How To Make Your Guitar Improvisation Sound Like Music

Tommaso Zillio

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Improvisation is a hot topic for all guitar players. Some people love it, some hate it, but everybody wants to be better at it. And let's face it, few things are desirable (and sexier) than a musician able to create great music on the spot.

But, when we get down to it, most guitarists' improvisation skills suck. And not for "technical" reasons. I know (and you know too) players that are fast and clean and yet their improvisation sounds lifeless, like one exercise after another. And there are also players who can just play a few notes, not very fast or clean, but the MUSIC they make out of these few notes is incredible.

As much as I personally love technique and speed, I also recognize that technique and musicality are two different things. One does not exclude the other... but if you want to be musical you have to work on it.

There will be, of course, many things to say on how to improvise in a musical way. In teaching my students I have found, though, that students can get a very large improvement on the quality of their improvisation if they follow TWO simple guidelines.

So here are the two "magic" guidelines that will make your improvisation great. You 'just' need to avoid the two extremes:

  1. Always playing the same thing over and over. I know it sounds obvious, and indeed very few people repeat the same musical idea verbatim many times over... but in general I find that some beginner improvisers DO tend to repeat the same "general idea" for too long.

  2. Playing always NEW ideas. This is what most intermediate and early advanced players do: they keep adding new ideas rather than developing what they just played. While it's better than just repeating the same thing over and over, it will still be boring as sounds as they are talking "at" the audience rather than talking "to" the audience.

"Ok, Tommaso, but in practice HOW can I do that? Is there any exercise or practical tip you can give me?" Glad you asked :-) Heres a video that explains in detail what you have to do to improve your improvisation:

As you can see, it's not hard... and it's fun. This is definitely NOT one of these boring exercises that you have to force yourself to do. In fact, you can do this exercise even WHILE you play with other people... and they will wonder how you got so good and so "musical" in such a short time.

And if you need help on taking your improvisation to the next level... check this out how you can get complete mastery of scales and modes by clicking on the button below:


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