I am looking forward to practicing today. I am in the process of memorizing 24 songs I have worked on for over a year. It is important to me to be able to play many of the jazz standards. Usually, from what I remember, at jam sessions, it is usually jazz standards being played. Apart from that, standards are simply something that all serious musicians should know.
One of the other things I work on is scales. If you don’t know your scales you’ll have a hard time improvising over jazz chord progressions. Another thing I work on is arpeggios or triads (chords). If you can arpeggiate the chord symbols you see in a song you’re one step closer to becoming a better improviser.
I will also try to do some reading (music that is). One of the most important skills of a musician is being able to read music, and proficiently enough that it cuts down rehearsal and practice time. The better you are at reading music the better chance you have a getting hired in studios. Not my intent though. It is just important to be able to read music. It is a skill no musician should be without.
I am always working on my sound. There is no sense in developing monster technique if ruined by your lack of ability to get a good sound on your instrument. Long tones, which I hate, are a big part of this process. It is something I should do a lot more. It also helps you learn to manage the air you put through the instrument, something I desperately need to work on.
I don’t always get to these items during my practice. That’s because like most kids and other musicians I’d rather be playing a song instead of the boring stuff that actually makes musicians better.