Learning to Improvise Music


in Composition, Methods

There are many methods promoted to help you in learning to improvise music.

The problem that we have is that most of these require you to have an understanding of music which may actually take you years to learn. Or they are focused in a way that made great sense to the author, but fail to connect with you at your point in time of development.

Different Ways of Learning to Improvise Music

Each of us as a different way of learning, so what works for one person in the ability to improvise your music doesn’t necessarily work for another person.  

Some can hear it, and those that have the ear for music are in this realm. Some need visual to see it, which at first seems counter intuitive to improvising, but if you’re a highly visual person like me then seeing a framework works for you. While we’re at it looks don’t forget the third sense where some people seem to feel it.

For me improvisation is what I do most with my time at the piano these days. Although I still enjoy working some of the pieces I’ve learned over the years I’ll always finish with some improvisation pieces or I’ll wind down a day with just an hour or so of playing around with ideas. So how did I get there?

We Ended Up Here When It Comes to Improvising

For many of us we initially started out playing around with our instruments experimenting with combinations of notes and chords or some types of runs of notes.

We didn’t know enough to properly make things work, but we still had some fun and created a few riffs of musical bliss.

Alas it really never went anywhere. We ended up studying music and learned what other did. We started to form a way to structure music yet we didn’t improvise on very much as our focus was on learning the songs and hopefully the music theory as well.

When you studied for many years and have learned the theory there comes a point where you have the tools to move into this new music area of creation. Learning to Improvise at this point takes a little more understanding of putting your music theory to work.

What You May Have To Do Next to Learn to Improvise

I’m a highly visual person and in many ways very structured. So seeing and putting things into a framework is how I’m able to move into a creative area. By using the frame work of Keys, scales and chords I’m able to define my realm of activity and then play within it.

As I’ve watched others play and learn to play I’ve seen this happen time and time again. It may be as simple as taking the same 3 notes of a scale and playing them in any order, repetition, and rhythm and seeing what you can do with them.

As we learn the keys, scales, and harmonic systems we set up a framework for being able to improvise. Sometimes it takes one thing to spark you’re movement forward.

For me it was scale application on chords and working in a harmonic system that the light bulb went off. After having learned the many aspects of music theory I had the tools I needed. I was even able to apply this knowledge up to a point.

When my mindset was changed I was able to start expanding what and leaning to improvise started getting easier and more natural.

Mastering Harmony Is the Road to Learning to Improvise Music   

For the typical piano and guitar lessons we study all the elements of defining harmony but don’t seem to take a direct approach to using it.

My new friend David Reed writes in his course Improvise for Real

To reach your full potential as a musician, improviser, composer and teacher of music, you will need to become a master of harmony.

This has sparked a new road for me to see where I can build on what I’ve achieved so far in my musical excursion into creative playing.

I wish I’d had this available to me and could add it into my early development of learning music. I’m thinking this would have also enabled me to focus on the creative parts as I learned the framework and structure.

Taking varied approaches to learning is what accelerates your path forward and this will be another way to help you expand your creative juices. Get more information about Improvise for Real with my extensive review here:  Learning to Improvise

Or you can pick it up with the jam tracks at Improvising Music for Real

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