Piano day (1h 45m)

Scale studies

Left hand + jazz voicings

  • iim9 — V13 — I∆9 | iiø — V7b9 — im9 (format 2) — skill 45 from Jazz Piano Voicings by Dan Haerle (C thru F#). Left hand:
    • 1-5 shells
    • 1-5-6 runs
    • Broken 10ths (ascending on major part, descending on parallel minor)
    • 1-5-10 + blocks octave above
  • 10ths w/o clashes going up and down, focusing on with 2-octave leaps at range switches (e. g. Gb — B 8vb)

Piano day (1h 40m)

Left hand + extensions

Modal studies

  • All Mixo scales

Voicings + left hand

  • Major & parallel minor ii7 — V9 — I∆7 — IV∆9 | iiø — V7b9 — im7
    • Only ascending broken 10ths + arpeggio octave above
    • Ascending & descending broken 10ths
    • Only descending broken 10ths
  • Focus on descending broken 10ths around the cycle

Melodic exercises

  • Diatonic Mixo 10th-based pattern

Practicing extensions & inversions without boring yourself to death

Today I wanted to share another approach to practicing such seemingly technical and tiresome stuff as chord inversions and extended intervals. I keep trying to make all my routine musical and as close to real life situation as I can. It may be useful to spend 5 hours throwing all inversions of all 7th chords in all keys in all modes around the circle of 5ths, but sometimes you just want your exercises to be a bit more musical. You know what I mean? So I did that.

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This is, in fact, a combination workout. Left hand plays all the inversions of a block chord, right hand plays diatonic interval or extension of choice (in this case major 7th) in two octaves. I’m still going around the good ol’ cycle of 4ths, but it sounds already like a piece and has much less of that endless ii — V — I feeling in it.

The beauty of it is that the moment you start getting bored, you can pick a different interval, just like that:

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…and Bob’s your uncle — now you’ve got completely different flavour as 9ths blend with inversions in the left hand.

But the cycle of 4ths motion is still there, so it’s just a question of time before you will have had enough of it, right? 😄 That’s where modal progressions come in! And don’t forget that you can also alternate intervals in the right hand. Here I took C Dorian progression that sounded particularly nice to me: i — bIII — v — ii and applied the same technique while playing it. It sounds definitely like a piece, and in no way like a dull exercise.

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Obviously, then there’s Real Book and all the good stuff. You got it—

Making chord voicing practice more musical

I use jazz voicings a lot in my routine. Dan Haerle’ s book Jazz Piano Voicings was the huge one for me — discovering chord shells opened the whole new world for me, and I’m still digging through it almost every session. But at some point you may find that simply taking a pair of voicings around the cycle of 4ths (or circle of 5ths) could be a bit boring and, well, its musicality wears out as you get used to the sound of these chords.

I try to keep my exercises musical (following Rick Beato’s advice), so I always combine Mr. Haerle’s skills with different left hand patterns. Currently I’m practicing broken 10ths and other extensions, so I use them as an accompaniment as I go around the circle, and sometimes throw in some block chords (in order to not to get lost in intervals). It embellishes the overall sound and allows me to work on both hands’ technique at the same time. Smarty pants, huh? Here’s what I mean.

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The X-Files left hand workout

One more 10th-based routine for the left hand fluency that is not going to bore you to death as you take it around the cycle of fourths. Works the best in minor keys, it’s a combination of broken 1-5-10’s with minor 6ths and minor 7ths. No wonder it sounds a little bit disturbing. But in a pleasant way. I mean, controllably disturbing. Wait, what? Just share the sheet music, dude—

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Piano day (1h 40m)

Modal studies

  • Lydian DNA in 7th arpeggios
    • LH only
    • LH + alternating shells in RH (gave up pretty quickly, need to approach it slowly)
  • Harmonising Lydian scale in chord pairs around the cycle in growing gaps (Imaj7 — II7, Imaj7 — iii, Imaj7 — #IV, etc. — e. g. C — D, F — A-, Bb — Eø, etc.) — extra cool exercise!

Arpeggios + combined LH & RH melodic studies

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This badass workout achieves three goals:

  • Improve LH technique by drilling the 2-octave arpeggios along with harmonic intervals
  • Think in chord tones and improve key fluency
  • Enjoy the non-boring exercise that actually sounds nice even though you’re still just playing a diatonic pattern around the cycle of goddam fourths

Improv

  • Major blues scale improv in all keys (recap)
    • LH: harmonic 5ths & 6ths
    • Broken 10ths + blocks

Just for the hell of it

  • All Lydian scales (similar & contrary motion)