Deer In The Headlights?
One of my readers wrote to me recently with the following woeful tale:
“When it comes to improvising, it’s a bit like being a rabbit caught in the headlights.“
Have you ever felt like that?
You’re not alone:
I’m constantly astonished by how often people write to me with these kinds of sentiments.
There’s a simple reason why you might feel like this when you’re improvising.
If you feel like a deer caught in the headlights, or like improvisation is the equivalent of being a painter staring at a big blank canvas with no idea where to start…
You must be doing something wrong when it comes to practicing your jazz guitar.
You see, many people approach learning to improvise by using scales, modes, and arpeggios.
Whilst these are good to practice (don’t get me wrong), in and of themselves they won’t help you to sound like a jazz player.
A great sounding jazz solo requires something more…
If you haven’t learned these ‘words’ of jazz, you WON’T have any ‘raw material’ to start with.
In this situation, you DO, in fact, have a blank canvas with nowhere to go.
This is the thing a lot of jazz educators miss.
They shun the idea of learning licks and motives because they feel like it is not really ‘improvising’ per say.
Of course, when you’re at a very advanced level it’s good to “forget all that B.S. and just play” as Charlie Parker would say.
But for the beginner or intermediate player, you’ll be left confused and disappointed if you start out trying to solo with that mindset.
This is where I want you to turn your attention to in the woodshed:
Think melodically when you solo.
Jazz licks and motives are great for this approach.
All they are is short melodies, jam packed full of delicious jazzy goodness.
Soloing with melody in mind is the most rapid way to improve your soloing on the guitar and have it sound really musical and confident.
Now the exciting bit:
If you're keen to have a structured, step-by-step approach to learning jazz guitar, it might be worth checking out my online learning system, the FretDojo Jazz Guitar Academy.
Here's what you get when you join up:
- Detailed step-by-step video lessons on new classic jazz tunes and essential jazz guitar skills added to the club website each month. Includes listening recommendations, demonstrations of the melody, analysis of the harmony, and detailed explanations on how to solo over the tune.
- Key improvisation concepts and techniques for soloing, and classic licks and example solos that relate to each tune, so you can continue to expand your jazz vocabulary and have more options when it comes to soloing.
- Detailed comping ideas to suit the style of each jazz standard covered
- Lessons on how to make chord melody and solo jazz guitar versions of tunes featured - play a complete jazz standard completely on your own like Joe Pass!
- Members only forum - A worldwide community of jazz guitarists from all around the globe.
- Regular workshops, masterclasses, and Q & A Sessions - get direct answers from me on anything holding you back in the practice room. Replays of all sessions are available to access for all members even if you can’t make it live.
- Massive searchable database of jazz licks and soloing concepts - the ultimate idea "grab bag" for your solos.
- Optional monthly challenges where members participate to get feedback on their playing, reach new milestones and be eligible for cool prizes.
The best part:
You can access this all of this and more for just $1 by signing up to a 14 day trial. Go here for more info: https://www.fretdojo.com/signup-offer
Over to you:
What do you think of my reasoning here – that licks & motives is a better way to tackle improv then the scales/arpeggios/modal approach? Or do you think I’ve missed the mark here?
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below…
Founder, Fret Dojo
World Leader in Online Jazz Guitar Education