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How to Improvise

Learn how to improvise in this keyboard tutorial from Howcast.


Hi, this is Stephanie Sanders from Tomato's House of Rock, and I'm going to give you some tips for improvising. Improvising really opens up your imagination, to take you wherever you want to take your audience, take the other musicians that you're playing with. It's so open, you can really take it anywhere which can sometimes feel a little overwhelming or intimidating.

One tip I really like to start with, especially if you're really just beginning with the idea of soloing is, try just using one note which I know sounds crazy but you'll actually find there is a lot you can do with one note and that sometimes limitations can actually be extremely liberating. If we think about one note, we can really think about the rhythm of what we want to do with this one note. For instance, if I'm in the key of A minor, maybe I want to choose C to be my one note that I'm going to apply. I might have a solo that might be..

Just right there I got to say a lot and it was just with one note. Try that, start with one note, if one note feels good, maybe bring it up to two notes which again, you're going to have even more options suddenly now... and you can keep going on from there. I would say try this exercise all the way up to four notes. Once you're at four notes then it's really fun to just open it up and try anything. Go from there, because once you've had those limitations a lot of ideas are going to start to build up in your mind and then when you finally do allow yourself to go off, you'll see you have a lot of inspiration, a lot of ideas to work with.

Another tip, when you're thinking about taking your solo is to think about it as a story. That means you're going to want to have a beginning, middle and an end. Hopefully if you're really thinking about the momentum, it has that place that it starts out and then it rises up to its peak just before the ending and you bring it back down again. To keep that idea of energy and emotion as your meter for your solo, it'll really give you some nice places to go. Just a small example, again I'll be in my A minor pentatonic here, I'm going to have a starting place, maybe something just very simple and slow, that would be my starting place.

The middle, I want to go away a little I want to get a little bit more interesting so now maybe.. Now the story is going somewhere, now I'm going to want to the point where I'm really getting up near the top. Now we're going to bring it back down to close it for that ending. If you're feeling like challenging yourself, if you can remember what your beginning idea was, if you can bring the solo back to something similar to that original idea, it can really tie together the solo nicely.

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