Ear Academy, Newburgh, Fife, KY14 6DP

Mixed Instrument Workshop: Improvisation

Sunday 20 July 2014: 10.30 - 4.00 Cost is £35. Cash only please.
Please ring Dave to book a place (& find out if this is right for you…) or simply turn up on the day.
Dave - 07970 744986 or 01337 841004
General: Please do CLICK HERE to look at this page which has information relevant to ALL mixed instrument Workshops
Booked so far:: Sue (piano & saxophone)

3 Clinton Street
Fife KY14 6DP

email: dave
mobile: 07970 744986
landline: 01337 841004
Dave J Ford peering through  ice sculpture
Stephane Grappelli


Improvisation is something anyone can learn on any instrument. Before Stephane Grappelli not many people considered violin an appropriate instrument. Thankfully Stephane didn't care about that.

Any instrument – from Clarsach to Clavier - Viola to Vocals - Guitar to Sitar..

You do need an instrument tho...!


Dave Ford playing with Dajo
Please see General Information page - relevant to all workshops

Paralysed by fear? Let Dave hold you hand & lead you through the magical door to improvisation. You'll learn that holding a single note over an entire chord sequence can be powerful, especially when you combine that with vibrato, altering sound qualities & volume levels. That playing a scale or arpeggio up & down, up & down over your favourite music can sound fantastic. You'll learn the best kept secret in music development. How to play over your favourite music.


Everyone can learn how to improvise. The main barrier to improvisation is a belief that you can't do it & that it's somehow a special gift given only to special people. That belief – fear even, is sadly often a self fulfilling prophesy as people are paralysed into never trying, or when they do try are so ready to believe that they're hopeless that they consider every wrong note confirmation.


Wrong Notes (are great!)

Dave Ford on Clarinet

There's nothing like hearing a minor third over a major chord to make you grimace, but the happy fact is that if it sounds awful & you recognise it's awful, you've just learned that you shouldn't use that note in that place the next time that point in the chorus comes around. You don't even need to know why it sounds awful. So suspend your automatic & immediate feelings of inadequacy, & USE this magical moment as a learning experience. So you'll need to play lots of terrible sounding notes on you road to nirvana. Just think of them as learning experiences. The more wrong notes you play, the better you'll get at avoiding them. And look around you after you make a particularly howling note, did anyone die?

Dave Ford on Trumpet

It's true that it stretches you're listening skills to maximum lengths. So: are you a good listener?

You'll be guided into finding good notes & identifying not so good notes. Although you'll be introduced to the reasons why some sound cool & others sound awful, you'll also be told that you don't need to know any theory at all.

You'll get better at finding the ‘Root' note of music that you hear, identifying minors from majors, recognising 'intervals' & more...

There will be several ear exercises in this class. Possibly the easiest is where 2 notes are played, one very high, one very low. You'll be asked to identity which is higher. Then they'll get progressively closer together until we're at ‘semi-tones' where things can get tricky. To give you self confidence, get a musical friend to do this excersise for you before you come. If you can't manage semi-tones, that's OK, everyone will find some exercises challenging – that's why you're considering coming on this workshop!


Dave Ford on Trumpet

Of all the 4 workshops in this series, this one is aimed at fairly proficient players. If you're very proficient on your instrument, you'll be free to use your ear to look for your notes. If you're a beginner, you'll be using most of your of your brain in remembering where to put your fingers.

As philosophy surrounds much of The Ear Academys workshop program, you may still gain valuable insight, confidence & direction even if you're a beginner – but you will have to accept not playing very much.



Maria Carey

Most solos from lead guitar, piano & even vocals are essentially improvisation. Mariah Carey style vocals are full of it & Clare Torry's vocal solo in Pink Floyds 'The Great Gig in the Sky' is pure improvisation.

Vocals: You can start improvising using your voice. It's a great place to start – perhaps in the bath when everyone's out of the house. The advantage of improvising by singing is that you can pretty much play your instrument & you can use 100% of your brain for listening & finding nice sounding lines. The disadvantage is that singing, like improvisation, seems to bring out heightened anxiety in those who feel someone may be listening.

Anxiety uses valuable brain power & you'll need 100% of that for listening. Try to find a place to practice where you feel comfortable. You may soon realise it's not so difficult & confidence will grow.
Try it. It's just so liberating.
Clare Torry
Please see also General Information page relating to all Workshops

mob: 07970 744986
landline: 01337 842434

Weavers Hall, Bank Close, Newburgh
KY14 6EG