The Gold Medal Jazz Piano Practice Challenge

Jazz PracticeHey jazz fans! Hope you’re having a fantastic day today.

Ok, in today’s post I’m going to share an exciting new practice challenge I’ve just taken up.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Some people will call me crazy after this but that inspires me even more! 🙂

I’m sharing this challenge with you because I know it will inspire you guys and you’ll  learn quite a ton as I share this journey.

What Is The Gold Medal Jazz Piano Practice Challenge?

  • For the next 1 year I will be accepting a challenge to practice piano a minimum of 28 hours a week. This will start on August 13th 2012 and end on August 13th 2013.
  • Additionally, every 3 months I will release a performance video (on this site and Youtube) of me doing a personal arrangement of a famous jazz tune.
  • This performance will be done as a challenge and to showcase the skills I develop in these 28 hour a week practice sessions. Hopefully you guys will enjoy these performances/lessons and learn a lot from them too. 🙂
  • I will post regular updates on the site (occasionally on Facebook too) as I make my way through this challenge.

When Are the Performances?

Mark Your Calendars. Release Dates (every 3 months on Mondays)

Why Am I Doing This?

I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by people who’ve overcome great odds and disciplined themselves to accomplish amazing things.

I love hearing the stories of how John Coltrane use to practice from 9-5 everyday and how Charlie Parker practiced 14 hours a day. These are amazing stories!

Olympic Inspiration

I’ve been extra inspired recently by watching the London Olympics.

I’ve been enthralled watching so many amazing athletes set personal goals and focus every ounce of their energy to achieve greatness on the world stage.

In particular I’ve been inspired by the accomplishments of the virtuosic Michael Phelps (most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals.)

Michael Phelps JazzI heard many stories of how Michael Phelps relentlessly trained for many hours a week for years.

He was the hardest working swimmer in the world!

So, with Michael’s influence and inspiration I’ve decided to start my own personal practice journey through jazz piano.

Why I’m Sharing This Practice Challenge

  • As I go through this personal journey I will share many of the concepts and lessons I learn along the way. You guys will grow as musicians as I grow.
  • By sharing this challenge with the over 8,000 unique monthly visitors to this site I’m being held accountable in a BIG WAY!
  • It’s one thing to tell just a couple drinking buddies something you’d like to accomplish one day. There’s not much accountability there and the chances of success are probably marginal.
  • So, instead I’m sharing this plan with thousands and thousands of people. People from all over the world will know about me doing this. Talk about pressure right? 🙂 I thrive under these conditions!
  • If you know anybody who would benefit from an inspiring plan like this please share it!
  • I encourage you to share this plan on Facebook or Twitter. Feel free to share this article by email as well.
  • The more “pressure” on me the more I learn. Then, the more I teach and share with you. 🙂
  • I know that by me tackling and completing this plan it will inspire you to take on your own personal goals through music.

How You Can Participate

I strongly encourage you to set some of your own musical goals. Everybody has their musical journey and your goal doesn’t need to be super intense.

It can be as simple or in depth as you want to make it. It could be something simple like…

  • “I will practice for 30 minutes for the next 5 days.”
  • “I will practice sightreading for 10 minutes a day for the next month.”
  • “I will transcribe 4 bars of a Bill Evans solo.”

Work at whatever pace you feel comfortable. What matters is that you do something!

Your Action Step Right Now

Now, I’d like to turn the floor over to you and let you have some fun.

To help yourself grow as a musician please leave a comment below and share with us. You’re among friends here. 

What musical goal are you setting for yourself? 

I look forward to sharing and hearing from you!

Update: I received a ton of emails and questions about this challenge.

So, I wrote a whole follow up answering many of the questions. You can read it here jazz practice challenge questions answered.


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  • Eddie

    I wish you a pleasant journey. It sounds interesting enough for others to take up. If I could only play at a higher intermediate level (I’m just barely intermediate), I’d do something like that myself. My praise to you, friend.

  • Bob

    Go for it! It seems like a great start! I will be following closely.

  • rico

    Wow! thats 4 hours a day for a year. Good for you if you can do it. in fact, incredable! for me, I practice 5 days a week for a couple of hours, spread out, usually trying to perfect the songs I have been working on for a while and always looking for new tunes to try. And trying to improvise on these tunes, very difficult. Good luck on your challenge!

    • Thanks Rico. I’m having a ton of fun so far doing this. I love to play so it feels great. I’ll keep posting discoveries and lessons 🙂

  • Wow, what an inspiration. I already have a goal of practicing 1 hour a day, and now I’m saying it in public, so there’s a better chance of me doing it. I usually get the whole 7 hours in by the time the week is over, but I know that I benefit a lot from the daily discipline.

    Hats off to you, and can’t wait to hear the results. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nice Cymber. That’s a great goal. If you would like you can stay accountable and post your practice on this comment area.

  • Hendrik

    You’re the man Steve!
    Looking forward to reading about the impact on your musical progression.

  • Natta

    Go for it, Steve!
    I must admit that you inspired me to set new goals of my own. Thank you!

  • bobgsearch

    what a fun idea! and talk about adding pressure on oneself…! good for you. look forward to hearing about your trials and tribulations. 🙂

  • Eric

    Im challenged,keep the fire burning man…I now feel like quiting due to the way my friend plays,he is seven times more than me,but before that,Im going to try your plan.

    • Stick with it Eric. Don’t compare yourself to your friend just worry about your own path brother. Try to get your own music better everyday and the rest will take care of itself. I promise!!

  • Jeffrey Todd Cohen

    get back to Shorter/Chopin/Schubert routine which sets off the infinity of other resources and to incorporate my new Juno Di into my midi sequencing of “Christa, Christa” .

  • Jeffrey Todd Cohen

    and maybe to start purchasing some new jazz piano theory book(s)
    Mark Levine Drop 2, etc.

  • moody

    Excellent goal! I’m practicing 2-4 hours a day too. Last month I wasn’t able to practice because of some health issues. Now I’m trying to get back my skills and it’s hard. I wish you good luck and I’m sure you will get exciting experience!
    By the way, your jazz lessons on DVD is not published yet?

    • Great to hear Moody and good for you! Glad you’re healthy.
      The DVD will be out very very soon. It’s actually been finished already I’m just creating a bunch of extra bonus materials to include in there for fans of the site 🙂 Thanks for asking about it. I’m anxious to have it ready as well!

  • Sometimes that can be true Al but this is definitely not one of those situations. I’m super structured in my practice and very aware of what I’m trying to accomplish.
    Additionally, you rarely hear great players say they practice too much. When people say that I think they’re usually finding an excuse for lack of productivity and focus.
    Since I do this for a living there is no room for any of that.

  • I`ll try to follow up to you, maybe I`ll play 2 hours a day and try to increase it to 4, what you are doing is trully inspirational! PD: Sorry for my bad english If I had a mistake somewhere

    • *approve*

      • Im doing good so far, I just came back from a Gig but I did not very good because it was really cold and it was on the outside, and my fingers froze, but in relation to my practice I`m doing 2hr daily as I said I would!, 3 days in a row, total of 6 hours, its small but something!, I`m going to search for more theory though because I`m kinda stuck in the same improvisation.

  • Thanks for the inspiration Steve! I am committing to 9 hours of practice per week for a year. Also thanks for providing the online lessons.



  • Jorge Reyes

    Hey steve my friend …. I enjoy your news all the time now .. why I play jazz ?,I really don’t play jazz, but I like to try jazz chords in most of the songs I do, I am not good with the be bop but I use the chords, witch made my music richer … do you have any article about free jazz progretions ? or some abstract jazz stile that probably you could share ? let me know … I will keep an eye in your gold medal goal 4 sure bud …. greetings from Canada my friend

  • king

    whats really wonderful and i am encouraged to do more and more

  • Aimie Page

    I’m so happy to have come across this site! I feel motivated and inspired to practise alot and work towards becoming a better player!thanks sooooooo much for your website!

  • Piano Harry

    I fight for practise time. When I was younger – I’m 51 now, I would set the alarm to 4:30, practise for 2 hours before school. After school I would practise another 2 hours. On weekends I would practise all day. ( I was playing guitar at the time, didn’t start piano till later in life).
    What I have learned is that I make the best progress on about 2 hours per day practise. Any more and the effort seems to outweigh the benefits, less, and I don’t cover everything.
    I am constantly looking for ways to maximise my progress in these 2 hours.
    Any tips, please!
    Thanks for a great site, Steve. Your contribution to piano and jazz education is tremendous.