Posted by: Reginald Cyntje | November 23, 2014

Stepping Stones: 15 studies in improvisation

Stepping_Stones_Cover_for_Kindle Over the course of 20 years, I’ve had a variety of students come to me seeking advice on how to approach improvisation. At times, students ask for hip licks to play over chord changes. My response to students seeking licks has always been to take a musical approach when constructing solos.

I’ve studied with great musicians throughout my career. One lesson that stuck with me revolved around concentration.  In my studies, I’ve discovered that solos by master musicians have well-constructed beginnings.

The exercises in this collection are one or two choruses in length. Each exercise explores a concept. The next exercise builds on the concepts previously examined and adds a new concept to digest. I like to call these concepts Stepping Stones.

The following exercises are not meant to replace learning standards, transcribing solos, listening or exploring the art of spontaneous composition. The exercises are tools that should be used to develop spontaneous improvisations.

Each exercise should be played at various tempos. First, play the exercise unaccompanied. When the student is finished playing through the exercise confidently, they should continue soloing over the chord changes building on ideas from the exercise.

After gaining an understanding of the harmonic movement, perform with a live rhythm section.

Discovery is a major part of education. Explore the content within and use it as a springboard for new possibilities.

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