100 Hour challenge

It’s been a month since I last updated you on this. Well, well, well, haven’t I been good! Wherever there is a piano, I is. I am practicing jazz standards and improvising. I’ve been averaging 2 hours a day and it has positively impacted upon my gigging, I got loads of compliments at Friday’s penultimate tour date, I felt loads more confident. No idea I suggested was rejected in terms of improv, however I was told to turn myself down, lol! Having regular lessons, and my teacher said in just 2 lessons I had improved considerably, yay!

Say, I’d practiced 1 hour a day for the last 4 weeks that would take me up to 89 hours on this old challenge, I know I’ve done more, but let’s just say I’ve done that ūüėČ We both know after 100 hours this aint gonna end, hooked.
I’m moving this week, so practice is on hold cos everything is being boxed up, but I’m keen to get back on the pedal!

Go me!

Week 6 & 7: 100 Hr Challenge


Day 1: Fail, still in Brumtee, spoke to mi ma about secretly moving my piano from the old house to the new (behind Pa’s back), we’ll see, he doesn’t really do Internet btw.
Day 2: Fail still in Brum, social media workshop, helping these cherubs become digital journalists.
Day 3: Fail, still in Brum exhausted, chilling with my baby
Day 4: Mediasnackers training/CPD, still in Brum
Day 5: Back in Londungeon, practice for an hour
Day 6: Practice for a couple of hours, start with some Bach, Debussy and then chords, training myself to play chords as quickly as possible
Day 7: Didn’t manage to fit any in. Booo! But I contacted a jazz pianist for lessons

Week 7:
Monday: Practiced for a few hours, still getting my head round playing chords automatically.
Tuesday: Chris D came round and we jammed around compositional ideas.
Wednesday: Had a lesson with my new teacher and learnt loads!!
Thursday: Been practicing, properly
Friday – Sunday: Doubt I’ll get a chance back in Brum.

Someone asked me what is the 100 Hour Challenge? I quote Rachel Carter:
‚ÄúPick something about which you are passionate, which you have a deep desire to learn or to achieve yourself. It can be related to work or totally personal. Ideally it‚Äôs something you will share with the wider world. Practice, read up on, share your knowledge on your chosen challenge for at least one hour a day, every day, for 100 days.‚ÄĚ

This week will take me to the 49th hour.

100 Hour Challenge: Days 4 – 8


I spoke to my mum about my old piano (given to me at childhood); currently covered in cobwebs and black bags (don’t ask), but the easiest option was to use my fella’s MIDI controller attached to Garageband, couldn’t be bothered to pair up with Logic, wanted a less heavy DAW, a basic piano sound was desired.

Some of the notes didn’t work, but it still helped me to tinkle away. I feel loads more confident about modes, I over intellectualised something quite simple. I played through several modes in each key, mainly dorian and lydian, it helped a lot. Apparently every scale can be made into a series of chords.

Day 5: No practice, no excuse really, as the lovely Rachel said I could use her piano, but ran out of time to arrange this, however I spent some time learning about self-marketing.  Still a fail!

Day 6: Friday, all day workshops with a 6am start, had a little time to jam on the piano with Chris Bishop (see Paganel project), but failed again as I jumped on a train straight after to London. I saw the amazing blues, ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyate perform at the Barbican, the music was amazing, crowd were dull – hardly any dancing! Booo! Bassekou’s improvising is amazing, his music show’s the origins of blues music and has an amazing stage¬†presence. His wife has a beautiful voice, such power and playfulness! Loved it.

Day 7: Spent 3 hours practicing which included a chat with composer¬†Sid Peacock about jazz theory. I went through progressions, realised I got some chords wrong, went through 2-5-1s again. I realised I had been confusing myself with trying to work out which scales to use, and relying too much on the key signatures. I’m getting better at spotting 2-5-1s in pieces, which means I know what initial scale to use, although there are plenty more to explore; baby steps.

Some great pointers from Sid were, practice with a metronome accenting beats 2 and 4, play 2-5-1s in a random order, get a teacher, check the improvisation primer and not get to bogged down with theory to start with, noodle. Thank you Sid!

Day 8: Using the advice from Sid, created 12 scraps of paper for each key, picked one randomly and practiced 2-5-1s.

Played through “Tune Up”, chords mainly and worked out how to play chords and melody. Tried to improvise, it sounded okay, but a bit dry. Need me some licks! Then played through some other pieces including yesterdays. All good, the louder I play the more confidence I get, but that’s the problem, I’m worried about disturbing my neighbours, so am quite timid. “Headphones”! I hear you exclaim, yes, I will use ’em next time. Wounded that I’ll be away from my keys for another week! I must get better at finding a piano in Brum!

100 Hour Challenge Anyone?

I went along to a regional creative agent conference today and was inspired by Ewan McIntosh to do a 100 hour challenge, well in fact, I was initially inspired by Rachel Carter, who was inspired by Ewan (in a previous training event) to do it. Thing is, I’m uncertain as to whether I can do it because I work away from home a lot.

What is the 100 Hour Challenge? I quote Rachel Carter:

“Pick something about which you are passionate, which you have a deep desire to learn or to achieve yourself. It can be related to work or totally personal. Ideally it‚Äôs something you will share with the wider world. Practice, read up on, share your knowledge on your chosen challenge for at least one hour a day, every day, for 100 days.”

I want to improve my improvisation techniques, learn more about jazz scales, but that involves using a piano/keyboard. When I work in Brum I hardly have access… You’re meant to practice an hour a day. However, I can only practice when I’m near a piano. What’s a girl to do? Can I do the challenge as soon as I’m home in London? Am I creating ‘extraneous pillars’? Excuses? Can I do a slower version of it? Am I being lame? What do you think?