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It seems my main problem with improvising is following changes. My fingers know the scales, arpeggios, modes, etc, but it seems that my BRAIN doesn't. I look at the changes, and I don't understand what to play, even though I know that I know it and have gone over many exercises to know it. What can I do to get my mind closer to my fingers?
 

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SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
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This is muscle memory vs. actual knowledge. Your fingers are remembering the motions needed to complete a certain task...think of it in relation to correct typing. Most people who are competent typers can fly through a sentence easily. But..if you were to say "press only the K key"...most people would have to stop for a second and think...perhaps even look...to be able to do it. But they might be able to type "Kentucky" without thinking twice.

An easy way for you to get acquainted with the changes more is to listen. Find a great recording and listen to the tune over and over again. Go over the changes on paper and read them along with the recording. Get an Abersold Play-A-Long and listen to the changes. Play with the recording, using the changes. Also, I'd suggest playing them slowly...this helps it to sink into your ears.

Your best bet is to learn them from memory. Don't look at paper while playing the changes. This forces you to remember the changes, where they're located in the tune, etc. Combine this with listening a whole bunch and I think you'll do better.

Good luck!

Saxaholic
 
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