Learning to improvise

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by nickenator, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. nickenator

    nickenator Pianissimo User

    77
    2
    Oct 19, 2008
    Where do I start? Learning major and minor scales? Memorizing modes and arpeggios? Or just playing some tunes in C major and goofing around. I do not have a music theory background and have a hard time following some of the online courses (there is one on coursera.com from Berklee).
     
  2. -C-

    -C- Pianissimo User

    65
    18
    Jul 13, 2011
    Go to YouTube and search for "Charlie Porter improv".
     
  3. nickenator

    nickenator Pianissimo User

    77
    2
    Oct 19, 2008
    Did that. Working on those ideas as we speak.
     
  4. fuzzyhaze

    fuzzyhaze Mezzo Piano User

    570
    181
    Nov 22, 2009
    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
    Play play play. Along with all your favourite music, the radio, random stuff you hear. Don't be scared to make mistakes. There are thousands of ways to learn to improvise, buy some Aebersolds, some Hal Leanords. Learn the blues in every key, that covers you for nearly all western popular music. Jam with people as often as you can. Listen. Sing. Play what you sing that develops your ear. Others here will give many other ways of going about this. Have fun and enjoy this journey!
     
  5. nickenator

    nickenator Pianissimo User

    77
    2
    Oct 19, 2008
    Complete novice here. What does "learn the blues in every key" mean?
     
  6. fuzzyhaze

    fuzzyhaze Mezzo Piano User

    570
    181
    Nov 22, 2009
    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
    Learn to jam along to the 12 bar blues in the key of C, Csharp, D, Eb, E etc... all the way through the 12 keys. In major and minor keys. Aebersold does a 12 bar blues play along cd in every key. Buy that (no I'm not on a commission, it is standard for anyone wishing to play jazz/improvise to do this) and there are plenty of suggestions in the accompanying book on scales to use etc.
     
  7. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    18,123
    9,292
    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Play along with recordings. This trains the ear. That is just as vital when learning to improv. To hear, you must first listen.
     
  8. fuzzyhaze

    fuzzyhaze Mezzo Piano User

    570
    181
    Nov 22, 2009
    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
    It all seems like a huge mystery now but you only get better and improve by doing it and doing thousands of repetitions (and I don't mean playing the same thing over and over again) I mean thousands of 'failed' attempts with the occassional success that makes you feel great. gmonady is right, play along to the music you love. When I said sing, I did not mean get singing lessons I meant hum, whistle, sing like Johnny Cash if you have to (doesn't have to be perfect, just have a feeling) over your favourite tunes then translate what you just sung back onto playing the trumpet. Listen to the way others play, not just other trumpet players. Expose yourself to as many improvised styles as you can. There's the blues, there's flamenco, there's Indian music. African music, there's improvised music all around the world, all different, all beautiful in it's own way. This a never ending journey. The technical stuff seems arcane and obscure now but you can learn it when you need to, plenty of people like me to chime in with their tuppence worth. You have to be a collector of information and stimulation and keep an open mind to all kinds of sound. One of my favourite improvisers of all time is Don Cherry he travelled around the world soaking up other cultures and learning to play thousands of different instruments, he never ever tied himself down to any one genre.
     
  9. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    3,501
    2,304
    Oct 22, 2008
    Maryland
    There's no one way to approach this, and a lot of good answers have been given.

    My view is similar to the OP's initial suggestion -- you have to learn the grammar before you can speak the language. So I agree that you should learn scales, arpeggios, and other basic jazz patterns.

    It might also help to follow a formal approach. For me, I started with Aebersold's material, especially volumes 1, 2, and 3. There's a lot of good foundational material to work through in the first 3 volumes -- key scales, basic patterns, blues, ii-V.

    Mike
     
  10. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    3,501
    2,304
    Oct 22, 2008
    Maryland
    I think this was already answered. And the "12 key" approach is the way to go. But since we're all at different levels of development, I want to add my "2 cents".

    Initially, it can be daunting to learn anything in 12 keys. If it is, then start with the popular keys. For the blues, that's probably concert Bb, Eb, and F (C, F, and G for trumpet).

    The truth is, 95% of the jazz we play is in only about 5 or 6 keys -- Bb, Eb, Ab, F, C, G (C, F, Bb, G, D, A for trumpet). If 12 keys is too much right now, you can always limit the patterns you work on to a subset of keys.

    Mike
     

Share This Page