Improvising on "Key To The Highway"

Apr 13, 2020
I feel like I've spent more time thinking about improvising than almost any other aspect of playing music. Some of that time has been spent wondering why I couldn't do it any better, some of it has been spent wondering if it was even possible to do what I wanted to on the guitar, but much of that time has definitely been spent scheming to get the most music out of the smallest possible amount of chops.

Because I've never had boatloads of technique; I am not what I would consider, by any stretch of the imagination, a chopsy kind of player. I'm not sure if I'm not particularly chopsy because that's not what I like to listen to, or if I don't like to listen to that kind of music because I'm not particularly chopsy myself. Whichever it is, a lack of obviously dazzling facility has led me to focus instead on figuring out what it is that actually makes improvising sound musical. How can I leverage what I can do to create something expressive, groovy and satisfying? And how can I work with what I've got right now to make that a positive experience? Because I want it to feel fun and relaxed, not stressful and uptight. When I'm improvising, my aim is to feel like I'm speaking conversationally, off the top of my head, rather than clenched and skittish, like I'm scrambling to get through a math test.

In this afternoon's live Youtube stream, I'll go through ten steps to improvising on the eight-bar blues "Key To The Highway." You won't need a ton of chops to use these ideas – I'll show you how to use ideas like phrasing, contrast and development to begin improvising more musically right away. Even if you're new to improvisation, you can get some pretty satisfying results just trying out the first few steps. And if you've been improvising for a while, I've got some ideas for you about how to use chord tones, voicings and chord substitutions to create solos that build over multiple choruses.

Tune in at 2:30pm CST on Youtube at the link below:

Improvising on "Key To The Highway"

Of course, I'm doing these live streams in part to alert you to the ideas, practice tools and repertoire I present in my ongoing monthly membership, the Fingerstyle Five. If you're interested in learning more about how the membership works or want to register before the Tuesday night deadline, there's a link below. And if you'd like to download the tab for this afternoon's lesson ahead of time, there's a link for that too:

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Fingerstyle Five Details and Registration

More soon,