Improvisation as a daily routine

It does´t matter if you are into jazz or classical music, you still want to make MUSIC of your notes. And you should also make music in your practice room. A really good way to get some music into your daily routine, is to play free improvisation. Again, it does not matter what genre you play, as a matter of fact, if you are a non-improviser (or new to improvising), I would say that this is even more important and rewarding.

Here is what I want you to do:
Play a totally free improvisation for five minutes. Just play, and see where it takes you! Don´t worry about anything related to your instrument, bad sound, intonation or anything else. Just play.

“But I have never learned how to improvise!”
No problem. Here is the key:
1. You play a note.
2. You play another note.
3. Repeat step 1-2 for five minutes.
It really is that simple. You are not playing in front of an audience, or trying to impress your colleagues. Just let go, and focus on making music.

Or, you can choose to focus on a specific idea. Inspiration might not always be divine, so pick a subject and stick to it (or let go, remember it´s about improvising!). Here are a few ways to go about it:

  • Pick a key or a chord and dig into it, Cm dorian or Db7 or Fmaj7.
  • Focus on sounds. Go for a non-tonal impro and see what animals you can imitate. Or a steam locomotive or a concorde.
  • Pick a tempo- slow or fast. Or maybe a feel, straight 8th´s, latin or 12/8 and play random melodies in that mood.
  • Focus on a rhythmical or melodic pattern. See how it transforms during the five minutes.
  • Play a five minute mouthpiece-concerto in G# major. Or a two note samba. Or single string arpeggios.
  • Use sound altering devices such as mutes (for brass players) or pedals (for guitar/bass players).
  • Do all of the above within eight minutes!

Some people are most creative when they get a clean slate. Others need some structure to get going. You probably know what you need to get going. And then challenge yourself by doing the opposite.

Go make some music!