Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Question on Soloing

Got an email question earlier this week about soloing.

"The drumming problem I'd need help with the most is soloing. Particularly, more smoothly putting the licks together and changing rythmic scope solo to solo. I play regular w/ a jazz trio and my solos are about a 50/50 proposition. Half the time they come out nice, others it's are more rickety and stuck in re-tread licks. I feel like I could pre-conceive 2 or 3 'go to' solos. but going between ideas improvisationally makes me stumble sometimes."

"That's a tough problem. One I struggled with myself in the past, especially my senior year in college. It's actually the reason I made a whole section of the members area on the site called "The Art of Soloing".  I'm able to take students step by step through the process of working on their soloing skills.

For me, revolving the solo around a recurring theme, especially in a jazz setting, seemed to help me the most. It gave me a logical beginning and ending. I would also take smaller chunks of that theme and rearrange/morph them into other ideas during the solo. This is called Theme and Variation and is a very common practice in both the jazz world as well as the classical world.

In your practice time, try to set aside a solo practice time. Come up with a theme. Then work on incorporating ideas that you already know into that theme. Hum the tune of a familiar standard and try to outline the melody using snippets from that theme. In other words, don't focus on impressive chops...focus on dynamics, melodies, tension and release, etc. That's what will improve your soloing. Learning impressive licks and fast fills is cool...but in the end, it's about how much you make people sing what you play. How memorable your solo is.  When I'm listening to jazz, I want melodies, music, memorable lines. Not chops. Art Blakey? You can hum all of his solos. And they're impressive to boot. I think you've nailed what the issue is, now it's just working through the mechanics of stringing your ideas together more thoroughly."

Ready to take your drumming to the next level?  Then it's time to join The Shed


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