Maybe you have been there…maybe not. It is frustrating. Especially when you are in the moment and things have been going well up until that point. For whatever reason (and it could be a number of them) you have painted yourself into a corner with your improvisation. You realize the line that you are playing will not work. It could be the line wont fit the changes or it could be that you have started to wander.
At this point in time you have a critical choice to make as an improviser. There are two roads you can choose, but you have to make the decision quick because you are in the moment. Here are your options:
- The first is to try and play yourself out of the jam you have put yourself in. I will be honest, this can be fun and it can make an improvisation more exciting…when it works. The problem is that it does not work that often. This can actually increase the wandering effect. It is a vicious cycle. You wander to find something that works and you go further down the rabbit hole and wander some more. An effective improvisation is a conversation with the soloist,the rhythm section and the audience. Wandering is like the soloist speaking run-on sentences or constantly going on tangents that have nothing to do with the subject.
- In my opinion, the best option is to Let It Go. Stop playing the line as soon as you get to that point. End the statement at a logical point (sooner then later). Take a second to step back, breathe and start a new statement. Repeat this step as soon as you notice that you are going there again. If it happens too many times then you need more time with this chord progression.
I am not a psychologist, but there is something about our human wiring that wants to feel justified about a line we are playing. If it is not working out, we tend to feel like we need to work it out to protect our ego. If you had a chance to hear yourself in this process it does not sound good. However, when we drop our ego and let the line go you position yourself for a greater chance of success.
I hope you have enjoyed this tip and that it has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way! The JKQ is slowly making our way to getting our album Mountain, Move completed. We could still use your help, though. Stop by our Digital Store today and make a donation, purchase a book, schedule a clinic or Skype lesson. Every dollar gets us closer to our album release!