Why is it useful to learn to improvise in a particular genre?

Learning to improvise in a particular style enables you to purposefully practice improvisation. You then develop and use your skills in other styles.

The point of learning to improvise in a particular style is that purposefully practicing improvisational skills provides a student with a foundation that can eventually open the way to improvisational freedom.

Once a student has learned to work within one style of music, he/she can transfer their improvisational skills to another style of music to some degree. Although the goal is to encourage originality and the expression of one's uniqueness through improvisation, it is true that the study of improvisation requires a good knowledge of the musical language and stylistic characteristics of the chosen musical genre

Nowadays, there are many textbooks for learning different styles of improvisation, especially jazz. Many jazz improvisation textbooks focus on learning the theory of a particular jazz style. Among the textbooks there are methods that focus on the ability to improvise in general, and those that are focused on the development of a particular aspect of improvisation, such as the systematic development of musical vocabulary, the systematic development of rhythmic variability, or the systematic development of listening and aural perception. Especially in jazz music education, there are many methods that have been didactically tested and are already very well established. We can say without hesitation that the pedagogy of improvisation is very heterogeneous. 

Designing content and curriculum for teaching improvisation in a certain style typically involves the following steps:

1. understanding musical language

Improvisation is based on an understanding of music theory and syntax, i. e., knowledge of the relationships between scales and chords and knowledge of musical forms.

2. knowledge of basic vocabulary

It is important that you acquire the basic vocabulary of musical patterns, phrases and forms of your chosen musical style.

3. knowledge of the repertoire

We often improvise over existing music. The source of learning material is usually a repertoire of pieces characteristic of the chosen style of music.

4. following a musical model

Learning is done by listening to and imitating the improvisations of a teacher, mentor, or other musical model. Improvisation instructions are usually given through notated improvisation exercises. 

5. systematic practice

We train our improvisation skills systematically through daily practice. 

Categories: music education, piano improvisation