Tips for improv?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Nealium, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Nealium

    Nealium New Friend

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    Hello, everyone. I'm a senior in high school and I've been attempting to get better at improv for a while (since freshman year). I feel like I'm finally starting to get the knack of it. Usually, I think of a lick and I'll play around with it for a while until I feel like the idea is getting stale, then I'll do a doodle or two and find a new lick. Repeat.

    There are a few things I want to ask. One, how can I get a bit more variety? I know that sounds very vague. I listen to a lot of Clifford Brown, some Miles, and a bit of Nat Adderly, but I can't seem to find enough spark of inspiration when I'm playing.

    Second, how do I get faster? I want to be able to bust out some fast Clifford Brown licks. I know it takes practice and a lot of work, but I don't really know what to practice. I know my standard scales inside and out, but I cant seem to apply them well enough to just doodle fast enough for my liking.

    Any ideas or suggestions are more than welcome.
     
  2. Msen

    Msen Piano User

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    I live in the Horn
    Let me tell you how I do things. I always found improve fun and easy in piano, drums and trumpet.

    I'll listen to music and find a music sheet of the licks I like. Play and alter them.
    I'll also play exotic scales that match the scale I should be playing, since the pentatonic scale can only get you to a certain point.
    Use effects like growling, half valves, alter fiingering.
    I found out that my back round in drumming helps a lot. I transfer what I know to the trumpet, parradiddles, triplets, mama dadas etc. You can google them for more details

    Keep in mind that insiration does not come at will. Something must happen to spark that feeling, which you then put in the horn.
    Sometimes I think of lyrics that describe a situation. "It's a sad sad woooooorld, without youuuuuuu", and then try to sing that with the trumpet.
    I always liked melodic playing more that a bunch of 16th notes played fast.

    Sometimes good ideas are hidden in excercises like lip slurs, for me at least.

    Finally, try to get in the mood. Listen to some music, have a drink, dim the lights, get comfortable, take off her clothes....., I mean take her out of the case, and play. You can't just say
    ok now I'll improvise and get something great. I'll also record stuff, cause sometimes I forget if I leave it for the next day

    For the speed part, you know what you have to do. Keep doing it until you reach that point. If you get there play even faster so the speed you want to reach becomes easier and more comfortable
     
  3. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

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    I like to try to do on trumpet what Steve Harris does on bass. Most of the time it's what other instruments are doing that make me say that would be way cooler on the horn. Sometimes it's a complete failure. '80's hair metal guitar always seems to inspire
     
  4. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    Nealium asks a great question (which I highlighted in his post). And I'm sure several people will provide good ideas. Here's my 2 cents.

    Nealium's current approach is to doodle on a lick, and when it gets stale, find a new lick. Tips like this have their place, and there's nothing wrong with them. But as Nealium has found out, these tips will only get you so far. And very soon, you hit a brick wall. The truth is that there are no "tips" for getting better at improv.

    To get better at improv, you need a methodical daily routine that focuses on improv. The major scale you learned are great. But you also need to focus on the jazz language. Your daily routine should include work on jazz scales, jazz patterns, jazz phrasing, transcriptions, and memorizing tunes. It should also include listening and playing with others.

    For me personally, when I got started, the main books I used were Aebersold vol's 1-3, Jerry Coker's Patterns for Jazz, and Dan Hearle's Scales for Jazz Improvization. I also took private jazz lessons with a saxophone teacher.

    So my answer is to find a good methodology to follow. And if you can, find a good jazz teacher (even once-a-month) to guide you through it.

    Mike
     
  5. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    I had a great teacher, Claudio Roditi that address this really well. He had me transpose solos. For the sake of variety, I chose to transpose sax solos rater than trumpet solos. Claudio LOVED that idea. It works well to expand vocabulary and to have runs in your vocabulary that are more like the line up on saxophone's key pad than irrational finger patterns on a three valved instrument.

    That's easy... LOTs and LOTs of coffee!!!
    No seriously, work patterns over and over and over and over and over (ok-you get the message) again. Get the patterns from your transpositions and then write them out and learn them in every key as Claudio had me do for my lessons. Or alternatively work and work through patterns in Arbans (or Clarks). That is what I have heard Arturo recommend in interviews he has given.

    Hope this all helps.
     
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

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    Oh my Dr. Mike, I do believe that would require antibiotics.
     
  7. TrumpetMD

    TrumpetMD Fortissimo User

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    Or maybe just a tetanus shot? :D

    Mike
     
  8. Nealium

    Nealium New Friend

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    Jan 9, 2015
    Thank you for the advice.

    So if I want to get faster, I should find a fast 4 bar lick and just woodshed until it's burned into my fingers?

    I have Arban's and Clarke. Just go through the scales section?

    Just to clarify, I don't mean literally get faster. I can memorize and play anything I really set my mind to, I just want to get that bebop style improv.
     
  9. Dennis78

    Dennis78 Fortissimo User

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    Find bebop tunes in written form in different keys and play until memorized. The reason for reading all that would to recognize the dynamics
     
  10. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

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    Dr.Mark
     

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