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 […]

A Simple Way To Expand Your Improvisational Vocabulary (As You Improve Your Technique!)

The most typical frustration that an aspiring student of improvisation expresses to me in our initial consultation is that they feel stuck. They feel rather stagnant, uninspired by their own predictable (to them, anyhow!) playing. And as I listen to them play and ask questions, I notice without fail that not enough of their practice […]

10 Recurring Principles Of Effective Practice (And Performance)

This past year I’ve had the privilege and honor to serve as practice coach and Alexander Technique teacher to some especially outstanding musicians, from elite orchestral members, to studio session pros, to full-time jazz artists. I’m always so thankful for what I learn from my students, and use what I learn not only to help […]

Improvisation: Using Silence As A Part Of Your Expression

It is often said about the great jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis, that a large part of his improvisational genius manifested itself not only in what he played, but also in what he didn’t play. His use of silence became an integral color of all his improvisations. It was largely responsible for keeping us, the […]

An Important Component of Effective Practice That Is Too Often Overlooked

Whenever I meet with a musician for the first time to give a practice coaching session, I ask lots of questions about musical goals, as well as the procedures to attain those goals. In essence, these questions fall under the category of two broader questions: “What would you like to have?”  and “What are you […]