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January 6, 2014 at 10:06 am #34138
The fact that guitar is both a melodic and rhythmic instrument makes it an excellent medium for improvisation. Students can begin to create original solos with just 2 notes and 2 or 3 chords.
What improv lessons do you offer in your classes?
Lafayette High School
NAfME Council for Guitar EducationJanuary 8, 2014 at 9:30 am #34262
I start with with just the notes E, F, and G on the high string. I play a four-note pattern using only quarter notes and have the class echo. After getting comfortable with that, I’ll give the class a few moments to make up their own pattern. Then we just go around the room, first the “soloist” plays their pattern, then the whole class echoes it, next soloist, class echo, etc. When we get in the groove we can do it with no pauses at all and keep time. Sometimes, I’ll throw on a drum track (I use GarageBand on an iPad for that) and you can even have it generate some chords if you want. Later, we’ll add more strings, and pitches to the patterns and increase their length. I’ve found this to be a lot more effective then “here’s the pentatonic scale, go nuts.”January 8, 2014 at 11:52 am #34278
We use improvisation as an important teaching tool. We like to us a K.I.S.S. approach for soloing. (Keep It Simple Students) First we start with I play you repeat on “jazz” rhythms about a measure at a time. Next we move on to two measure calls then each student has to respond with and appropriate answer. Over all We use rhythm to drive solos making sure that can get a nice solo on one note. Once they can perform a competent solo using one note then we add in the lowered third and seventh scale degrees, and eventually on to the entire pentatonic/blues scale.January 8, 2014 at 11:57 am #34280
Starting small is an excellent way to teach improv. When presented with the entire scale, young soloists tend to drown in notes and ignore the rhythmic interest side of soloing. I start with just 2 notes and 2 measures. Students are then presented with the challenge of making 2 notes sound interesting and the balance between sound and silence. Young soloists are often afraid of silence. Our gut instinct is to fill up every single moment with sound. As student’s progress, we add 2 more notes and so on focusing on both rhythm and direction in a solo. As we go along, I will add little challenges such as, this solo has to end down or add an articulation such as a slide or bend. By semester end, most students can confidently and effectively play an 8 or 12 measure solo with both melodic and rhythmic interest.
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