Welcome back! Today I talk about how to build a jazz guitar practice routine that actually works
and helps you improve your knowledge and playing.
One of the things I would do when I was just starting to get into jazz was to work on my chord
knowledge; jazz chords can be very tricky to play. Jazz players usually prefer to play inversions
of a chord and they love adding tensions. Triads and barre chords are boring to them, nothing
but basic chords.
A great way of practicing is to actually play jazz tunes, and what better place to find them but
the Real Book. The Real Book contains almost every popular jazz tune composed in the great
era. I remember just grabbing the book and picking any tune from the hundreds it comes with
and just improvising; Jazz is such a complex world that you can practice it so many different
ways. One thing I use to do that helped a lot was to limit my choice of chords. What does this
mean? Well it’s basically restricting my playing in order to improve my knowledge. For example
let’s choose a tune, “Blue Bossa”, which is a famous song and very easy to play. The
progression goes like this:
That’s just the first part of the song but for now it’ll work. So in a normal situation you could just
play all the chords in root position like this:
This works perfectly fine, but if you are trying to play jazz, you will definitely wanna spice it up a
little bit. One thing that works really well is to maybe limit the chords to the same strings and as
close as possible to each other. So for instance, the Fm7 and the G7 would now be played in
2nd inversion, because it is closer to Cm7:
Another thing that works really well is to limit the chords to a specific inversion. So for example
you could only play 2nd inversions, like this:
This works really well if you are trying to practice your chord knowledge all across the fretboard.
You could play only 1st inversions or only 3rd inversions. You could also play only 2nd
inversions and using nothing but the top 4 strings.
Limiting your playing will actually help you improve!
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