I like to write. Tell me to sit and write anything I want to and I’m hamstrung. But give me a writing prompt and I dive right in. I feel the same way about free piano improvisation. If I sit at the piano and play anything I want to how will I know if it’s any good? What am I supposed to be listening for? And as a teacher, how can I teach students to improvise over a chord progression if I’m not clear on exactly how to do it myself?
I came across this video by Dave Spicer from Brisbane, Australia. He is the director of the School of Music Online and has an easy to follow explanation of how to improvise a right hand melody over a chord in the left hand using resolution/tension notes and passing, circling and extended tension notes. Several light bulbs went on all at once for me while I was watching this! Classical, jazz, rock, whatever the style…this is what melody and harmony all boils down to.
Now, instead of a writing prompt, I’ll just take a chord. Any chord.
Gosh, I can’t wait to adapt this for my students who are all learning major, minor, various seventh chords!