Are you a classically trained musician who would like to be able to play in situations without sheet music? Or maybe a beginning musician who wants to go straight to playing and skip learning to read music? Mastering musical improvisation is a nearly infinite task, but beginning to play could not be much simpler.
- Step 1
Practice making noises with your instrument. Even if you are quite familiar with playing it, experiment with the range of different possible sounds, and how to make them.
- Step 2
Practice playing songs by ear. Think of a tune you like and try to find the notes involved on your instrument. This is a great exercise to practice until you get really good at it, because imagining a tune in your head and being able to instantly guess the correct notes to play it is the main skill involved in improvising music.
- Step 3
Play the same tune at different pitches, by starting on different notes. This is called playing the song in different keys. Try playing along with recorded music to get a further feel for this. Depending on the key of the music, some notes will sound harmonious and others will not. Memorizing scales is one way to learn to play well in different keys, but it is also possible to do it more intuitively.
- Step 4
Make up your own tunes. If you have trouble doing this on your instrument, try by whistling or humming first. Don't worry about whether your tunes are any good at this point, just keep practicing. It is also good at this point to listen to improvised music, but remember that it's possible to improvise in many different styles, so if you don't like a certain type of recorded music, don't be discouraged.
- Step 5
Move on to improvising tunes on your instrument. Again, try playing them in different keys. If you get notes that aren't quite what you were expecting, try to keep playing anyway. Stopping suddenly is one of the biggest mistakes of beginning improvisers, because if you keep playing you can often make your unintentional note seem intentional.
- Step 6
Find some other musicians to practice with. Improvising in groups involves a lot of practice in listening to and responding to the other players, and the only way to get that experience is by doing it.