Why I started Wind Improv

If you’ve been playing your instrument for any length of time now, and if you don’t live under a rock, you’re probably well aware of all kinds of websites out there that are geared toward teaching you to improvise on your wind instrument.

I’m primarily a sax player. And as a sax player, I’ve often been amazed at the number of saxophone websites that are out there teaching various aspects of playing different levels and styles of music.

Over the years, I’ve purchased and downloaded a number of these programs that are produced by some pretty phenomenal players. My thoughts about these programs come from evaluating their offerings with my own hard-earned money.

I’m sure that there are many people who have benefitted from some of the course offerings that are out there. But for my temperament and learning style, there have always been a number of things that jumped out at me with many of these courses. These things struck me as places where I think things can be done better.

Rather than naming names and courses and where I think they fall short, I’m instead going to highlight some of the things I’m trying to do in these courses. I’ve got a couple here and more on the way.

I think the courses you’ll be finding here are better for learning by ear for a number of reasons and they will prove to be the best value for the money.

1 – Exercises are written in the keys they are played rather than all written in C with accidentals.

It helps to have the exercises written in the keys you’re playing. There is a “thing” that happens in your brain as you practice where you associate the sounds with the fingerings and the fingerings with the notes of the scales for the key you’re playing.

If you’re reading notes in accidentals, that connection doesn’t happen the same way – your ear tells you one thing while your eye is telling you something else. You need to be reading in the key you’re playing.

This SHOULD be a no-brainer. If you’re learning note patterns or chord patterns on your instrument, it is SO MUCH more helpful to have the notes written in the proper key rather than marked up all over the place with all kinds of accidentals.

To do that well, part of what you need is to have parts written in the actual keys you’re playing in, rather than everything written in the key of C but with accidentals to put it into something that matches the key you’re playing in. You need to have this association running freely between ear, page and instrument.

For this reason, all exercises that are done for all 12 keys are written in those keys – so you associate those patterns on your fingers with the patterns your ear hears for those keys.

2 – Wind Improv exercises are developed with a mind for feeling the note patterns in rhythms.

It is marginally helpful to be working on runs of notes if you’re not feeling those notes in a musical context. Similar to learning a language, you don’t just need to learn the words; you also need to be able to use those words in a sentence. 

Wind Improv exercises and courses are rhythm oriented, so you don’t just hear the note intervals; you feel what those note intervals and rhythms can say as you’re practicing them so you learn to play and convey feelings.

3 – Wind Improv exercises are developed with a more “smooth jazz” feel than “bebop” feel.

Bebop is an important jazz concept and there are many great players out there. But for many people, bebop is almost more of an art form in that it is entertaining to hear and give you an appreciation for the technical prowess of the player.

If you’re a beginning soloist, you need to develop a good confidence that you can play music people will want to hear because they identify with the sounds and rhythms that are emotionally connective. This happens naturally when you learn to express what you feel on your instrument.

4 – Wind Improv isn’t about learning a lot of extensive theory about complex chord names. It’s about anticipating what you feel coming in the chords as they are played and following the feel.

There is a place for understanding music theory. And please understand that the goal with Wind Improv is not to ignore musical theory. It is more about growing into organically playing in line with what the theory would require of you; but in a way that it gets built “naturally” into your musical ability as you go.

This is about learning how to develop the mood that is in the chords but with a wind instrument that can only play one note at a time.

Check out the courses, and dive in!

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