1. Can all of our students develop competency with improvisation, or just a few?
2. Do we feel successful, as teachers, when only 2 or 3 students can play a good improvised solo?
4. In our hearts do we secretly feel that improvisation is too hard for most students?
5. Do we thinks that improvisation is like Calculus...and that most students only need Algebra (making music from strict interpretation of music notation), with a gifted few going on to the more advanced math?
6. Do we think that improvisation is like broccoli, and that most students will find it distasteful, with only a few students enjoying it?
7. Do we truly believe that ALL children can improvise?
I say YES! But, it involves difficult concepts and difficult skills, and must be taught carefully and in a systematic, sequential way. Do most method books do this? No way. Most improvisation books say, "use this scale, or these patterns to improvise. Go!...Now use this scale, or these patterns to improvise. Go!" This approach does work with some students who have some inherent gifts or talents, but not with most.
The Improv Pathways jazz improvisation method was created by someone who didn't "get it" for many, many years, and who struggled through method after method trying to figure it out. That person, who is...me (are you surprised?), finally became a successful jazz improviser, and is painfully aware of each step that is needed to develop these skills. What was a hard road for me is now a delightful path for you and your students.
Improv Pathways makes it possible for you to get ALL of your jazz students improvising. No, they won't be blowing solos over Giant Steps at your final concert, but they will ALL be able to play improvised solos over the 3 chords of the blues progression, and will understand how to change the notes they use at each new chord, as well as how to utilize guide tones to create melodic improvised solos. They will also have dozens of great jazz patterns committed to muscle memory in all three keys, with a great sense of jazz style derived from listening to, and playing along with excellent models. After students have worked through Improv Pathways, it is an easy next step to learn about ii-V-I's and to begin working on more advanced chord progressions. Does it sound too good to be true? The curriculum was years in the making, and was developed through working with 5 different experimental groups of junior high jazz band students in a socioeconomically-disadvantaged area. It is tested and proven, and just might turn you into an amazing jazz improvisation teacher.
Orem Junior High