Tips/Pointers for teaching the kids to improvise

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    Tips/Pointers for teaching the kids to improvise

    New school year, new changes:
    • Child #1 is a 6th grader, but she's been asked to play piano with the 7th & 8th Grade Jazz band. She was impressed that the two guys that play bass and guitar would just start jamming and make stuff up. She did her first bit of improv by being given chords to play, but to improv the rhythm. In the past, when we've tried, it's been a full-stop, won't even try, failure. She was paralyzed by not knowing what to play. We tried the typical starting "rules":
      • Stick to the C-Major scale
      • You can repeat the note you're on, or go up or down one
      • Play an Alberti-Bass line with the left hand.
      • Just play the black keys with the right
      but made no traction
    • Child #2 (3rd Grade guitar player), has no problems "Rocking Out", but she'll just noodle. She's just started trying to repeat phrases, but it's mostly random notes.
    TLDR; One is too much structure. The other is too little.

    I'm not much help because I'm too similar to the oldest -- Too afraid of playing the "wrong" note. So, anything we do, I'll be learning along with them.

    One thing we tried previously was note/rhythm chips. They were poker chips with note names and 1 beat rhythms on them. So we'd pick one measure's worth of beats, and improv the notes, or pick 3 or four notes, and improv the rhythm. At that time, no dice from the oldest, and the youngest would do it, but it would be totally random outside of the constraint. Maybe it was the age/mindset?
    Last edited by ElRay; 09-18-2015 at 08:22 PM. Reason: Undoing autocorrect improv->improve
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