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” […]

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 […]

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 […]