Skip to main content

You’re playing all night

David Barrett Admin's picture

Students that come to me to study improvising commonly say that they feel that they’re good players, but when playing a couple times around the form they run out of ideas. The issue is that players commonly have enough vocabulary, but they’re using up all of their ideas too quickly. I teach them how to use phrasing (how the repetition of a lick within a twelve-bar section is important for developing a memorable solo) and to understand that soloing is not all about fireworks, it’s about telling a story.

Part of the issue is that we all want to get over, and playing fast and throwing out a gazillion licks is commonly how it’s approached, but this leads to the problem of running out of ideas quickly. In my workshops I jokingly tell my students that when they go out that night to have drinks to stop by the local tattoo parlor on the way back to get a tattoo on their finger that says, “You’re playing all night.” Every time they raise their hands to play they’ll be reminded that they have the night to say what they have to say. Whether they actually have all night or not (sometimes we’re called up to sit in for only one song), the end result is a more musical performance, one that would surpass any over-played solo, any day.

Evidently Jan Dalemans was listening!