Here are some things you can play with before coming to the PlayShop on Saturday.

Start by playing a D major scale using the drone track below.

D drone, no beat

How many different ways can you add variation? Some suggestions:

  • Add rhythms like
    • Hoedown, triplets, tucka, swing, etc.
    • Play with these patterns by reversing, splitting, combining or alternating.
  • Add slur patterns
    • Slur two, slur four, slur two-separate two
  • Add textures
    • Tremolo, plucking, bouncing
  • Add melodic patterns
    • 1-2-3, 1-2-3-1, 1-3

Next, just play a tune in D major, like Oh Susannah, Tobin’s Jig or Arkansas Traveller. If you want to see more choices, go here: Dronopoly in D.

Three notes only

Using the same D drone, try improvising with these three notes: D0, D2, A0. Don’t think about it too much. Just play with the order, add little variations and see if any melodic ideas arise. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Play simple, repeatable ideas.
  • Leave spaces.
  • There are no wrong notes.
  • Just trying to do this is a big step, so be kind to yourself.

After you’ve done that a while, try to improvise with these three notes: A3, E1, E3.

Finally, try to improvise with these three notes: D0, DL2, A0.

Do you know what each set of notes is called?

Pentatonic scales

Now let’s try to add a few more notes. Do a similar improvisation but now use the D pentatonic scale:


After doing that awhile, try it with a beat:

D drone, simple beat

Next, try improvising with a D minor pentatonic scale:


How does this feel different? What is the emotional quality of each?

D to G hoedown groove

Next, try improvising over this groove. Start by playing the groove. This is hoedown on D chord twice followed by twice on G.

D0A0 hoedown (2x) / D0A1 hoedown (2x)

Once you get going, try to switch to improvising with D pentatonic. When you get tired of that, return to the groove. Enjoy just playing that simple part, just losing yourself in the groove. Then begin again when you feel ready.

After trying that, try to do the same process with D minor pentatonic. How does it feel different?

D blues jam

Here are some D blues play-along tracks for you to practice improvising with.

  • You can use either the D major or minor pentatonic.
  • Also, experiment with using the D major or minor triad (what you practiced at the top of the page).

Just the backing instruments

In this first version, the cycle keeps repeating for over ten minutes without the main melody.

Alternating melody

In this version, there is a melody followed by a space to improvise.

Trade solos with Jason

In this third version, you can listen to my solo and then improvise in the cycle after me. We’ll keep alternating for ten minutes!

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this in a comment below, or in an email.

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