Hows your improvisation coming along?

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    Mitch GraingerMitch Grainger

    Hi Guys,

    I’d like to hear how you are doing with your improvisation?!

    Whether you are giving it a go for the first time in Step 4.. or are in the intermediate (or advanced) course, starting to improvise with the blues? How’s it going?

    What were your breakthroughs, difficulties, successes.. do you need some help? or does anything else come to mind!

    Let’s discuss! πŸ™‚

    Paul JohnstonPaul Johnston

    I’ve put some timing with the Jam Track… Stargazing… I haven’t had any music training at all and needed help with the timing and thought that someone else might like it toooo?? What a fun song!!

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    AvatarBuzz Hughes

    hi mitch,

    i am finished with the advance course and still having a lot of trouble with improvising.

    i know my scales fairly well by memory(always room for improvement) but cant seem to turn the corner with any improvising.

    i can find notes when playing with jam tracks that sound good for sure, but i seem to have a lot of difficulty hearing any consistent melody or knowing where to go next in my Jam. i wonder if you have any suggestions? the improvs i like to listen to in my music arent very complicated most of the time, but i still have trouble making the leap from playing the scales to playing something i woudl like to hear.
    i guess i am ready to make some music but my improv skills are not well enough off to get there. any idea on how to practice to get better in this area?

    Mitch GraingerMitch Grainger

    Hi Buzz,

    Yes I do. Can you do me a favor and first try to improvise without the harmonica. Sounds crazy I know! πŸ˜‰ So.. I mean to see if you can hum ideas or ‘hear’ them in your head when you are not having to play the harmonica..

    Also, please have a go at the lick of the week, and let me know how that goes too..

    By knowing how you are with those two things we’ll be able to make a plan!



    Howdy Mitch and fellow harpers,

    Thanks for reaching out, Mitch, and getting us to interact more with the course. I am currently on step number 17. At first, the idea of improvising was a little mysterious because I didn’t know any licks, but I figured I would start from the beginning and just use it as an opportunity to practice my blues scale. Wow, this really took my playing to a whole new level. I started off just doing the train chug twice through and then throwing in a portion of the 2nd position blues scale…example train chug -2 to 6 train chug 6 to -2 …9 to -4 basically root notes to root notes. This was great because I started to learn how to hit the 6 or the 9 from a chug on the low end of the harmonica. This started to lead to repeating different parts of the scale and mixing it up and before I knew it..I was improvising!!! It was great because I didn’t think I knew how to. Thanks for the idea to just start with playing the scale. After this I started coming up with different chugs. These where much easier for me to come up with on my own and wow was it fun! The days of practice were over…it was all just fun now!!….Well at least that’s what I thought until I got to throat vibrato and blow bending:D actually I am joking because I am a total nerd when it comes to practicing these techniques. I love the challenge, keep it coming! Happy harpin to all of you



    Looking at the post of Shawn, i must admitt having likewise troubles πŸ€” lick of the week is helping a lot …… it can be also a confidence problem not able to know where i am or stand at this point with my playingπŸ€”
    I Keep on practising and time will tell …… so any plan is very welcome Mitch πŸ˜‰πŸ˜ŽπŸŽΆπŸŽΆ


    Hi Mitch and fellow harpers
    I’ve just made a small but it feels like significant step forward in the improvising. I got the idea from someone that I was watching on YouTube. What it is, is when you hear a neat riff from another musician, even from a completely different genre is to mimic it then re-work it until it becomes “your-own”, using the notes that make up the blues scale. Then when improvising work this newly moulded riff into a bluesy feel and during your improvisation you can keep coming back to it while improvising further. After a while of playing you seem to get a feel for what’s working and what’s not. It’s a great feeling when you gat a bit of rhythm going! Sometimes the newly moulded riff mutates into something that doesn’t resemble the original piece, but hey, that I guess is the beauty of discovery…

    It could be argued that this isn’t improvising when you’re copying from someone else and this would be a fair point! However, I found in reworking a piece that already sounds great it gets your creativity going and is cool to experiment with changing the note combinations while keeping the timing the same (or different). I found that this,, re-working, is where the magic seems to lie rather than in the mere copying.

    As in all forms of copying it’s only right that you give credit where credit is due…..

    Have a great weekend.


    AvatarDan Cassidy

    Hey Mitch…and everyone else!. I’m with Buzz – I’m in the mid 20’s for the course and am struggling with improv. I’m going to spend more time playing the blues scale within a chug (thanks for the tip, Shawn) and go through the lick of the week. I didn’t know those were there, so that looks like a great resource. Thanks for getting those up there Mitch. I think the main reason I’m not good with improv’ing yet is because I haven’t spent much time practicing it specifically, so I’m going to change that now.


    I am still listening to the jam tracks from session four (I’m only on sessions 7 and 8) while in the car, and practice on the ride to and form work. It is a lot of fun, but I definitely have a lot to practice still.

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