This post is the first part in a series about deliberate practice, structure and creativity.
- A Simple Exercise (Part 1)
- Exploring the Simple Exercise (Part 2)
- Deliberate Practice and Structured Activities (Part 3)
- Creativity and Structured Activities (Part 4)
- Three Reflections on Creativity (Part 5)
- Three Reflections on Structure (Part 6)
- Three More Reflections on Structure (Part 7)
- Structure and Education (Part 8 )
- Structure, Society and the Arts (Part (9)
- – - -
Sometimes, when students play for me, I hear that they’re not playing through the changes.
More specifically, they’re playing vertically, rather than horizontally or linearly. More specifically, suppose they’re playing this:
Rather than this:
The first example neglects the voice leading that’s inherent in the progression. The second example not only acknowledges the voice leading, but toys with it too.
I usually prescribe the following exercise, which at first seems easy, but my students come back next lesson so frustrated, they say they want to “strangle me.”
Check it out; here are the rules:
- Pick a tune. Preferably a blues to start.
- Left hand plays roots; right hand improvises.
- Rhythmically, you must improvise steady, constant 8th notes (no rests!).
- You’re only allowed to move by step (intervals of a 2nd), no repeating notes!
- Chord tones must land on all downbeats.
The be-bop scale is recommended because it helps determine the chord tones; but it’s not mandatory.
A chorus though the blues may look like this: