Jazz & Classical Playing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by bdengler, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    :help: I'm an amateur, and I play where I can get the most opportunity, mainly, twice a month at church (pizz style) and in some community orchestras. I'm having some bad hand trouble (a touch of arthritis and tendonitis in the left, index finger knuckle joint) that seems to swell badly from over use. So, I thought of mixing jazz practice and classical practice by doing jazz one night and classical on another night. The jazz practice is less stressful on the left knuckle. Do any of you do both....jazz and classical playing...and how do you set up your practice schedules?

    Thanks, Brian
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I do, but it doesn't stress my hands in any different way. What are you doing differently in your left hand when you play jazz versus classical music?

    I mostly feel it in my back and shoulders after playing a classical gig. I think it's just because of all the arco, and the fact that I'm just not as comfortable with it as I am with jazz; I probably just hold on to too much tension back there. If I played as much classical as I do jazz, it'd probably be the other way around.
  3. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Marcus, I think my hand is more relaxed when I play jazz style; I squeeze and let go. I think with arco style, I put a death grip on the neck and I don't let go. Plus, I use more closed, rather than open strings on arco style since a bowed open string has a different sound than a closed string, especially in more melodic playing.

  4. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Brian, have you tried different things to get out of the "grip of death" habit?

    I have had many teachers have me working on getting a lighter touch to get away from the grip of death.

    Here are a few things that worked for me:

    1. play sitting. This keeps the bass sturdy so you can play more freely with your hands. Currently, I do sorta the same thing but standing.

    2. The no thumb on the back of the neck exercises. While it may feel weird at first, it helped me because then you know from feeling when you are applying to much pressure.

    3. One teacher I had made me do exercises with the bow and using as little pressure as possible to get a good tone from the left hand. It really woke me up it terms of I was squeezing the neck way to hard.

    4. For me at least, I find that when I keep my hand in the C-shape I use the back muscles more. When I get tired my elbow tends to drop and the "grip of death" comes back out.

    I got the grip of death from my first teacher who was strictly classical player (simandl method). While he was a great teacher, after moving to NYC many of the Jazz players have shown me a more relaxed way to play. Basically, if you are hurt and in pain, something has to give.

    Have you tried Alexander Method?

    I do about 50/50 and neither really seems to change my approach.

    Good Luck
  5. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    Thanks, I've been trying the "C" hold and the "no thumb" exercises. I've even switched teachers, since the new teacher is willing to focus more on the left hand and arm (my former teacher, who is very, very good focused more on bow technique). My hand problem is so bad that I've been thinking of switching to something like cello or harp. I can't even take up the guitar because it's too painful to do bar chords.

  6. mcbosler


    May 12, 2000
    Plano, TX
    Definitely work on playing relaxed.

    As far as the order of things while practicing, I usually do both arco and pizz in each sitting, but have found it very beneficial to do the arco/classical work first. Really gets me listening, and my intonation tends to be much better with the pizz after some classical exercises.