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I'm trying to figure out what I can do to improve my technique and improvising? A lot my improvise stuff is repetitive, do i'm trying to get some stuff to help change that. I want to be able to create unique melodies each time I play a song whether it be with a band or prerecorded track?
 

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Try practising painfully slowly, so that you have time to actively think about each note before you play it. That is, you're consciously choosing each note, rather than just letting your fingers go somewhere habitually. Also, try to hear each note before you play it. You could try fingering notes, but singing rather than blowing, checking that you've got the right pitch still every once in a while. Lots of guitar players, bassists and pianists do that all the time, for that reason.

I'm in the same boat as you, I have to admit, but these are some of the things I'm trying to do to progress.

I think also playing guide tones and other exercises which give you a feel for the harmony are very helpful. So you always know the core sound that you're going for at every point, and the rest of the notes are just embellishments of that.

Don't worry about going too slowly - you need to lay down good tracks in your brain, and that requires slow practice. Of course, mix in some practice at normal tempos, but it's when you're making deliberate, conscious choices that you're actually learning and expanding your possibilities.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2011
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I agree with Lindsay about the slow practice. I'd suggest you use this approach with a metronome rather than with play-alongs when you are learning the changes to a tune. If you feel you are playing the same ideas over and over, it's probably because you are practicing things the same way over and over. Try practicing the chords to a tune one at a time, then perhaps tonality by tonality, looking for different angles to approach them from. This may be as simple as changing target tones or starting points on chords. Another approach is to create rhythmic templates which you play through the changes- try being creative in assembling 1 and 2 bar rhythms. Either way, getting to know your chords better and developing a strong sense of rhythm help you develop fluency with an expanding vocabulary that will ultimately lead to a freer sense of creativity.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson: Shaping the Blues Scale
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Podcast Samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/saxtrax
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2007
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You could try fingering notes, but singing rather than blowing, checking that you've got the right pitch still every once in a while. Lots of guitar players, bassists and pianists do that all the time, for that reason.
What a great idea. Gotta try that.
And a side note: The OP's tendency to be repetitive could be because he is improvising over the chords, not the melody.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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One thing that can really help a lot of people who get in this rut is to get involved in some free form playing. I'm not saying to abandon the exercises, theory, patterns and mainstream stuff, but to pursue other avenues at the same time time.

Whether it's getting involved in playing with free ensembles or just doing a lot of listening to the way people like Ornette Coleman used melody. Once you free yourself up from having to fit licks and scales to chords, you can then use your ears more easily to hear how purely melodic improvising, ie just making stuff up without thinking about it, can actually be fitted into (or over) chord sequences and be used along with the more conventional harmonic approach.

I would also embrace this philosophy when working on technique. Don't just stick to the licks and exercises you get in books (even mine :) ) but look for patterns or licks that you haven't found in books or heard people play. Even if they seem a bit random or contrived.

One method I once set myself was to see if I could improvise only using two or three intervals. e.g. semitones and flat fifths, major and minor thirds etc. It gets your brain onto a different way of thinking about music and whether you end up using those techniques in your soloing is irrelevant: as an exercise it is a way to get your mind out of the rut of churning out the same old stuff and repeating yourself.
 
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