Choosing Tune(s) for High Intensity Interval Practice

5 Tips for Quickly Selecting Repertoire!

  1. Pick no more than 5 tunes at a time. In jazz, there’s constant pressure to learn and memorize dozens, if not hundreds of tunes. Instead, focus on learning 1-5 tunes at a time (over a 5-week period). This will help you stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed. Even if you only memorize one tune at a time, you’ll learn 10 tunes a year!
  2. Pick a theme for your tunes. When you pick your 1-5 tunes, have them all be part of theme that fits your practice goal. If you’re preparing for a performance, they should all be concert repertoire. If you’re trying to learn a particular genre, the tunes should all be representative of that style (or arranged in that style). As your practice goals change, so will your repertoire themes.
  3. Listen to as much music as possible. The best way to select repertoire is to listen to as much music as possible. YouTube, Pandora, and high-quality radio stations are all great sources of tune ideas. Be sure to schedule time for listening as you would practice – workday commutes are an especially good time. Be sure to have a way to jot down the names of tunes that you like.
  4. Listen to as many versions of a tune as possible. Once you’ve figured out a tune that you would like to learn, research it and track down as many versions as you can find. As you listen, make sure it is level-appropriate – that it will be challenging to learn, but not completely overwhelming. If possible, follow along with a leadsheet (see below) to really learn the tune. The more deeply you know the tune, the easier it will be to practice.
  5. Track down a high-quality leadsheet for the tune. If you’ve selected a jazz tune, you’ll want to procure a leadsheet (a simplified chart with melody and chord changes) for it. Leadsheets are available in “Fakebooks” (which you can purchase in music stores) or for individual online download. Make sure the leadsheet is legible and has the correct chord changes (some tunes have multiple variations, so you’ll need to pick the one that works best for you). Once you have tune(s) and leadsheet(s), you’re ready to create a practice folder – which we’ll cover in tomorrow’s post!

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist and Instructor

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