From Scales to Improv Lesson



“I’ve learned my scales…Now what do I do with them???”

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. This is a question I hear from many of my own students. They’ve been practicing their scales and arpeggios but can’t seem to make the transition to soloing or improvising over chord changes with these scales. They know the scales but have no idea how to use them, much less, how to use them correctly.

This lesson will address this common sticking point. I show you how to take the scales that you’ve learned and create great lines and solos that sound logical and musical over the chord changes. I demonstrate how to do this over ii-V7-I chord sequences in both Major and Minor. I show you which notes of the scale sound good over each of the chords. I show you how to create lines that utilize the all important concept of emphasizing chord tones on the downbeats. This is an idea that all the great players have learned to do to the point where it becomes almost automatic. You can learn to do this too and by using this idea, your lines will immediately sound more mature, logical and musical.

I also demonstrate and explain how to resolve your lines to the chord tones so that your improvised phrases sound complete and definite rather than unfinished and uncertain. By learning to resolve your phrases you’ll start to sound like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going.

I teach you how to write out your own lines to practice so that you can really get these concepts down and start to have these ideas become a natural part of your playing. I discuss analyzing the solo transcriptions of the masters where you’ll see these same ideas used time and time again. From swing to bebop, the placing of the chord tones on the strong beats is what makes the solos of the great players sound so great.

This lesson comes with a PDF sheet containing several ii-V7-I lines which demonstrate these ideas in both Major and Minor. I play these lines on the tenor sax so you can hear how these ideas work. I also demonstrate and explain where many new improvisers go wrong and why just playing any old scale tone over a chord can often sound terrible even though the notes might belong to the “correct” scale for the chord they are played over.

What makes this lesson so important for beginning and intermediate improvisers, is that once you know where you’re going wrong and why, and have a firm grasp of the right way to play your scales over chord changes, you can begin to play with more purpose and conviction. Soon you’ll train you ears and fingers to discern these concepts automatically as you solo. Once you get this down, your solos will immediately sound more professional.

This lesson provides a logical and methodical way for you to take that essential progression from knowing your scales, to knowing how to improvise confidently with them.  (22 Minute Audio Lesson & PDF)


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