Easy piano improv - the 4 minute jazz piano tutorial

by Bill on March 19, 2011

Here’s a piano tutorial I made this afternoon for fun, and to try to prove a point. The point is that improvisation can be very easy. Piano students often get terribly hung up about how difficult it must be to “make it up as you go along”…

The point, of course, is that when you improvise on the piano you are usually working within some sort of framework which has its own natural limits. That might be a chord progression, a rhythmic pattern, or a particular scale. Although you have a lot of discretion to improvise as you like, you don’t have complete freedom. And it’s that relative lack of freedom that you can exploit to come up with impressive improvisations.

The way I get people to start improvising is to begin with just one note and slowly build outwards, using an increasing number of notes from the blues scale – which is, of course, one of the most important scales in jazz. Of course, piano improvisation is much harder than improvisation on many other instruments simply because you need to play more than one note at a time. However, once you realise that fundamentally it isn’t some sort of witchcraft, it’s all just a case of practice and experimentation.

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