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David's Tip of the Day: Improvising - Focus Notes, Part 3

David Barrett Admin's picture

To sum up the concept and importance of focus notes...

1) Focus notes are the notes of your I7 Chord, G B D F if you're in 2nd Position on a C Harmonica. This gives you the hole numbers 1 2" 2 3 4 5 6+ 7 8 9 9+

2) It solves the question, "What do I play next?" Pick a focus note you haven't played and start your chorus... whatever comes out, comes out. You have licks in your vocabulary that start with that focus note, from the songs you've studied... trust that it will happen. If it doesn't happen, you need to study more songs to give you more vocabulary. It's also common if you're not "feeling it," that you haven't felt it before. In other words, you haven't studied a song with that groove. The answer? Make note of the groove and go through your music collection, scouring it for similar grooves and study those songs so that you develop a lick vocabulary for those grooves.

3) It solves the problem of over-using a range of the harmonica in your soloing. Once you play a focus note for a chorus, don't start another chorus with it... cross it off in your mind.

4) Lastly, it reveals weaknesses in your vocabulary. If you go to a 5 draw focus note and what you play is crappy time after time, it's time to start lick harvesting cool 5 draw licks from your recordings.