Practice session: permutations and more Gershwin studies

Scale studies

  • All Lydian scales
  • All Ionian scales
  • Scale dissection: Ab Lydian over Ab∆7 moving arpeggios in groups of two
  • Scale dissection: F# Dorian over F#m7 moving arpeggios in groups of three
  • Scale dissection #2: F# Dorian in groups of three over F#m7 regrouped arpeggios
  • Scale dissection #3: F# Dorian in groups of three over all F#m7 inversions in 1-3-5-7 permutations (several slow passes, but couldn’t really play it fluently)

Left hand

  • Gershwin reversed stride bass (#14 from Jazz Piano: The Left Hand)
    • Original chord progression (dominant descent over the cycle of 4ths from F#, in fact 🤓)
    • Minor variation
      • Only reversed stride in 3-7 → R | 7-10 → R pattern
      • Reversed stride + broken 10ths + block triads up the octave (sounds super dope 🔥)
  • Descending 10ths in a free jam: focus on 10-5 movement


  • Major blues scale around the cycle (quick recap)

Session timing: 2h 30m


Variations are great! It definitely is much more inspiring an empowering than simply learning the piece from sheet music and finally reading it without any errors. Understanding the logic behind the particular composition and the techniques that are used in it — and then being able to freely play your variation of it in which one can still recognise the original — this is extremely satisfying.

Piano practice (1h 45m)

Scale studies

  • All Lydian scales
  • All Ionian scales
  • C, F, Bb Lydian in grand form
  • All Lydian scales over moving Lydian DNA
  • Dissecting Phrygian scales over arpeggiated inversions (E, A, D, G) — sheet music link coming soon

Jazz voicings + left hand

  • iim9 — V13 — I∆9 | iiø — V7b9 — im9 (format 2) from Jazz Piano Voicings (C thru F#). Left hand:
    • Blocks
    • 10ths + octave blocks + b7-1-5 run on iiø


  • Minor blues scale — quick recap in all keys

Piano day (2h)

Left hand + shells

  • Descending major 10ths workout (10-5-1 + 6-7)
    • Only LH
    • With RH: 7-3-5 shells
    • With RH: alternating shells of same chord (7-3-5 to 3-6-9 or 3-7-9) — octave jump
    • With RH: connecting descending shells (cycling 7-3-5 to 3-7-9)

Left hand + modal studies

  • Lydian DNA (Imaj7 — II7) in all keys
    • Blocks
    • LH: 1-5-10-6’-7’ | 1-1’, RH: 7-3-5 shell | 1 octave scale run

Left hand + scale studies

  • Major blues scale recap (LH: broken 10ths, harmonic 5ths and 6ths)

Reading + analysis

  • Fascinating Rhythm by George Gershwin  (first 4 bars, then quick improv over LH pattern) — Exercise #14 from Jazz Piano: The Left Hand book

I haven’t been practicing too much bass during the last months, as I’m trying to focus in on left hand on piano, but recently I picked it up late at night and simply did some walking over a jazz standard. Then some inversions. Some permutations. Some arpeggios. All that stuff that I though I’ve had enough of. One big takeaway from that? Wanna get excited about seemingly boring material like scales, arpeggios and reading on your instrument? Simply practice another one for a month or so (completely ignoring the first one), and I swear you’ll start CRAVING it! 😂

Bass day (1h 30m)

  • Scales studies
    • Linking shapes (Scott exercise)
      • All Aeolian scales in V position
      • All Ionian scales in I position (recap)
    • Minor blues scale permutations
    • Scale dissection
      • Minor blues: R, b7 (above & below), b3, 4
      • Major blues: R, 2, 6 (above & below), 5
      • Lydian pentatonic: R, #4
    • Applying scale tones over I — VI7 — ii — V7 in all keys
  • Reading melodies
    • Afro Blue (from Real Book in bass clef)
    • Hrabe etude #4 (in Bb)


New exercise! I try to test different approaches to scale fluency, and this time I decided to take the scales that I’m currently actively working on on piano and focus on particular degrees, playing them above as well as below the root. In my opinion, it should really help to achieve fluency in any given scale regardless of the position on the fretboard where you happen to be when you need to apply it. It is especially cool with pentatonics, because their nature kind of encourages you to use pattens and it’s very easy to get caught in the box shapes slavery. I’m using Phil Mann’s permutation approach to twist the scale like a want and also Todd Johnson’s “above / below” trick. Also trying to sync my bass and piano routines to make practice overall more productive. How am I doing, Mr. Devine? Am I organised enough? :lol:

Piano day (2h)

  • Improv / scales study
    • Locrian 2-octave scales in all keys with two hands
    • Locrian improv is all keys (over m7b5 around the cycle in iReal)
    • Aeolian scales in all keys
    • Aeolian improv (same approach)
    • Minor blues: quick recap in C thru Eb
  • Voicings + modal
    • Cycling Mixolydian ii — v over I7 in all keys
    • Cycling Mixolydian IVmaj7 — v over I7 in all keys
  • Left hand
    • Intervallic patterns
      • Cycling broken tenths (1-5-10) in m & M
      • Cycling 1-5-10 + 5-6 in m & M