Elan Trotman Saxophone Clinic: Improvisation
Improvisation Tips From Elan Trotman. A summary of this section of his Summerhays Music November Clinic.
To play a song and improvise over it you need to know the root of a song, or what key it is in. Everything is built on that note, and you need to know the scale around that note.
In order to improvise well you have to have some knowledge of harmony and the keyboard. Harmony is a big part of improvisation. Get a keyboard where you can see a chord and spell it out. Understand that you use that tool to build your chords. If you really want to do it right, Elan says, “Get a keyboard and start to learn the chords and scales. Whatever you do on your instrument you should be able to do on a keyboard. It will just make you an all around better musician.”
Exercises Elan does to prepare his fingers for playing in a key include a lot of cycles of 5ths, taking him through all the keys. Whatever pattern he plays in one key he plays either a 5th up or a 4th down. It doesn’t have to be in 5ths. It can be in half steps. Some people have a dominant hand and you will need to work the weaker hand with exercises that push that hand to work harder.