So, what can we do? Here are some ideas:
1. Play first, and explain later (sound before sight)
3. Avoid transposition confusion by using numbers (3rd of the IV Chord) instead of note names (G for some instruments, A for others, and E for yet others)
4. Use call-and-response exercises to teach them useful jazz patterns in each key rather than telling them what notes they can use in each scale
5. Develop ear-to-hand coordination AND muscle memory through repeating each set of patterns for 3-5 rehearsals before moving on to the next. This offers a continually optimal level of complexity, which means it feels enjoyably challenging to the students.
6.Choose jazz charts that have solo sections which utilize the chords the students have learned to improvise with, so they can confidently demonstrate what they CAN do in performances. All too commonly, the keys and chords of the songs students end up playing in concerts don't correlate with the improv work they have done in class..
7. Teach improvisation by modeling it for the students! They've got to see that you are passionate about it, and can do it to some degree.
There are plenty more worthwhile ideas out there, but these 7 ideas would go a long way towards helping your students get going with jazz improvisation. If you'd like a set of books and recordings that incorporates all these and more, consider using the Improv Pathways jazz improvisation method. It is easily incorporated into your regular jazz band rehearsals, and makes you, the teacher, look like a jazz improv superstar to the students. It is engaging, active, and concise enough to be completed in 4 months, with only 1 Lesson per week.