc. So again:
18 Videos, 18 Audio Tracks, 9 Mind Maps
Here's a Breakdown of The Big Jazz Puzzle
Irrefutable Law #1:
The Art of Hearing
- The secret behind playing what you hear.
- What your musical memory is, why it’s so important and how to feed it so you never run out of ideas again. (And so you really start to develop ‘your own thing’)
- One shift you can make in your practicing immediately that will have a dramatic impact on your playing. (Small hinges swing big doors…)
- How to use special types of listening to become a better listener, get better faster and unleash your musical creativity.
- The step by step paradigm you can use to assimilate vocabulary and make it your own (“Imitate, Assimilate, Innovate” ~ Clark Terry)
Irrefutable Law #2:
Learn By Doing
- One simple habit you can easily start using today that will make improvisation natural for you no matter what level you’re at.
- How to organize and succeed with practice groups, partners and sessions so you can ‘learn by doing’, get the (mandatory) experience you need and have fun doing it!
- How to maximize your practice groups and activities (Simple steps to accelerate your musical progress)
- Introduction to ‘R & C’. This will make you a great listener, explode your awareness and change your playing in incredible ways. (One of those things you just have to experience)
- 5 Easy ways to start improvising now no matter where you are with your playing and what you’re working on.
Irrefutable Law #3:
You Need Vocabulary To Do It
- The expanded learning paradigm you can use to absorb vocabulary and make it a functional part of your playing.
- The ’10 phrase solution’ you can use to become fluent with jazz faster than you might think and so you can ‘hang’ on most any standard or situation.
- The smart way to learn jazz that will make becoming a solid jazzer a reasonable and manageable process (So you can become a solid cat much more quickly than you might think possible)
- How to stop struggling with the same old things and start filling in the holes in your playing.
- How to become a more confident player by targeting specific musical situations that you are most likely to encounter at a session or gig.
Irrefutable Law #4:
It All Comes From The Tradition
- Where creativity comes from and how to start developing your own voice.
- What music you should start with and focus on (This will make practicing WAY more fun and productive)
- How to use ‘The Paradigm’ to steep yourself in the tradition and add any element to ‘your sound’ that you choose.
- How to effectively make yourself more creative so you have more musical ideas than you know what to do with (This works for anything – tunes, endings, arranging, writing, improvising)
- A simple practice idea I got from Hal Crook that will ‘blow open the doors’ to the whole jazz tradition so you become a real jazzer, truly steeped in this great tradition.
Irrefutable Law #5:
- How to shred through anything you’re practicing or learning by using the concept of D.P.
- How to choose topics and targets that are designed to create skill and make you a better player (Day after day after day…you getting better and better and better)
- The two big steps of D.P. that will make your practice sessions infinitely more productive (i.e. you get better faster)
- Using the step by step practice paradigm to slash through musical targets so you can hit your musical goals and keep moving forward towards playing the way you really want.
- 2 Key elements of D.P. that will give you forward momentum and keep you excited about your music.
Irrefutable Law #6:
The Edge Of Your Ability
- Discover how and where learning actually happens. (Remember: Jazzers are self-learners and they are always learning and improving.)
- The ‘Hal Crook Rule of Thumb’ for choosing practice topics and exercises so you choose things that will actually make you better (This’ll make practicing less frustrating too)
- Discover the 3 zones of practice. Hint: 2 of them will lead to frustration and stagnation. 1 of them leads to a high level of musical skill.
- Learn how the ‘comfort zone’ is killing your musical progress.
- How to stay out of the ‘panic zone’ so you can find the ‘sweet spot’ and just keep on getting better day in and day out.
Irrefutable Law #7:
The Power of Musical Awareness
- Discover why musical awareness is necessary to play jazz at a high-level and how you can increase yours
- The simple attitude adjustment that can lead to an immediate increase in musical awareness (And the potential for exponential growth down the road)
- Discover the R & C paradigm you can use radically expand your awareness and your listening skills so you can get better faster.
- Discover 3 tools you can use to expand musical awareness, learn faster and ultimately become an M.F.
- Discover how to combine R & C with musical meditation to dramatically expand your musical awareness.
Irrefutable Law #8:
The Law of The Vital Few
- Discover how a small percentage of your practice activities causes the vast majority of your progress as a player (This principle is a game changer. Focus on the ‘vital few’ and you will improve faster than you can imagine.)
- Use the law of the vital few to get better faster (much faster) while practicing less.
- Discover how the law of the vital few can help you become a competent, fluent jazzer in less time than you think possible.
- Discover how to separate the important practice activities (The Vital Few) from the stuff that’s wasting your time (And slowing your progress down)
- Find out how one of the laws of success is actually an application of The Law of the Vital Few. (Focus more attention on this law and everything changes. In fact it’s a force multiplier)
Irrefutable Law #9:
The Great Balancing Act
- Learn how to find balance on the micro level (Your solos) and the macro level (your process and your life) so you can continue to improve as quickly as possible (and become a badass!)
- Discover how finding balance can help you avoid burning out (all too common) while actually helping you get better faster.
- The concept of polar opposites that you can use to design ultra-effective jazz improvisation exercises that will increase your depth and your interest as a soloist.
- Discover where to put your attention so you can get your process dialed in and so you progress becomes a self-perpetuating process for you.
- Find out hour to avoid the big pitfall of balance and how balance is not necessarily what you think (The impact of this on your solo construction is huge)
The Question You're Wondering...
Ok. So, there are probably some cats wondering at this point, how much is this gonna cost.
Well, it’s a very substantial course – over 3 hours of video. And these are really the biggest and hardest-won lessons of my entire life, basically.
You’re getting The Big Jazz Puzzle: 9 Irrefutable Laws of Musical Success.
All 18 Videos, 3:20 worth of content
A Mind map of each lesson.
And you’re getting the audio tracks so you can listen to the listens on your phone, iPod, mp3 player etc.
I can’t even begin to put a price on how much this cost me to discover, figure and/or stumble upon all of the 9 laws. Between all the private lessons, clinics, instructional DVD’s, books and classes. Not to mention fricking Berklee College of music.
But the most expensive part was the thousands of trial and error, blood sweat and tear filled hours spent in the practice rooms, at jam sessions and on the gig to learn these lessons.
The potential to turn your music around and dramatically transform your playing is huge.
And like all of our courses, The Big jazz Puzzle is covered by our 30 day, no B.S. No Questions Asked Guarantee.
You take 30 days, go through the material at your own pace and put it to work on YOUR music. If after putting a few of the 9 laws to work in the shed you don’t feel like you’ve put your playing on a new path – a better, faster path – just send me an email and I’ll refund your payment. No questions. No hard feelings.
Using Chris’ course, I’ve made more progress in the last couple months than at any other time. I’ve also gained confidence in playing which feels great…thanks Chris!Troy H., B.C. Canada
I’ve made the transition from classical to jazz keyboard largely due to your monster formula as it help me set useful goals after many months of wandering in a fragmented way and getting nowhere. That was about 1 1/2 years ago.Ginny Simonds, Pianist
Thank you SO much for taking the time to share your knowledge.
Man, what can I tell you…I’ve been working with The Monster Jazz Formula for only 10 days now, but it changed the way I practice. I’m much more focused……2 weeks ago I bumped into one of your clips on the Internet. I actually believe that the whole thing was created for me:)Guy Shkolnik, Israel, Pianist
Hi Chris! I own the monster jazz formula since 2009, and it really changed my life!Themis Nikoloudis, Violinist, Athens, Greece
Unfortunately, the modern life style is killing the wings of mind and free spirit, and people are not aware or do not believe what a human mind can do..Thank you for setting up my mind not only for musical, but life development also! True words of wisdom from a modern philosopher!
As a teacher I see myself improving and also passing the knowledge in a more effective way!!!Javier Vargas, Jazz Studies teacher at the National Conservatory in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Thank you for sharing jazz monster formula!!!!
The Monster Jazz Formula was nothing else than a fresh re-beginning of everything I learned since ever: My Music (and so my practicing) began to live and improved 10,000-Times!!!...thank you very much Chris now, practicing and performing is grand joy every day!!!...”Stefan, Zürich, Switzerland
I’ve been a fan of Hal Crook’s books and method. Chris’ videos are the next step to reinforce how to practice improvisation that compliment these books. ….a great addition to a jazzer’s library of learning …but more practical than most books that try to help you to play jazz..John Kozinski, Becket, MA
The Big Jazz Puzzle: 9 Irrefutable Laws of Musical Success.
If you’re ready to start playing what you hear, feeding your creativity and never run out of ideas to play…
If you’re ready to for improvisation to become natural and normal for you…
If you’re ready to learn and acquire musical skills at a faster rate and progress with jazz faster than you might think possible…
Then now’s the time to put together The Big Jazz Puzzle. And put those laws of musical success to work on your music.
All 18 Videos, 3:20 worth of content. All 18 audio tracks. All 9 mind maps. All 9 Quick-Start cheat sheets.
Yours Today for just $97
And of course the course is covered by our no B.S., no hassle guarantee.
30 Days to check it out. If you don’t like it (For any reason) you get all your money back.
So go ahead and get started today.
Alrighty, that’s all I got.
I appreciate you taking the time to check this out.
I'll see you on the inside...
P.S. These lessons are SO important for jazzers like yourself. And it just makes sense to get these big lessons under your belt the easy way.
Rather than struggling like a Mo’ Fo for 21+ years like yours truly.
There’s no risk to try it for 30 days. Click below to get started today.