3 Blues Improvisation Ideas

blues improvisationWant to improve your blues improvisation? You’ve come to the right place.

In today’s video I’m going to show you 3 ideas you can use to make your blues improvisation more interesting.

If you’re stuck only running up & down the blues scale & want more ideas to add in your blues improvisation bag of tricks you will enjoy this lesson.

Quick Blues Improvisation Ideas Video

Take 3 minutes and watch this video. Hearing these moves is critical! Then, scroll down to learn more about the 3 techniques talked about in this video. 

Important Blues Improvisation Concept 1

Usually the first place you would start when learning how to improvise over the blues is the blues scale.

The blues scale is easy to play because it’s only 6 notes. 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, and b7 in any key.

And it’s often times a good place to start because  as long as you play the blues scale of the key you’re in you, you’ll hit all right notes.

blues improvisation

It’s a simple starting point but there are some warnings that you need to know when it comes to this scale…

A Big Problem With This Scale Approach

blues improvisationI love the blues scale as much as anybody but often times beginning blues improvisers will overuse this scale.

And to make matters even worse, beginners often times just run up an down the scale without trying to get real musical ideas out of the scale.

(To see what I mean by that, watch the beginning of the video where I demonstrate how boxy that can sound).

Yes, this approach works and technically you’re hitting all “right notes” but there is a lot more ideas and flavors you can bring to the blues.

Crafty Musicians Create Melodies

blues improvisationJust like with any style of music, it’s critical in blues that you create melodies and play musically.

Just running up and down scales usually bores an audience. You don’t want your playing to be boring right?

You see, the blues is one of those forms that you can honestly do a thousand things with. So, if you are going to use the blues scale make sure you create little melodies and motives with it. Connect with your listeners!

Better yet, also decorate it with the next concept I talk about in the video…

Important Blues Improvisation Concept 2

blues improvisationSo, one fantastic way of decorating the blues scale is to use something called drone notes or double stops.

This is a sound that all great blues pianists use in their blues licks and blues improvisation.

In fact, lots of the licks that Hall Of Fame blues pianist Bruce Katz teaches in the Breakthrough Blues Method go deep into this amazing sound.

There are dozens of ways to do this but let me show you an easy one.

How To Use Drone Notes For More Interesting Blues Improvisation

Essentially, you harmonize individual blues melody notes with the tonic of the key above.

For example, lets say we were in the key of C and you play the notes C Eb, F, G.

You could sweeten up that sound by playing a C on top of all those notes.

So, it would sound like this. Here’s a video right from the Breakthrough Blues Method where Bruce shows you this concept:

Important Blues Improvisation Concept 3

Now, one of my favorite approaches to blues improvisation is to mix jazz improvisation ideas into my blues.

blues improvisationI’ve always been a huge fan of players like Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly, Barry Harris, Charlie Parker, and Gene Harris. They brought all kinds of swing and bebop ideas into their blues.

In fact, when I studied with Bruce he encouraged me to start transcribing what those players were doing at the piano.

That’s when everything in my blues improvisation started to change for the better!

Using Jazz In Your Blues Improvisation

When you improvise with only the blues scale you’re using more of a horizontal or scalar approach blues improvisation.

By bringing more jazz ideas in, you’re essentially using a more chord tone or vertical approach to improvisation.

blues improvisationEssentially, I’m playing key chord tone notes and special chromatic passing notes just at the right time to create a sense of tension and release.

Knowing how to use chromatic tension and release tools like this can do amazing things for your playing.

That’s why we cover dozens of powerful chromatic passing techniques as played by the jazz legends inside the Jazz Masters Method program.

How To Improvise With Different Melodic Flavors

blues improvisationAnd as I show you in the video above, when you start mixing in blues licks with jazz licks into your improvisation it adds a beautiful blend of different sounds and textures.

Can you  hear how when I play a more bluesy idea and then go into a jazzy bebop idea, and then I come back into the blues it creates this really nice sort of call and response technique?

I highly encourage you to do the same. Audiences really respond to this sound!

By the way, if you want to learn those big octave licks and chords I play in the video at 3:23, we have a whole chapter on them inside the Breakthrough Blues Method.

The Next Steps For Better Blues Improvisation

There’s just so many different ideas you can use in your blues improvisation.

From blues scale, to blues licks, to double stop shapes, to bebop lines, to chromatic tension and release concepts, to side stepping, to upper structure pentatonics.

There’s so many cool things that you can do with the blues. We really just kind of scratched the surface here. It’s such a beautiful art form.

blues improvisationIf you want to learn more of these blues improvisation techniques and all the different things you can do with the blues, I highly recommend that you pick up the Breakthrough Blues Piano Method.

Hall of fame pianist Bruce Katz and I sat down and put years of the blues discoveries we made into a powerful course.

Bruce sits down and just teaches years and years of all the amazing stuff he’s learned as far as blues piano goes. Highly recommended course

. You can get access to the Breakthrough Blues Method right here.

So, enjoy your practicing on these blues improvisation concepts.Do you have questions on today’s lesson? Have questions blues? Anything else you want to talk about? Speak your mind and would love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below. Happy to help!