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What is a wast of time?

  • Scales

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Learning licks in 12 keys

    Votes: 10 8.8%
  • Long tones

    Votes: 4 3.5%
  • Overtones

    Votes: 2 1.8%
  • Learning to sight read

    Votes: 2 1.8%
  • Learning to sight transpose

    Votes: 8 7.1%
  • Transcribing

    Votes: 4 3.5%
  • Memorizing tunes

    Votes: 3 2.7%
  • Learning tunes in 12 keys

    Votes: 26 23.0%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 69 61.1%
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Note that I didn't say "playing tunes in all keys is a waste of time", I said "learning tunes in 12 keys can be a waste of time". Big difference, see the rest of my post to follow my reasoning.
When I say "playing" a tune in all keys that assumes "learning". That's the reason I do it on piano first. Once I've learned it I can then play on it.

I understand what you've described as automatically playing without learning but that's not what I was talking about. When playing on a tune I always know what chord is happening at any point when I'm playing, even if I'm not consciously thinking of it.

My overall point is that this has benefits far beyond the immediate considerations of how many tunes one knows and in how many keys. That's actually not even the point of it.

Thing is, I find the process comes much easier and faster the more (and more slowly) I do it. In earlier years I tried to learn too many tunes too quickly and never got any real traction and was frustrated. I found that by concentrating on a handful of tunes and learning them to this degree I was then able to learn a new tune in five minutes if I had to. Maybe on a jam session I'd hear the changes a couple of times and know what the chords were pretty much right away.

Yes, that's why I find playing licks in 12 keys very important, you can easily run through a lick in 12 keys in one practice session. If you play only one horn and you practice 8 hours a day, then learning all your repertoire in 12 keys is feasible. If, like myself, you're a doubler and you work on being equally fluent on all of your instruments, spending all your time on one tune in different keys is not the most efficient use of your practice time. I did at one point, when I was younger, learn Donna Lee in 12 keys, but I can't imagine doing that with the over 200 tunes I have memorized.
Yes, but playing licks in all twelve keys is a very different process than being able to play what you hear in all twelve keys. "Playing what you hear" meaning the same thing it does when singing. But on the horn it's based on the ability to go in any direction at any time, from any one note to any other, knowing in your mind what the next note will sound like before you play it.

While I wouldn't necessarily need to practice 200 tunes in all keys I'd certainly want to be able to have the skill to at least figure out any key on any given tune in a minute or two and be able to play on it just as easily as the given key.
 

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Playing what you hear, not where your fingers want to go is what I struggle with, I may have to suck it up and start practicing in 12 keys. Where for you it's a few days for a tune, a project like that may take me years :(
Not at all! Start with the blues. The slower and more concentrated you go, the better the effect of finding the notes that you're hearing. And you'll have the time to hear how the notes relate to the chords. Once you can comfortably navigate what you're hearing on a blues in all twelve keys the process onward will be that much easier. But you have to really go slow. That may seem at odds with the idea of how much time it will take to achieve your goals but trust me, the slower you go the faster you'll progress. The things that I practice currently (having been playing now for over 40 years) are the very same basic things that beginners do. Thing is, over time you begin to see the universe in a twelve bar blues. :)

Speaking of goals, the goal is not to be an encyclopedia of tunes in all keys. The goal (for me) is to transpose on the horn as easily as when singing. That's a long term process, for sure. But don't let that intimidate you. The progress along the way is more than stimulating enough to keep things going!

Additional thought...just in case it's not clear…the reason this goal is important to me is not necessarily to be good at transposing (although that's an important skill)…but because I find that when improvising I can more easily play what I hear at any given time, thereby opening up the channels to freer expression. No matter what kind of music…
 

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Yeah, the tunes in all keys seems like a daunting task but as you can tell from reading the post it's not so much a matter of working out every tune in all keys. It's more about being able to hear and/or understand how the chord progression work in any key. Most tunes that I really know I can at least solo on them in any key because I have a thorough understanding of how the chord progression is put together. It's more so a matter of transposing 'sections' of the tune not individual chords. This is definitely easier with standards as opposed to modern jazz tunes because most of the early standards and jazz tunes re-use the same building blocks when it comes to the chord progressions. The more you really study your harmony the easier it becomes to understand how chord progressions are put together. (and that's not as hard as you may think...smile)

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When I say "playing" a tune in all keys that assumes "learning".
Ah, we are talking about different things I think, fair enough. I see it as an ideal (for me) that once I have truly learnt a tune, I the process of playing it in different keys requires no more learning, just listening and playing. But we all have different methods.
 

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Thing is, over time you begin to see the universe in a twelve bar blues. :)…
So true. I like that, well said! Problem is, a lot of players interested in jazz abandon the blues before they even get close to really digging in and learning how to play them. They think of the blues as a basic thing that can be learned in a couple of weeks, so try to "move on" without any real understanding of the blues. IMHO anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
....While I wouldn't necessarily need to practice 200 tunes in all keys I'd certainly want to be able to have the skill to at least figure out any key on any given tune in a minute or two and be able to play on it just as easily as the given key.
OK, I can see the value in that. Learning a couple of tunes in 12 keys would be a good thing to incorporate into your practice routine, but doing so with all your repertoire would be overkill IMHO.
 

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OK, I can see the value in that. Learning a couple of tunes in 12 keys would be a good thing to incorporate into your practice routine, but doing so with all your repertoire would be overkill IMHO.
True, but the process is one that I use every day. And whenever I learn a new tune (or practice an old one) I always transpose it to at least a few other keys. It's a large part of my practice routine as so many other issues are contained within it.
 

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25% think learning tunes in 12 keys is a waste of time? wow... this is one of Peter Bernsteins recommendations.. pick a tune, play it and improvise on it through the keys... comes in real handy when you're working with a singer even if it's a tune you have not put through the keys before.
 

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25% think learning tunes in 12 keys is a waste of time? .
Again, it possibly comes down to terminology. I think it's possibly a waste of time to learn a tune in 12 keys, but not a waste of time to learn a tune in one key and then have the ears to play it in all twelve.

Does that make sense?
 

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Thing is, over time you begin to see the universe in a twelve bar blues. :)
That's a great phrase!! I appreciate your response and it's really got me thinking about this. I am at a point where I've been hacking around with music for several years but I haven't really done any serious work and I feel like I need to decide where it's going. I've always been a bit overwhelmed with the volume of stuff to be done to really learn to play this music, maybe this is a good place to start figuring out some things.
 

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learning songs in 12 keys is more about getting intimate with the instrument and aural - ear training.
just do what works best in our pursue of our own voice.
 

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learning songs in 12 keys is more about getting intimate with the instrument and aural - ear training.
Finally someone who appears to think the same as me. It's not about learning songs in different keys, it's about knowing songs in different keys.
 

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FWIT, I've found both learning and playing tunes in every key to have a positive influence on ears, technique, and thinking ability. During a lesson with Ben Street, he assigned Donna Lee, both melody and chords in every key - that took a solid month of shedding every day to get, and I learned a ton doing it.

One of my advanced students has been working on My Ideal - we've learned to sing the melody (and the root motion) and play the melody and the chords in every key. He's learned quite a bit in the process and his musicianship, ears, technique and grasp of diatonic harmony have all improved as a result.

I've often found that when I know a tune well in one key I can get through it ok in other keys (if the melody is not too complex), but, by sitting down and working on it thought the keys, I end up flushing out the weaknesses in the original key, in part by discovering where I hear the tune and where I rely on muscle memory.

Anyway, great discussion - to each his/her own - there's many paths to the top of a mountain.
 

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but, by sitting down and working on it thought the keys, I end up flushing out the weaknesses in the original key, in part by discovering where I hear the tune and where I rely on muscle memory.
Which is a very important thing to know IMO.
 

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Again, it possibly comes down to terminology. I think it's possibly a waste of time to learn a tune in 12 keys, but not a waste of time to learn a tune in one key and then have the ears to play it in all twelve.

Does that make sense?
Having done a lot of ear training I'm not sure it would have been enough to get my ears to the point of being able to play tunes in all 12 keys without having actually devoted a lot of time to the process of learning tunes in 12 keys. That said, the more learning I do the easier the hearing becomes. Both parts of the equation (learning and hearing) are ongoing. And I expect that to remain the case. :)

Today's tune...Indiana...
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
....by sitting down and working on it thought the keys, I end up flushing out the weaknesses in the original key, in part by discovering where I hear the tune and where I rely on muscle memory......
Very good point. That's often times the case with fast bebop tunes.

I think I'll start working on 2 or 3 tunes this way. I've done it in the past, I'm curious to see how easier it will be now.
 

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There's no reason on Earth for me to learn specific tunes in all 12 keys. Plus, if I can learn the piece to play by ear, I can probably just adjust to any key I want by starting the song on the correct note. But there's only a few keys I might need to be able to adjust to on the fly.
 

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Just curious, how do you go about it?
Cycle of fifths? Semitones?
I usually go straight to whatever key I think may present me with the most problems. (I think there was a three week period this past spring where I played everything in Gb). But generally I move things around in a way that varies with the tune and the day. Sometimes I go random other times I might go chromatically. Doesn't seem to matter as long as I cover all my bases.

I find that I can usually play lines that fit the changes in the new key pretty much right away but that I can be limited by these same tendencies. I don't want my perception of where I am to be determined by the things I play (getting in and out of chords in habitual ways). I want to break through those habits and be able to dip in and out with my phrasing, free to go anywhere at any time. This requires an actual knowledge of where I am at any given time (specifically what chord I'm playing over).

So for me, knowledge of the details of the tune is the "learning" part. Often I have to re-learn the tune (or parts of it) in a new key. I assume that in time this may be less so. Eventually I can "see" the entire form as one thing and just simply play, imagining myself more as a painter putting color on a canvas.

I find that this process of learning/playing through tunes in varying keys helps get me closer to that pure place I want to be in when improvising, regardless of tune or key. That's why I like it so much.

Let us know how it goes!
 

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I voted none of the above. I try to do some of each. I don't really practice scales anymore unless I can apply them to a tune, like I don't go through my major,minor etc scales. That's ok for a music student I guess. You should be able to sight transpose a concert part on Alto or Tenor. It's all useful stuff, you never know what you will be asked to do in the music world.
 
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