A number of years ago, I was frustrated with my playing over static major and minor grooves. It seemed like I always ran out of ideas and the ideas I had were stale and unoriginal. At that time, although I could play in all keys, more often than not I was held back to the same old diatonic patterns and licks I had studied as a kid. Besides this frustration, I felt like there were many keys with which I wasn’t comfortable. As a solution, I decided to come up with a comprehensive method using approach notes that I could use to systematically solve these perceived weaknesses in my playing.
I started by writing out every approach I could think of in every key. For about 4-5 months, I worked on these approaches while playing along to Jamey Aebersold’s Volume 24 “Major and Minor” CD. As I worked on, and added to, my collection of approaches, I saw the positive results in my performances. Not only was I able to play faster over tunes, but I was feeling a confidence that I could start an idea on any note and find a way to resolve it and make it sound good.
As I worked on them in depth, I began to notice that my confidence in every key was improving. Also, the method I was using was helping my ear to more easily hear key centers, and something cool was happening to my time concept. I was starting to play ideas in odd meters against 4. I wasn’t tied down to the 1,2,3,4 groove, but was playing across the bar lines. I really believe that working on these exercises has helped my playing immensely. I hope that you get as much out of these exercises as I have and that they will improve your performances. Thanks, Steve