I was eating breakfast with Rick, and he told me his team practices improvising.
I had to know!
Rick uses mp3’s that have a click and a 4-chord changing pattern that loops. He starts the track, only tells the team what key it’s in, and they start playing. Maybe the drummer starts playing a groove, the keys player begins an arpeggiation, the acoustic player starts to strum. By the end, everyone is in, creating based on what each other is doing.
Stop the presses. Don’t let this story bury the lead.
We’re talking about learning to improvise, but don’t miss that you just read the very definition of making music: Everyone is creating based on what each other is doing.
So what would happen if you spent the last 15 minutes of rearhsal once a month doing this?
It might take a while for the whole team to figure out what is being played. That struggle reminds me of the necessary struggle a chick has in pecking its way out of the shell. It will literally die if it doesn’t go through this process.
Developing the muscles of improvisation will improve the music that you’re creating. Even the music you’re replicating from the album version.
It doesn’t matter how you get the mp3 to play in your system, since you’re not playing this for a service. Play it off the projection computer, plug in your phone, old-school burn a CD, play it in Ableton, Prime, Playback, or whatever. Just give it a whirl and then let me know what you experienced and learned!
So where can you find these mp3's? PraiseCharts! They're called "Bed Tracks" and you'll want to make sure to get the ones with the click track. The cues call out which chord you're going to for the first progression. Click here to listen to them.
ps. This is Rick.
pps. Love ya Rick!
ppps. Thanks Rick.