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Piano Improvisation - 4 Ways to a Fun Jam Session

April 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 153

1. Figure out what key you're playing in. If you're jamming out with just a drummer or percussionist then this won't apply to you since you will be in charge of the melodic portion of your jam. However, if you're playing with any other tuned instrument i.e. guitar, bass, horn etc. it's good to establish a key in which you guys will play in. This is a good way for beginners to sync and coordinate as to what key everyone will be in. For more professional players, one of the musicians might just start playing and the others will fall in and figure out what key the jam is in after a little poking and prodding. The best way to do this on the piano is to start playing notes of a scale and see if it matches the key the other players are playing in. Do this discreetly if you can. Start off by playing some quarter notes or half notes... remember you're just prodding a bit. Once you've figured it out, you can jump in the jam!

2. Start simple. Whenever I teach improvising, whether solo or with others, I always suggest that students start out with very simple articulations whether rhythmic or melodic, and then start building around that. By starting off on a simple note, you allow yourself to hear what you might create around it. If you come in blazing, sometimes you end up creating very nonsensical and run-on musical phrases that are not well structured. Even though the purpose of improvising is to veer away from structured playing, there still needs to be some structure for the unstructured.

3. Fill your niche. Another thing I emphasize while teaching piano improvisation is for students to find a pattern that they like and start repeating them in their improv pieces. This is like composition on the fly. When you're improvising, you'd rather create something structured than just soloing the whole time. It takes discipline and imagination to create patterns on the fly. This way, what you come up with can become part of the theme of your improvisational piece. This is especially important when playing with others as others will appreciate your contribution to the jam and will most likely "write" their own improvisational parts around it. A call and response type transaction with other musicians you are jamming with is always a good idea and a great place to start.

4. Leave some space for others to solo. If you do this, others will return the favor. Sit out every now and then and let another instrumentalist showcase their skills. They will in turn do the same thing and allow you to showcase yours. This is a good way to build respect and chemistry with the musicians you're playing with.

With these few tips, you will be on your way to some jamming good times.

Jason Johann Chang has played keyboards professionally since 2005 and has shared the stage and studio with members of George Clinton and P-funk, Fishbone, Sublime, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many others. He also runs a music school in Southern California which offers piano lessons and guitar lessons in Orange County. His very easy and intuitive eBook on piano improvisation is perfect for anyone who comes from a classical background and wants to learn the basics of improvising in a few short hours.

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Piano Improvisation


Fun Jam Session


Playing Keyboards


Playing In A Band


How To Improvise On Piano

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