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Beginner One step back... nailing using backing tracks using easy etudes


Senior Member
Trondheim, Norway
Just dropping this here on the off chance it might give other learners some ideas. The problem I'm attacking is improving my ability to follow backing tracks. Tagged Beginner ... but maybe Early Intermediate?

So, I like to spend some part of each practice session learning a bit of an etude (as well as scales, patterns, learning by ear, noodling etc.). But I've struggled to work with the backing tracks... my ears being quite rubbish... but improving... Also, to date, I've not been that methodical and disciplined.

For what ever reason I decided, a month or two ago, that for my next book I'd get some easy pieces to try to nail the backing tracks without the other challenges of speed, fingerings etc. I picked up Bob Mintzer's easy jazz etudes... but just to make life a little more interesting, the version in concert C. For each piece, I listen to the demo, try to play (transposing) by ear a bit, play from the dots a bit with metronome, play with the demo, listen to the demo and backing for chord changes (mark the sections playback app so I can practice bit by bit) and then practice with the backing; first on Tenor then on Alto (or visa versa). And practising past pieces while learning a new one.

I really feel this has been good for me. With each new piece, I learn it a bit faster and - feel - I can follow the backing a better; blending relying on internal timing, backing rhythm and backing harmony to keep me in place. I should note this is not the only thing I do. For example I have a pile of blues in each key tracks from Jay/Better Sax with which I practice scales and licks. So I'm doing lots to improve my ability to follow backing tracks.
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Bob Mintzer's easy jazz etudes...
These are great, I have two of his jazz & blues études series. Many are easy enough to play with a little bit of skill, but also worth playing as you get more advanced. I did get caught playing Shuffle de Funk on alto, in the Eb book, but he played it on tenor. Only one note didn't work, the low A, I hadn't seen the 8ve in the book. To this day, I play it in the lower octave where it sounds better.


Senior Member
thats the way I do it re rhythym and tempo bit different music currently trying to play along to Janis Joplins me and Bobby Mcgee,,, do you use karaoke version at all..

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