I had been practicing bebop exercises over 8-bar sections of jazz standards. It was going great, and I was working things up to my target tempo.
8-bar practice segments are good for me, because I’m an impatient person by nature, and I want something that I can accomplish within a single practice session.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I needed to take the next step. I needed to practice bebop over the entire form of jazz standards, rather than small excerpts. I had been avoiding doing this, because this seemed like an impossible task. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about improvising a solo, but rather playing bebop exercises that I come up with in order to really challenge myself.
Finally I decided: just practice it 1000 times. So far I’ve done this for two songs. The first one, I’m ashamed to say, I only got through about 500 repetitions over 4 or 5 days, and I couldn’t stand to continue practicing it.
The second time, I’m going to go more steadily to avoid burning out. A good daily program for me seems to be to practice it 10 times or so just to get the exercise under my fingers at first, and then push the tempo to my breaking point. Then, slow it back down at the end of the practice session and play it about 10 more times very relaxed. I think that’s important, because after I play something for a while at the breaking point, I feel really frustrated. If I slow it down and play it a few times, the frustration is alleviated and I walk away from the practice session a bit happier.