My week at the Jazzwise Summer School seems eons ago, now. But I've made good use of the copious notes I made during some of the sessions and have developed a robust practice routine for my jazz piano playing which seems to be producing results.
I can usually manage an hour-or-so's practice probably 3 evenings during the week and a bit longer at the weekends. In that time I have been focusing on working on really getting inside individual scales for 'What Is This Thing Called Love?' and transcribing a couple of solo piano impro pieces. If there's time I go back to work started a couple of months ago on 'My Foolish Heart'.
I'm really enjoying the process as my fluency at impro increases day by day.
The summer school taught me that ensemble playing and jamming with other musicians is a great way to progress quickly. And yet those opportunities aren't currently available to me. It would be great to find some 'minus-one' type jazz piano practice materials - say with just bass and drums or maybe with a lead instrument too. That would allow me to practise the ensemble pianist's comping role as well as some soloing. But to my surprise I've been unable to find any audio or MIDI file backing tracks that will do the job. Of course there are lots of jazz playalongs available but most of them still ask you to pan the stereo mix hard left or hard right (to remove the piano form the mix). Problem is that I haven't seen a home stereo system with pan settings on it for years. Certainly my mp3 player doesn't allow it.
The only thing would be to edit the audio playalong on my PC/Mac to pan the mix to remove the piano. That would probably be highly illegal and in any case is not how I'd prefer to spend my precious practice time. So I've decided to go along to my local Saturday morning jazz jam session (the nearest one to me is in Sheffield, though there are many such events dotted around the country).
Despite this small obstacle I'm really enjoying the process of discovery and of getting my piano playing working again. It's prompted me to replace my old digital piano with a new Yamaha YUS3 Silent - allowing me the delight of playing a gorgeous and tonally rich acoustic piano again but still with the ability to practise silently on headphones, in order to maintain family peace!