Music Improv Basics: Four Strategies For Playing Wrong Notes (properly!)

While it probably doesn’t seem like this would help – let’s face it – if you are unwilling to play a lot of wrong notes, you’re never going to learn how to do anything hard. And improvising is hard! It isn’t something that you can do safely, with the assurance that you will look good while trying to get good at it. You won’t look good. You won’t sound good — and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you will be able make real progress.

Strangely, we are from a culture that reinforces the idea that we should always look good. I mean there are actually people who think you should look good when you’re sick; when you get up in the middle of the night; or when you haven’t slept for 36 hours.

Get the picture? Read more

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Music Improv Basics: Eight Vital Things

This article discusses 8 important things to remember as improvising musicians – whether advanced or just getting started:

1. Your technique is probably miles ahead of your ability to think.

This isn’t just true for classical players. I’ve known lots and lots (and lots) of jazz players who have let their technique run the show as opposed to their brains. Happens all the time.

With players who are just beginning to improvise, this is vital to keep in mind. Slow down! Even at furious tempi, you can “long meter” melodic phrases that are actual melodic phrases that dance and skip over the fast tempo – and rolling¬†them in real time. And you can have great precision and musicality in doing so.

FYI, most players who play so fast you are asking yourself ‘how can they think that stuff in real time’ – probably aren’t really thinking that stuff in real time. Most are performing a memorized, yet impressive move. Sort of a human “subroutine call” (in the parlance software engineering).

To me, not the real thing.

Personally, I’d rather listen to simple ideas that are inspired than impressive, over- thought, over-prepared ideas any day. Particularly when they are masquerading as “improvisation.” Read more