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The best way to learn improvisation is to improvise.

I guess its ok to practice on


your own or with a backing track, but thats just not as much fun as playing with
real people. I think the best and most fun way to learn to improvise is to play
with people who are supportive of you who encourage you to take risks and make
mistakes and wont look sideways at you when they dont think youre doing anything
interesting.

The key, then, is finding people to play with. This requires organizing skills more
than playing skills. Unfortunately, rounding up musicians is often harder than
herding cats. Still, I encourage you to put yourself out there. Talk about finding
people to play with everywhere you go. Talk to friends and strangers. Talk to
colleagues and family members. There are musicians everywhere, dying to play, but
because of the mental issues that often lead to becoming a jazz musician, they
isolate themselves and are afraid to reach out.

Ive started doing improvisational music workshops at psychiatric rehabilitation


facilities. I tell everyone that I came to this because when I got sick (later
diagnosed with bipolar disorder), the only thing that ever helped me get relief
from the relentless darkness of depression was jamming with other musicians. It was
like taking Tylenol when you have a headache. It helped for a little while, and the
relief was a respite, but not a cure.

Anyway, today I gave a workshop at a facility, and at least three people told me
they were musicians (mostly guitarists) who wanted to play. Then on the street, on
my way back to a car, someone thought he recognized me, and in talking to him, it
turned out he was bipolar, a guitarist and homeless. Boom. Just like that.

Doing these workshops opens me up, but it seems to make me more open to connecting
with musicians. Its like random strangers can see who I am, somehow.

Theyre out there people who want to play. Put out the news that you are looking
for people to jam with, and they will show up not right away, but if you keep
plugging, maybe after a few months. Then, you start playing together and supporting
each other and creating a safe space where you can try things and make mistakes and
people wont beat you up for it, and you wont beat yourself up for it. Its all
about confidence, and that means feeling safe.

Sure, you can practice your ass off. Learn all the scales. Learn all the arpeggios.
Listen to lots of jazz. Get ideas about what you want to do. Try to do that stuff.
But in the end, jazz is about connecting to other musicians; knowing them musically
as well as you know yourself. Its about deep listening. Its about being generous
and supporting everyone else. Its about earning your solo time by supporting
others. When people feel that generosity, they return it. And thats when the
exciting joy of musical connection is its best.

So dont worry so much about becoming good enough. Worry about getting people
together. The more you play, the better you get, and if you can do it without all
the self doubt about whether you are good enough, it becomes so much easier.

By David Ford, Teaches improvisational music and dance

Connor Mark, seven years playing, cannot play due to jaw disorder.
Answered Jun 26, 2016
Well firstly, do not go all in and dont worry about knowing all 12 major, minor,
blues, major pentatonic, minor pentatonic scales. Take your time! One Note Samba is
a thing for a reason; you can improvise with a single note. After that, youll want
to add a couple more notes either on a blues scale or a minor scale. Do not rush
into new scales until you have a decent grasp on previous ones, of course. Also,
focus on rhythm mostly and dont go too quickly. The average listener is not going
to want to hear 8th or 16th note scales. Those are pretty boring to be honest.

Id also suggest getting some formal instruction. Go to a jazz camp or find a group
of people with whom you can jam. Even take lessons (solo lessons and group lessons
are both useful in their own ways).

As for good blues to know Autumn Leaves is a classic and is good for soloing.
Cantaloupe Island is also really popular (and for a good reason). When the Saints
Go Marching In is also a classic. Stick to the popular tracks when you start since
theyre more commonly played. Good luck!

Liam Xavier Arduino, tubist, pianist, guitarist, bassist, percussionist, singer,


anything really
Answered Jun 25, 2016
Okay, quick disclaimer: I don't play the trumpet. But I do play tuba and euphonium,
and pretty damn well if I do say so myself, so I think I can answer this fairly
accurately.

With brass instruments, especially those with valves, what will allow you to do
anything with the instrument is to play scales. Know your scales. Know all twelve
of them, know the fingerings and alternate fingerings by heart, drill it into your
mind, practice scales, arpeggios, chromatics, whenever you can. Because ignoring
the hardship that is a trumpet embouchure (i.e. what your mouth is doing), you can
practice air trumpet like you can air piano.

Granted, like any sort of practicing, it's gonna take awhile, especially in the
beginning, especially with trumpet, just to get down breath support, just to get a
good sound to come through the horn. But brass instruments are definitely worth
learning, and the trumpet, while not my favourite, is a damn fine instrument when
you do it right. I wish you the best of luck with this. And if you have further
questions, with any luck I've got answers.
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Russ Hutto
Russ Hutto, studied Music Composition & Music Theory
Answered Jun 26, 2016
Spend lots of time doing it. No shortcuts.

Search for improv lessons on Google. Play along with jazz vids on YouTube. Sit in,
if possible, on jam sessions.

Scales. Scales. Scales.

But more so learn theory. Patterns. Memorizing scales is good, but search for blues
and/or jazz riffs. Learn WHY they sound the way they do (break down the intervals).
And then begin to build a repertoire of jazz licks.