Think it's too late to learn to improvise??

Discussion in 'General Information' started by robbo, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. robbo

    robbo

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    Hi everyone,

    I've been running a free page called "Jazz Lick of the Week" for a while. The most encouraging feedback that I've been getting is from career long/life long "legit" players that have started to have a go at improvisation.

    Improv does seem a real mystery to many, and I see and hear too often "I'd love too but it's a bit too late".
    You don't need to aim for Charlie Parker. But if you'd be happy to be able to join in over a 12 bar blues, or a basic standard, give yourself a month or two and you'd be surprised how quickly you can pick it up. In fact, age is in the older students favour as they have more patience! Young students want to be able to do it all in the first week, and then give up if it doesn't happen.

    Lick of the week contains licks for beginners to slightly advanced, as well as some ear training and a bit of jazz harmony chat. (I'm tending to focus more on the beginner side in later weeks due to responses that I've been receiving) Most licks stay around the same group of chords so that you're not dealing with too much too soon. There's mp3's to hear examples and play along to, and pdf's for most instruments.

    Visit the archive here
    http://pigletmusic.com/lick-week-archive/

    This link will take you to our archive where you can browse the topics.

    You'll see a link on some of the pages directing you to a youtube clip which has been very popular too.

    Hope you enjoy!

    Rob Booth
    http://pigletmusic.com
     
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  2. Tony Fairbridge

    Tony Fairbridge Tony F

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    I've been following your page with interest and I've learned something from it. I returned to the clarinet in my late 60's after a 50 year gap. I'd never tried improvising until then, but I found that as long as you can hear it in your head then you can play it. I now find that I can take a theme and improvise on the fly without effort or having to think about it. As long as you understand key signatures and the necessity of working within them there isn't a problem.
    Tony F.
     
  3. robbo

    robbo

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    Excellent Tony! I hope some others will get inspired from that.

    Ultimately in improvisation you want to be able to play what's in your head. It's the communication between your "head" and your fingers that's the problem. Some do it very naturally, some not so naturally. In my teaching I've found that learning little licks, or even "motifs" around key notes in chords can help speed up that process. As I always try and disclose - my approach is only one of many. Most approaches are good as long as you enjoy them.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Rob
     
  4. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm pretty sure that the key/chord progression is from this. Paul Desmond & Chet Baker.

    I relatively suck at improvisation. I think one of the reasons for this is that I mainly played low instruments (bari sax, contrabass clarinet, etc.) where "improv" essentially means "play a bass line" or "harmonize with the bass line." I've also never been good enough to hear something in my head and then play it (or write it down), which was a bit of a challenge in coposition classes :D.
     
  5. robbo

    robbo

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    Hi Pete.
    No, the chord progression is straight out of the real book and the key is different to that recording.

    But...., that recording was the inspiration behind choosing that tune :) What you must've picked up on was a couple of Chet's licks that I "borrowed".
    Great ears!
    I actually got the transcription out again the other day for my own purposes/practice as there's some other really nice, useful stuff in there.

    Rob
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Clarinet CE/Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    It's never too late to learn. And as mentioned, it's not an instantaneous thing.

    I started learning how to improvise when I studied the techniques of Benny Goodman and Grover Washington Jr.

    With Grover, you can hear little lifts here and there in his playing (and many other attributes). If you incorporate those simple techniques into a simple piece you get a good start. Then you can study their specific volume control through out a piece or even a few notes. There's so much to learn by studying jazz players not just in the long full improvized pieces but just the technical aspect that they add to colorize their playing.
     
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