How to learn jazz improvisation

Jazz improvisation is similar to many skills that benefit from starting off with good habits and the right foundation. Here are three activities you can do to begin improvising with greater skill and more confidence. 1. Train your ear The foundational skill of a jazz player is to play his or her instrument with the […]

The four stages of learning applied to jazz improvisation

Explanations of behaviors abound with quadrants. My favorite, of which many others are based on is the 1. Expressive, 2. Amiable, 3. Analytical, 4. Driver quadrant. We all have dominant parts of our personality that fall into these quadrants, usually more than one.

One way you will stop yourself from improvising well or at all

Researchers have identified two kinds of mindset. One, they call “Fixed” and the other, they call”Growth”. As you can imagine, they are polar opposites and have the power to determine the fate of your life. Now, if that is too dramatic for you, let’s say that those two mindsets affect how you improvise jazz. Better? […]

Unlocking your full musical potential by being present while you play

Last night, I watched a video of pianist Kenny Werner speak at Google about his Effortless Mastery method. In my next life, I want to work for Google. You’ve got to give Google credit for being open to interesting ideas that stretch the minds of its people. This one was on creativity. Kenny demonstrated to […]

Playing tunes in 12 keys?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of playing tunes in alternative keys as a method for learning to improvise. I am on an email distribution involving dozens of well-known jazz masters and the other day we all received an email written by one of those musicians who is also a top jazz […]

Hal Galper’s demonstration of results

In a world craving instant gratification and immediate results, players learning the craft of jazz live a somewhat frustrated existence. Results are slow to come. Spoiler alert: improvisation is hard. I watched a video today that I hadn’t seen in a while, and it reminded me that in the hands of a good teacher, instant […]

The key to satisfying jazz improvisation may not be learning all the scales.

A trombone player who bought Trombone Improvisation Savvy a while back wrote that as an orchestral player proficient at reading music, he feels overwhelmed when looking at chord changes. He wrote that the book isn’t giving him what he needs in terms of chord scales to practice until they become part of muscle memory. He […]

How to prepare for sitting in on a jam session

One of the most important activities a jazz musician can take part in is a jam session. Spontaneity is the essence of jazz and if you’re not in a band that plays regularly, you probably don’t play live often enough with other musicians. Play live with and in front of people is what strengthens your […]

The five minute daily habit to make you a much better improviser

Writing yesterday’s post, I had no intention of writing a post script. But as I thought more about the section in which I suggested a 15 minute daily routine to build your jazz improvisation, I wanted to suggest an even easier routine. In the previous post, I laid out a 15 minute daily routine that […]

Master this discipline and be a much better improviser

A flautist (aka flute player) I’ve been working with wrote me recently that she is excited to notice that her “ear to instrument reaction time” is improving. She is habitually working on a few exercises such as the Brahms Lullaby in 12 keys and Jazz Patterns for Ear and seeing some delightful results. This article […]