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I've been trying to improvise on cimbalom lately; it's almost like going back to the start. The patterns aren't as familiar as vibes so it takes longer to process what notes are in the chord/scale, and thus my solos always sound terrible.

I'm taking it slow, keeping the tunes simple- Autumn Leaves, Sweet Georgia, Summertime. Been working through guide tones, chord-soloing, singing lines before playing them.

I've concluded that it's in my head: everyone sounds beginner when they begin, but it's still frustrating. Does anyone have any tips for being less critical and more constructive?

PS - hope this hasn't already been discussed. I had a quick look.


John Keene Tue, 10/22/2013 - 08:03

It might not be your lines that you don't like, but possibly your phrasing. Your lines might be just fine, but if your phrasing doesn't swing then your lines won't either. I'd suggest shifting your focus away from the actual note choices and re-phrase what you're playing in more of a jazz style.

toncils Tue, 10/29/2013 - 02:39

In reply to by c.stallard22

Good advise.

I did start reading Effortless Mastery a while ago. I approached it without salt, ie- I tried to take it slow and open minded, but have been meaning to blow the dust off.

It recently occurred to me that part of my frustration is Aebersold playalongs; I'm not playing much with real people.

Babu Tue, 10/29/2013 - 04:50

In reply to by toncils

That's a crucial point. Only playing with others musician will settle your real own musical personality. The same thing occurs with music itself. If you compose a tune it's quite impossible to know in advance what it will sound like exactly. And at the first playing big surprises can happen... The real game is playing live in a band in front of an audience. All over this site you will see Tony recommand to play with others, and he's absolutely right. Confronting yourself with "real" playing will give you the right "metering" of your real skills and your progress. Good luck !

IndianaGlen Thu, 10/31/2013 - 10:59

In reply to by toncils

If you haven't already, record yourself playing a bunch of lines and different approaches to the same chords and listen back. As long as you are playing in time, my guess is you'll find something you like. If you find stuff you don't like, that's progress too.

On the Aebersold Play-alongs, the bass and piano are usually on opposite left and right tracks, and drums on on both. So messing with the balance can break the monotony. I really like playing with Bass only. Not as good as the real people though.

From a glass half full perspective. No liking your lines is a good thing, it means you are probably thinking musically. Having bad lines and thinking they sound good is a much bigger problem.

Listen to an old recording of Lois Armstrong of Summertime. On the recordings I have heard of him on that tune, it's obvious he is thinking melody and he plays the melody with a few embellishments. You can keep it simple and sound good. Playing a line you have memorized is perfectly OK when soloing. Heck that's basically what a 'quote' is in a solo.

Here;s a challenge that shouldn't take too much time to prove my point Take Summertime. If you are plaing it in DMiner (Dmin, is the first chord) , Learn the D D miner blues scha Play the first three notes (Sum-er-time). The next try a few notes on the blues scale for the next 2 bars. Take some time and just keep esperimenting. Keep doing that and you may find a line you like. Try a lot of notes fast, try a couple of notes slow etc, you will likely find a line you like. If you are playing summertime in A miner, use an A miner blues scale same thing. Granted it's formulaic, however, it will likely find you a line that you like, and yo u can work from there.

Finally another good book that's siilar to inner tennis is "Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner. I like it a lot, but it does get a little deep in zen phillosophy and meditation, however, I took that with a grain of salt, and I got a ton of value from it.