Difficulty improvising.

(7 posts)
  1. ninjay

    Hey guys, I've been 'playing' jazz for what? Three years now? Seems about right... Yet when it comes to improvising over key changes and making the most out of each chord playing I struggle, a lot! I've studied music theory and I understand everything that is happening yet for some reason my mind will not let me get past this wall. I always end up going back to rhythm and just playing chords but as far as I'm concerned and I'm sure every jazz musician will agree, improv is much more fun. It greatly annoys me that I just can not grasp jazz. Any hints, tips, recommendations or advice as to how you overcame a similar issue would be splendid.

    - I don't want to be the next Wes Montgomery, I just want to enjoy my instrument.

    Thanks all!

  2. jazznan

    First of all don't despair, improvisation and jazz are difficult. Like cooking a good home cooked meal, as opposed to picking up fast food.

    I remember reading an article about how Herb Ellis, I think, played a Charlie Christian solo for like a year on tour and then eventually figured out how to do something different. Maybe what you need is to learn one solo and then try to play variations, fills, etc...until you own it.

    This book by Paul F. Berliner is one of the best books on jazz I've read, cause it details out the struggles of all these great jazz musicians and their quest to become better improvisers, highly recommend it:

  3. arewolfe

    Like cooking a good home cooked meal, as opposed to picking up fast food.

    Much harder than that I'd say... I learned to cook in about 2 years. 10 years studying jazz and I still suck.

  4. smoke

    I'll tell you the answer if you will gather a mustard seed from every house where a musician is happy with their playing.

    Parables aside, you are far from alone. The fact you aren't happy about where you are is good, as long as you don't become overly negative.

    You asked for tips which are hard to give without hearing you play. I'll offer some general advice with the caveat that I am just another struggling student of music. In no particular order.

    1. Calm down and learn to love the process of learning. It takes a lot of work to become fluent. If you live 150 years, you'll still find stuff you need to work on. Just relax. Music is supposed to be fun.
    2. In general, musicians need to work on their ear. There are lots of methods. If you have trouble finding one, ask.
    3. Break problems down into smaller and smaller chunks, whatever it takes to solve them.
    4. Learn whatever tune you are shedding to the point of not having to think about it. Kurt talks about this in one of the Gdansk videos. A lot of players just don't know the harmony and melody well enough.
    5. Do a bit of scale work. You could check out David Berkman's Guide to Creative Practicing for some ideas.
    6. Transcribe a few phrases you really love. Analyze them and extrapolate them. Rinse/repeat.
    7. Work on chords and harmony. Check out Ted Greene's site for some of the best chordal stuff you will find on earth. For free.
    8. Play with friends. There is strength in numbers.
    9. Work on your touch and tone. Play whatever it is you are playing with a beautiful sound. Even simple shit sounds amazing when played with great time, touch, and tone. Ask Bill Frisell.

  5. jazznan

  6. lacroix

    Hey ninja, I dont' know how well you really play or if you're just being overcritical. However, if improvising doesn't come natural to you, I suggest that you should sit down with your guitar and start playing / improvising with no plan in mind, no chord changes, nothing. Just you and whatever mood you happen to be in in that particular moment. Be relaxed and try to enjoy the ride. Keep playing until you hit a nice line, repeat it if you can. Don't analyse it. Throw it away and find another one. Music is about giving, not keeping. It took me a lifetime to be able to grab the guitar and just play, but IMHO that's the way to go.

  7. leunam12


    take a tune you like to play over -- than choose a few bars of it - maybe bar 1 till 4 / in loop /
    play over it - have fun - enjoy yourself - try lines you know - licks you know - combine--
    and importent - make a movie for you of it!

    its a great way! -->

    [+] Embed the video | Video DownloadGet the Video Plugin





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