Deepening Improvisation: Do This Every Time You Learn a New Melodic Pattern

Part of the work in studying improvisation is what I call “feeding” our ears and imagination. In essence, this involves learning and practicing new patterns and sequences. These patterns can be anything from simple, diatonic melodic movements, to more harmonically complex polytonal statements that you’ve discovered in a jazz etude book, to very particular “licks” […]

Listening to Your Sound Differently: An Experiment in Perception

There really is no such thing as truly hearing the “absolute reality” of your sound as you play. In part, that’s because your sound constantly changes as it is impacted by two fundamental things: 1. Environment 2. Perception Environment has to do with such things as the acoustical qualities of the room you’re playing in, […]

Healthy and Efficient Practice: Aim for Wanting This at the End of Each Session

Part of my work as practice coach is in helping musicians clarify their wishes. This involves suggesting ways to reframe what they want in a manner that is most conducive to actually getting it. One of the most fundamental desires I encourage my clients to cultivate has to do with how they feel at the […]

Skill and Coordination (They’re Not Necessarily the Same Thing)

  One of the aims of the Alexander Technique is to improve coordination. And I would say more specifically for musicians, the aim of the Technique is to improve the quality of  overall  coordination that you use to implement your music making skills. A misapprehension that many musicians have is that skill and coordination are one and […]

Is Improvisation Really Just “Spontaneous Composition”?

Yes. (to answer the question in the title) And no. Yes, in that you are most certainly generating musical ideas. And yes, these ideas contain what can be referred to as “compositional elements and principles”. And yes, when you are a skilled improviser, you are often constructing a solo in a cogent, “compositional” manner. But […]