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Lesson 16: Basic Improvisation Exercises Part 3

Continuing to build on your improvisation skills, this lesson introduces a slightly more complex challenge. In the final bar of each exercise, you’ll now have the opportunity to improvise three quarter notes. This addition allows for more creativity and variation in your playing.

Approaching the Exercise:

  1. Three-Note Improvisation: In the last bar of each exercise, instead of one or two notes, you’re now going to improvise using three quarter notes. You can choose any notes from the first five notes of the A minor scale (A B C D E).
  2. Focus on Rhythm: Ensure that your improvised notes fit within the rhythm of the bar. Each of the three notes should be played as quarter notes, maintaining the tempo and beat of the exercise.
  3. Smooth Transition: As with the previous exercises, it’s important to keep the transition from the improvised section back to the first bar smooth and seamless. Try to maintain the flow as you loop back to the start of the exercise.
  4. Concluding the Exercise: Finish off by playing an A note in both hands, bringing a sense of closure to your improvisation.

Video Guide: Watch the video for a demonstration of how this can be done. While the video will give you a starting point, the real magic happens when you explore and create your own combinations of notes.

Exploring Your Creativity: This stage of the exercises is all about exploring different rhythmic and melodic possibilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various combinations of the A minor scale notes. Remember, there’s no right or wrong in improvisation – it’s all about expressing yourself and having fun with the music.

Common Mistake in Basic Improvisation Exercises: Overemphasis on Music Theory

The Misconception: A common problem faced by students during this exercise is the belief that a deep understanding of music theory is essential to choose the 'right' note for improvisation. This belief can come from a fear of playing the 'wrong' note or creating disharmony.

Personal Experience: This reminds me of my own journey. I spent years delving into music theory with the same concern, believing that more theoretical knowledge was the key to better improvisation. But no matter how much knowledge I acquired, the hesitation in improvisation remained the same.

The Realization: Improvisation is About Experimentation, Not Perfection

Theory Isn’t Everything: While music theory can explain every note and its relationships, it's not a prerequisite to being a good improviser. Improvisation is about trying out different notes and seeing what you like – it’s about experimenting and having fun with the music.

Just Play: The most effective way to improve at improvisation is to simply do it. Experiment by playing any of the first 5 notes of the A minor scale (A B C D E) along with the exercise. Remember, there's no right or wrong note here – it's all about what pleases your ear. And remember, being overly critical of your choices, even the good ones, is a common trap. Allow yourself the freedom to explore without self-judgment.

Enjoy Every Note: Embrace each note you play, free from the constraints of theory. This approach not only fosters creativity but also enhances your enjoyment of playing music. When you start to appreciate every note, regardless of its theoretical correctness, you open up a world of creative possibilities and find more joy in your musical journey.