Learning to improvise

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

  1. Sidekick

    Sidekick Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 14, 2011
    London UK
    I would echo others on the Charlie Porter approach to this, you can find his videos on Youtube and he has a good one on the basics of how to start improvising.
  2. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    DITTO!!! The only mistake would be to not try! I learned fooling around with Tv theme songs and trying / learning the keys. Also did a lot of 1-3-5-8-7 intervals work to get the feel for improve and build my confidence. It's pretty easy to do without a lot of frustration.
  3. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    I understand what Stuart is saying. But I think it's too broad of a statement.

    There are different types of jazz improvisation books. A good workbook isn't a bad way to go. Like I said above, I started with the Aebersold series (especially volumes 1, 2 and 3). There are other good books out there, too.

  4. tjcombo

    tjcombo Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 12, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    +1. The theory contained in the books is part of what you need to internalise, but playing without dots is the aim. FWIW, the best theory lessons I got on improv came from my guitar teacher.
  5. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Absolutely. I took private lessons for sax player in college, to help with my jazz improv.


    EDIT: I mean "from" a sax player.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I'm a real bad jazz soloist. Put me on lead and I'm fine, and I can read changes well enough to not be booed of the stage, but I'm a jazz listener much more than I'm a soloist. It was not uncommon to hear Kind of Blue on our stereo (Our rock band's amp and cubic meter sized Altec-Lansings) followed by The Rite of Spring back in my college days. Our neighbors hated us especially after our sound man/pyrotechnician set off flash pots outside their apartment one Halloween.

    I would suggest listening to a bunch of Sonata Allegro forms. The first movement of Mozart's symphonies fit the bill nicely. The dude played with the theme for minutes at a time with an ease that is uncanny. It wouldn't hurt to do some listening to Beethoven and Bach too.

    Point is, (to me anyway) a great solo grows.
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

    Oct 22, 2008
    Kudos to Vulgano Brother. Listening is good, no matter what type of player we are trying to become.

  8. fuzzyhaze

    fuzzyhaze Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 22, 2009
    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK
    Improvising is also (in some ways) about being a mimic. Being able to hear a tune or a riff and play it back or something that fits with it. Eric Dolphy copied bird song! Many jazz players chucked in nursery rhymes. I know many good improvisers who are not college taught, they learnt by playing and jamming. Many of them love TV commercial tunes and childrens programmes theme tunes. They take delight in being silly and playful. Many of them will sit and sing along to their favourite tunes. I can sing every solo on So What from A Kind Of Blue, so if I wanted to play those tunes I have it in my head, in my memory, no dots needed. I am not saying here that sight reading is good or bad, what I am saying is develop your ear and your imagination, in order to improvise you must have some idea what to improvise with - a collection of tunes, riffs, a pallette of sounds and colours to draw from. Improvisation is painting with sound.
  9. Lionelsax

    Lionelsax Mezzo Piano User

    May 8, 2013
    Improvising is easier than playing well, if you play well, it can be the easiest thing.
  10. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2005
    This sounds like the book about poetry that Robin Williams reads from and has the class tear up
    in 'Dead Poet's Society".


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