Transcending Your Skills To Improvise More Expressively

Learning to improvise music means learning to respond immediately to the stimuli of the moment (time feel, harmony, song form, other players, etc.) in such a way as to produce cogent, sincerely expressed music. There’s lots of reflexive activity going on here. Stuff seemingly below consciousness. If you ask many highly gifted and accomplished improvising […]

Listening Better By Consciously Ignoring

Recently I taught an introductory workshop in improvisation to a group of young (mostly high school and college age) musicians. All of the members of my class were primarily interpretive musicians (classically trained) and were already reasonably proficient players. All were quite excited and interested (if not a little nervous) about delving into the act […]

Want To Clarify Your Musical Thinking? Start Singing

One of the often overlooked skills that an improvising musician needs to develop is the ability to sing clearly, easily and accurately, any musical musical idea that comes to mind. Whether it’s a scale fragment, melodic sequence or an entire phrase from a transcribed solo, to play with connection to the music, you must be […]

Making Music Together: There’s No Substitute For Rapport

As a serious musician you probably spend a great deal of time in the practice room. This is a highly solitary activity. Countless hours refining, discovering, re-thinking, all with the aim of improvement. And improvement you get. But have you ever noticed that no matter how well you play in the practice room, that’s there’s […]

The Beginning Jazz Improviser’s Biggest Mistake

Improvisation can seem like a mysterious, almost impenetrable process to those new to studying it. The idea that a musician can generate cogent, beautiful melodies on the spot seems almost superhuman. But in fact, it is one of the most  human characteristics we possess. We’re actually natural improvisers.  We speak and move spontaneously everyday with no […]