Saxophone Forum


by jazzplayer15
(27 posts)
9 years ago

To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

I can improvise at home when I'm by myself but when I'm at school, I can't improvise worth crap. At school when I improvise it doesn't sound good at all. How can I fix this?

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  1. by YanagisawA-901
    (312 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

    my guess is that you "suck" all around... ...this isnt a put down this is what i kno from past experiences so take the critisism with a grain of salt... what i mean is when u are home, (unless u play with play along tapes and stuff), u have nothing to base ur improv on.. ur just rattling off notes.. correct? thats a good way to improve your improv.. but then when u get with a whole band and a rythm section, its a lot different.. u need to worry about movement, and all that.. ur solo needs to make sense with the rest of the band.. thats probably why u feel as though ur good at home and not good with ur band. at home ur not interacting with a real band with real energy.. at school, u are.. so u need to feed off of what they are doing and vice versa.. id say take a solo at school.. do everything u can do get one.. it will help you grow

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    1. by connsaxman_jim
      (2336 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

      I'm going to say this a little nicer than YanagisawA901 did, but basically what he's saying is correct. Not the "you suck" part, but playing with a band is much different than improving at home. When playing with a band, listen to the rhythem section. Find the groove, and then follow the chord progressions. Your improv has to fit with the chord progression as well. There are many instructional DVDs on the market that are very helpful. Try playing along with some background music; either on the DVDs or your CDs.

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  2. by chiamac
    (586 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

    well before i go and say "you suck"... how good are you? can you play all the music no problems and stuff? Do you know scales and can you go though them all? Do you know what a II V I is? I do have two words of advice for you... Speech Class! (if you're having problems doing things infront of people)

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    1. by Sax_Shark
      (134 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

      Hey, I'm curious...what's the II V I? Is that the chord structure?

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      1. by JeremyA
        (28 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

        The II V I is how most phrases end. The II is the chord that starts on the second scale degree, the V is the chord that starts on the fifth scale degree, and the I is the chord that starts on the rot or the first scale degree.

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    2. by barimachine
      (323 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

      im going to go ahead and not say you suck im going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you have some knowledge maybe of blues thats all ill give you benefit of doubt for, for now. now when you play at home you play with tapes in a comfortable setting pros playing behind you. now in my personal experience i can tell you a big thing is how good is your rhythm section im going to go ahead and say not very as good high school rhythm sections are hard to come by. they are probably screwing up. also you may have different sets of changes and different keys then you are used to if you can get it from your director if you do not have them get the solo sheet or chord changes see where it should be going i know many a time in this setting i have been screwed over without changes on songs that are not what my director claims them to be(but thats a different issue) advice. 1. dont get down on yourself its not your fault alone its a very different setting 2. look at changes and keys try and find the strongest member of your rhythm section hopefully piano(for now) and listen to them follow the person who knows what there doing not the distractors 3. just keep practicing on relevant backgrounds at home

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      1. by saxophonik
        (73 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

        Hey barimachine, when you say that good high school rhythm sections are hard to come by, what are you basing that judgement on? I happen to come from a high school where, every year for about the past fifteen years, the rhythm sec. was by far the tightest, most organized, and all around most talented sec. in the jazz band. It was the SAXES that always needed the most sectional work. As for the topic at hand, here's another theory: Are you playing along with accompaniment CDs at home, or just jamming solo? If you're playing without CDs try jamming to the chord changes for your tunes from jazz band. If you ARE using CDs, are you playing along to similar music as your jazz band, or is it a different style? That could be one reason you're having a few troubles. If you have the program, try punching in the chords of your jazz band tunes into "Band in a Box" or any similar PC program. This will help you develope your ear to those chord structures. You can also ask the rhythm sec. players to meet with you for a while before or after rehearsal to help you go over the changes. Good Luck.

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        1. by barimachine
          (323 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

          im just saying i know in my case they are bad not the individuals but the section. im not basing it on that though well obviously a little but ive played with a bunch of high school rhythm sections and they are no way as good as pros who cradle and listen to you. they step on each others toes more and get in the way. Alot of it is most of the schools i know around me and in other areas we talk to on trips have multiple rhythm players that trade like 2 -3 maybe more drummers 2-3 guitar 2-3 bass and multiple pianists. the more combonations you have the less consistant they are going to be becuase they are all getting used to each other. I know some bands with like 5 guitarists and they just get in the way when they trade off. i wish we had a selective rhythm section but even so it would take alot of sectional work that we dont have time for for them to be better. this really applys in a school setting only. if they practice they would be better. such as im in a band or get in them that have selective members all playing together all the time they are high school. but they sound better and better as they go on because they adapt. but when you have to switch it gets hard. this has been my expirience and others that say even at the selective bands like a state and county band and other groups like that it takes good deals of time even to get the better members to start to mold also our sax section is traditionally a very good section after a month, rhythm last, trombones most steady and consistant(but you cant put them out front as much as you rely on sax and trumpet), trumpets we usually have an amazing 1st being dragged by the section

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      2. by Radjammin
        (255 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

        How can you suck at Improvising in High School? Everyone sucks at improvising in high school. Improvising is like level 20 in the easy to follow technical level chart. I suggest you play free improve during practice but try to work out a lick that sounds good to a particular song. Then work on another. Then try to understand why they sound good, like how they promote the melody of the song. Use that understand to fill in the rest of the solo. People are really only going to care at that level that you have 2 comprehensive statements in your solo. That shows true understanding of the focus of the song. Tring to spontaniously create a solo at your level is at the level of pointless. Plus thating that route it really won't sound good. Remember there is practicing and then there is performing. Theres nothing wrong with creating something before hand that sounds improvized. Do you know what the guy ment by ii V I? Most Jazz and esp. blue tends to lead to the tonal note of a song. So if the song is in G it tends to lead to the G scale. In other words the last measure of a section will probaby be a measure where you could play every note in the G scale and sounds fine. That explains the I in the ii V I. So what is the ii V? Well in G the 5th note of the scale is D or call the Dominant. Play D and then G a couple times. See how expected G is after the D? If you were to play a measure of the D Scale (C# F#) before a measure of the G scale it would sound good to your ears. If you were to make a prase that was made of notes in the D scale for a measure followed by a measure of a prase thatwas made of notes in the G scale it would sound good. What would really sound good would be a prase made of the D scale that connected to a measure of notes in the G scale. That's basically a lick. So what's the ii? Well pretty much the subdominat or the leading measure to the Dominant that is the leading measure to the tonic. See how Jazz really just cares about how you sound in the end? In the measure before the D try a pattern or phrase that is in the key of A (G#C#F#) Now you have a measure of A, a measure of D, and then a mesure of G. That's ii V I !! Some small changes, Play I for two measures at the end becuase music is made up of even measures and for every scale play the 7 Flat. For instance, play F Naturale in the G Scale, and G Natural in the A Scale. Rule of thumb in Jazz, always play the 7 Flat. Does that help any?

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      3. by straightj23
        (103 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

        It is all in your head dude. In our jazz band, we are given the choice to follow the written solo or to improv. But, we never improv on the spot. The director asks us to write our ideas down and choose. Sometimes, we have no choice. We played a song one year ago that had no written out solo for the alto. So, we had to write one out ourselves. When it comes to not being able to improv at school, you just need to get that fear of what other people may think of how you play. Come up with your idea, write it down on manuscript paper, and take it to your next practice. Above all, if you are really serious about playing music, take private lessons and you will get much needed help.

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        1. by saxs_make_it_happen
          (42 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: To Solo or Not to Solo, That is the question.

          I was jus replyin to say that yanagisawa is a dick for sayin that and then tryin to sound like a nice person. just wonderin, what grade u in? personally I think it's just that you're nervous around people and you dont want to mees up in fron of them and it actually does make u mess up. jus try to relax....think about what you've done at home.

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