One of the fastest ways to master jazz improvisation is to start with one scale in one key and really learn to hear all the melodies and patterns in the scale.
You don’t need worry about all the other keys in the beginning. Yes, of course eventually you will need to learn them to really be fluent as an improviser. In the beginning though, you need to eliminate as much theory and thinking as possible. As you will see below, your brain and body can do amazing things if you don’t over think what you’re trying to train it to do.
Many people, myself included in the beginning, think that they can’t improvise because they don’t know enough scales and harmonic knowledge. That kind of thinking will just hold you back. Jazz improvisation is most quickly learned “by ear”. Listening to other saxophone players that you like and learning to HEAR the lines they are playing is how almost all of the great jazz musicians from the beginning of jazz up until the 1960’s learned how to improvise. In the 50’s and 60’s many great jazz teachers took up residency in the various colleges and began writing books on it. But the best improvisers learned by ear. Too much theory slows down the process.
If you want to see proof of how you can learn much faster by ear, just check out this video. In it, these students have never played the saxophone before starting the method, they learned how to get a decent sound and learned only minimal reading. The method teaches you how to master one scale in one key so that your brain doesn’t get overloaded. The next step is to memorize 6 simple approach note pairs that resolve to target notes in each chord on a simple blues progression. There are many teachers who teach the blues scale and have their students learn a few licks or just let them wander around, but this method absolute teaches you to hear the chord changes and know exactly where you are at all times. Just take a listen to these students and notice how they are hitting all the chord changes. They are not reading anything except the chord symbols.
Their are no tricks in the method. Just a straight forward system of teaching that eliminates reading and theory and just trains your ear properly. And it’s not a dead end. It’s only the beginning of training your ear so that you can continue to build on the foundation that it lays.
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