My life has been busy of late. Between my day job, teaching lessons, taking lessons, three bands (now down to two), and plans to move in a week, I'm left with only a few hours of practice time each day. I now focus on two goals: a successful audition for SDSU's Master's program in jazz studies and landing paying (or at least resume-building) gigs. The most essential requirement for the audition is that I get my sight reading up to par. Improving my comping and improvising would also help. The bands I work with are nearly to the point of booking paying gigs, but I also want to build a solo jazz repertoire so I can book my own.

I have a giant list of concepts, techniques, books, and musicians I want to study. Much of it is left over from my year in the woodshed, and some I've added recently.



  • Mother II, all scales/modes: diatonic, MM, HM, pentatonic, arpeggios, etc.
  • New Mother w/ chords (coming soon)
  • Chord melody
  • Sight reading
  • Transcribing
  • Random tunes from Real Book
  • Learn a tune into the ground (Giant Steps, Ana Maria)


  • Django, McL, Sco, DiM, Nels, Paco, SRV
  • Charlie Christian?
  • Bird, Trane

I only have about two hours per day to practice. I'll bump it to three or four after the move. Still, that's a ton of material to cram in there. And I'm not patient about it; I want to learn it all now. So I've divided my time into four categories, each commanding 30 minutes for now: Warm-Up, Sight Reading, Conceptual, Practical.

  1. The Warm-Up section is not only for getting my fingers wiggling, but also for memorizing scales, arpeggios, chords, generally reinforcing my mental map of the fretboard. This includes Mother II with any scale, memorizing SDSU's scales, New Mother w/ chords, scale sequences.
  2. The Sight Reading section is simple. I sight read. I use my sightreader program to warm up, then switch to random pages from the Real Book, Omnibook, or the sight reading books I'm working through.
  3. The Conceptual section is for everything new for my head or fingers: new licks, concepts, strategies, techniques, etc. All the remaining books and all the listed musicians are included in this section.
  4. The Practical section is for applying what I learned during Conceptual. I'll usually jam over Band in a Box, practicing known tunes or adding new ones to my repertoire.

With my erratic schedule, I can't commit to the same practice duration every day. So I decide how long it will be the moment I start, and divide my time evenly into these four sections. I try to stick to a single topic for each section, which I write down for myself every morning. Then I spend the remainder of my work day trying not to think so much about guitar (an absurd challenge).