Call-and-response Improvisation With Mary

Hey there fiddler,

Join me for a short guided improvisation.

We’ll play around with Mary Had A Little Lamb, the pentatonic scale, rhythms and call-and-response. This is yet another example of how you can practice advanced skills with simple, familiar songs. 

Below you’ll find a simple, plug-and-play routine that you can use with any song.

Simple Improv routine

Play a simple song with a drone track

In this session we played Mary Had A Little Lamb.

Play its pentatonic scale

  • Add variations: rhythms, slurs, textures
  • Change the note order

For Mary, you’ll play D Pentatonic scale: D0-1-2-A0-1-3

Add variations to a song Chunk

If that sounds good, then experiment with the same variation on other Chunks.

Alternate between song and improvisation

Play the song, then improvise with the scale and song.

Add little or big variations to the melody.

Make up new melodies by re-ordering pentatonic scale.

Don’t overthink it. Have fun with it.

Here are some play-along tracks to elevate your practice.

Mary – Jam Mix – 60 bpm

Mary – Jam Mix – Multi-tempo

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Further learning

Improvising With Rhythms

Easy Song, Skills Strong

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Leave a Reply

4 responses to “Call-and-response Improvisation With Mary

  1. Thanks for this workshop Jason, as with all your workshops, it was really well paced with clear instructions. I think the jam tracks are a real winner! I’m looking forward to coming along for the ride as you develop your ideas on teaching improvisation.
    Would you consider a lesson on Gershwin’s Summertime at some stage?

    1. Thanks for sharing this reflection, Marg. Improv is a big draw for expansion and creative growth 👍🏼
      I will include your lesson suggestion to our list for consideration, and please stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to be supported in one another sharing song lessons with the community. 🙂