pacing exercises
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Pacing Exercises

Pacing Exercises

It has probably happened to you once or twice unless you are just starting out on your improvisation journey. That moment on the bandstand or in rehearsal and you know that you are over playing. I think it happens to a lot of people (if not all) at some point or another. This week I am going to give a few tips and exercises that are  short, simple and you can use right away to help your pacing. I would suggest practicing these first before attempting to use on a gig unless you are positive you can do them in real time.

  1. Play your initial line and then sing back the same line in your head before proceeding to play the next. This can help balance the playing/resting ratio. You will notice that depending on the line you could be starting your next phrase in a place you are not accustomed to which can create some interesting results.
  2. Play your initial line and count down from 5. This is similar to #1 that you are creating the space, but now you have 5 beats to make your next statement. Again, this can create some interesting moments because of where it forces you to start your next phrase.
  3. Play your initial line and count down from 5, then 4, then 3 and so on. This takes exercise #2 and decreases the resting space. After you pass 1 beat between phrases you can start the process over.

Try these out this week during your practice sessions and see what they do for your pacing and phrasing. I hope this has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way!

Do you need a line to practice this on? Here are 365 different ones!

If you need some help on creating your own lines, without having to learn hundreds of scales – you can visit my full method here.



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  1. Not sure I am clear on this. Ex1. Are you saying sing back the line that was just played -how long should that line be approx? And how quick do I start a new line. Also Ex2. Are you saying count down from5 after playing the line? Thanks. Great post!

    1. Hi George-

      You’ve got it. In Ex. 1 you sing your original line back in your head…then play your next line. The length is arbitrary and completely up to you and depends on how long your original line was.

      Ex. 2 count down from 5 then play your next line. It can be 5 beats or any arbitrary length of counting down from 5. This creates space between phrases that you may not typically create on your own.

      With all of these exercises, however, be sure to keep track of where you are at in the changes!

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