White Key Improvisation (Improvising Part 3)

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I am so pleased to hear that some of you are doing a little improvising. It’s great to try something new, isn’t it? We need to keep pushing our creative boundaries in order to learn and grow. We don’t need to live there, but an occasional visit outside our comfort zone is a good thing.

Today I would like to offer another improvising exercise, this time on the white keys, in the key of A minor.

  • Start by playing and holding AEA in your left hand (an octave plus a 5th in the middle). Let your right dance around on the white keys. Since we are in A minor (no flats or sharps) every white key will work. You can start by playing 5-6 notes in a row, then change direction. Move up and down, skipping, stepping and jumping across the white keys, repeating your left hand AEA each time it fades.
  • Next, improvise to a slow steady tempo in 4/4 time, playing your left hand AEA on the first beat of each 4/4 measure. Keep your right hand simple so that you can keep the beat going.
  • Now I’d like you to try a chord progression. With your left hand practice playing these four chords as whole notes occurring on the first beat of each measure: AEA, CGC, GDG, DAD. Keep playing them holding each for four beats until you are comfortable with the jumps.
  • Next you will add improvised notes in the right hand on the white keys. If it’s too difficult to improvise while playing those four left hand chords, record them and improvise to the recording with your right hand alone. (If you own an iphone, you can record on your “voice memo” app that comes with the phone.) There are no wrong notes, all the white keys work!

Once you have gotten comfortable playing on the white keys, you can play to my recording below. I am playing fairly fast 4-beat chords with a popular-style rhythm to which you can improvise on the white keys.

Experiment with various note lengths–quarters, eighths–and repeating any phrases that you like. There is a lot of repetition in the chords, so feel free to use repetition in your improvisation.

For those of you who like a written representation of the chord progressions I’m using, here’s a “lead sheet” for you:

White Key Improvisation

2015 © UpperHandsPiano.com

Am    C    G    Dm7

Am    C    G    (G)                                                                                                                              

 Am    C    G    Dm7                                                                                                                         

Am    C    G    (G)                                                                                                                          

Fmaj7   G   Am  Cmaj7   G   Dm7   Am9   (Am9)                                                                      

Fmaj7   G   Am  Cmaj7   G   Dm7   Am9   (Am9)    (repeat whole section)

bridge:  F/A   F/A    Am9    Am9    F/A    F/A    Am9    Am9    F/A   F/A   Am9    Am9   F/A    F/A

Fmaj7   G   Am  Cmaj7   G   Dm7   Am9   (Am9)                                                                         

Fmaj7   G   Am  Cmaj7   G   Dm7   Am9    

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin said,

It’s just a chord or riff that inspires me and then I go on and see how it goes color-wise. The whole thing just grows like an acorn…

I hope you get inspired!

With love and music, Gaili

 

 

8 Replies to “White Key Improvisation (Improvising Part 3)”

    1. Thanks Gaili, I’ve been doodling some more and now I am going to try these Chord progressions in the L. Hand.
      Have you heard of Bill Evans? He is another Jazz Phenom. I love his playing as well. I have some sheet music by him. Some of my students love it. Best Aimee

  1. Good morning Gaili, I played around with the chord and the R.Hand improve. you wrote down and it actually sounded like Jazz. Are you familiar with the book Jazz Czerny? Aimee Krol

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