Someone recently asked me “What is the best way to learn how to improvise music?” This is a GREAT question! Even as an experienced improviser, I find it helpful to come back to these basic questions. In fact, I was unprepared for the answer that popped into my head after reading the question:
“The best way to learn how to improvise music is any way that doesn’t involve self-criticism.”
Being able to sit down at the piano or keyboard and let the music effortlessly flow through your fingers is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. One of my students, who tried improvising after years of only playing from written scores, reported having an “overwhelming sense of freedom” the very first time she tried improvising.
Most of us aren’t so lucky. The more listening experience we have, the more acutely we know what ‘good’ music is. And our inner critic is constantly criticizing our honest efforts at spontaneously creating rhythms or melodies.
So what we need is an approach that lets us tame this inner critic, at least enough to allow our desire to learn predominate.
Here’s a short video I made to illustrate a few ways to get you started improvising. Have fun and good luck!
PS – I’d love to hear about any of your experiences in learning to improvise. Leave a comment below and we can all have a discussion about this important topic, and help each other!
Get my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration