Monday, May 7, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Be about action not distraction. May 2012

~ May 7- 2012. Great time of the year on the East Coast. The last day of teaching, via my semester in the New School University, Jazz Dept, NYC. I'm walking through the Village, and enjoying that another good year of education in jazz has passed and is going very well. The students are getting the idea and I feel good as well. My Reading, Pa students are being accepted to some major University's as well for the following year. Rutgers, William Patterson, Berklee, Oberlin and New England Conservatory. One of my bassoon students is even been accepted to a very important school in London for a five year program.It's a good time, work has been hard and everyone has been on the mark. Practicing and doing their job as a student of the music. Yearas ago, Sal Nistico told me- " When you practice, work".That really opened my mind at age 18. Big time.
Sal Nistico- was a major influence on me. Sal ...was one of the most articulate tenor players that ever played. There is a Cd on Red records from Italy..where he plays " Inner Urge" so might be the best version of the tune ever. Sal lived in Europe the last years of his life. Sal when he lives in NYC lived in Reno Park. Mostly he traveled to L.A..Europe and those spots for gigs. When he DID move to Europe for good finally he worked more than ever till his untimely death from a brain tumor. Sal was a friend.I studied with him on and off,from 1970 till the last time I ever saw him in 1982, he NEVER wrote anything down either.He said-if you want to learn it YOU WILL remember it. When I first met him he was playing a Menza mouthpiece on his Conn 10M with # 4Oliveri reeds. That was 1970 in Boston when he lived in our apt building for a few months. I'LL NEVER forget when Emilio overhauled Sals 10M, Sal just spilled out the hippest lines ya ever heard and rolled that 10m on like a king of the tenor. Years later around the time..he lived in NY. He had switched to a balanced action Selmer and metal link.Then I 'm sure LaVoz were something he was using. Like Med Hards. Sal was a fan of Frank Wells. I know if he was using Links during his Woody period Wells worked on them. Probally his Bergs to.Pepper Adams told me once , that Sal read the Thad and Mel band book AT SIGHT on his first gig. THAT must of been something !I know Sal was one of the hardest workers I ever met. There is a record-Called " Neo Nistico" on Beehive records. My transcription of - 'Fe Fi Fo Fum' by Shorter is in my " Great Tenor solos book". To me THAT solo shows Sals growth from a big band asskicker player to where he was wanting to be as a player. Sal told a great story about Trane. They were buds- but the first time Sal met Trane was on a subway. Trane came over to Sal , and told him he loved how great he played. Sal told me ya could always know if Trane was home cuz you'd hear his sound all over the block when he practiced. I have a huge poster of Sal in front of my music stand in my studio.That guy changed my life !
The first step in practicing something is to understand what areas of the piece or scale are less familiar to us, what we used to think were the hard parts. The next step is to spend time visiting and revisiting those areas until our fingers, ears and breathing become comfortable and familiar with them. Sound too simplistic? Maybe it is, but it is true. It may take weeks or months or sometimes years for our bodies to allow these actions to occur without conscious thought. One of the most important steps in this process of learning is to not look at a printed page of music. Play things without looking at the music You might say, I can't memorize things so easily. Well this is NOT memorization. This is learning something very deeply. Play a small portion of a phrase over and over. But while playing it, use your EAR and LISTEN to the music you're playing. Then try to sing the phrase away from the instrument. Try to play the phrase starting on different notes. If this seems overwhelming take another approach. Sing the first few bars of the song Happy Birthday. Now play the song on your instrument starting on any note. Now once you figure it out and it feel comfortable, play it starting on other notes. When this feels comfortable playing the tune on all twelve notes you can feel confident you know that tune.
Only work with very small segments of music and don't move on to other areas until that one area is thoroughly learned. When we ingrain the techniques of playing an instrument and understanding the rudiments of music so thoroughly we remove the need for conscious thought to help us execute the music. ( This is the start of the Alpha State. ) At this point one's unique voice can be expressed through the music. Master means to learn something so thoroughly that one always executes it correctly - This type of practicing can seem to take a long time. Your the time spent internalizing something is shorter than one thinks. Try to remember the times when you practiced a piece over and over and there were a few passages that were always difficult which never felt quite right. You perform the piece and kind of get through those passages and say , glad that's over. But a month later you have to play the piece again for a gig or and those same passages are no easier.
If one took the time to properly internalize that music it would not only always be with you but any of the problems that were conquered while spending time with the piece would carry over to other pieces that have similar challenges. The more material which is learned in this thorough manner, the easier music in general starts to become. When enough stuff is gained, most music played will be done with little or no conscious thought, thus allowing one's voice to happen. This will happen because there will not be any technical hurdles to conquer in the music or on the instrument. When practicing, don't try to conquer an entire work at once. Live with a small passage until it becomes easy. If a mistake is made, then go back and spend more time working the passage slowly until you don't have to think about what you are doing. Have patience,listen to what you play-find the problem areas and fix them via slow repetition. Also enjoy the process of practicing and the sounds you produce. Jazz is food for the soul and this includes music made while practicing.
Check this video; Tim Price Jazz- Jazz Repertoire
The following tunes are among those most commonly played by jazz musicians. I have made an attempt to categorize them based on how they are usually played. Most of the compositions are by jazz musicians, except for the ones marked "standard". You should try to become familiar with as many of these tunes as possible. Most of them can be found in the Real Book or in Chuck Sher's books. All Blues blues, modal All Of Me standard All The Things You Are standard Anthropology rhythm changes, swing Au Privave blues, swing Autumn Leaves standard Beautiful Love standard Beauty And The Beast rock Billie's Bounce blues, swing Black Orpheus Latin Blue Bossa Latin Blue In Green ballad, modal Blue Monk blues, swing Blue Train blues, swing Blues For Alice blues, swing Bluesette 3/4, swing Body And Soul ballad, standard C Jam Blues blues, swing Caravan Latin, swing Ceora Latin Cherokee swing Confirmation swing Darn That Dream ballad, standard Desafinado Latin Dolphin Dance modal, non-tonal A Foggy Day standard Footprints 3/4, blues, modal Freddie Freeloader blues, modal Freedom Jazz Dance non-tonal Four swing Giant Steps swing The Girl From Ipanema Latin Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat ballad, swing Have You Met Miss Jones standard I Mean You swing I Remember Clifford ballad, swing I Thought About You standard If I Were A Bell standard Impressions modal In A Sentimental Mood ballad, swing In Walked Bud swing Just Friends standard Killer Joe swing Lady Bird swing Lullaby Of Birdland swing Mr. P.C. blues, swing Maiden Voyage modal Misty ballad, standard Moment's Notice swing My Favorite Things 3/4, modal, standard My Funny Valentine ballad, standard My Romance standard Naima ballad, modal A Night In Tunisia Latin, swing Nica's Dream Latin, swing Nostalgia In Times Square swing Now's The Time blues, swing Oleo rhythm changes, swing On Green Dolphin Street Latin, swing, standard Ornithology swing Recorda Me Latin Red Clay rock Round Midnight ballad, swing St. Thomas Latin Satin Doll swing Scrapple From The Apple swing The Sidewinder blues, swing So What modal Solar swing Some Day My Prince Will Come 3/4, standard Song For My Father Latin Speak No Evil modal, non-tonal Stella By Starlight standard Stolen Moments blues, modal Straight, No Chaser blues, swing Sugar swing Summertime standard Take The "A" Train swing There Is No Greater Love standard There Will Never be Another You standard Up Jumped Spring 3/4, swing Waltz For Debby 3/4, swing Wave Latin Well, You Needn't swing When I Fall In Love ballad, standard Yardbird Suite swing
The process of internalizing music is a matter of slow repetition of very small segments of a piece of music or a technique of playing the instrument. This repetition ingrains what is being learned deeply in our subconscious. The goal is to work on something until it seems to play itself. Once a musician has a repertoire, they can go out and play with many others.At least this is how it has worked for me,and many others through the decades. Being a complete musician goes well beyond the notes. Think about it- it's THAT easy !
Be thankful for another day on the planet.Music and life are a gift! Put positive energy out there, and be glad you have the ability to play music and enjoy your life.
Till next week- strive for tone-and do something good for someone else-Cheers- Tim Price

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