Lesson 16: Solo time! (fail)

This week, things were a bit different. We spent some time doing some practical application, starting with a ‘bandstand-ready’ intro to How High The Moon followed by me playing the head through a couple of times, only really flubbing up the second time round.

It was at this point that I discovered how poorly I knew *anything* when Master suddenly shouted out ‘SOLO!"’. It started well enough – I simply quoted the first phrase of the melody, then correctly played something G Dorian-like over the Gmin7, followed by a colossal failure to remember the next chord, key, melody or anything.

I stopped. Master carried on.  I tried to pick up again and play part of the melody where I though he was in the song. Fail. I tried to soldier on from the second time round – picking up the main melody for a bit and trying to play around that, but forgot it when it got to the EbMajor7 part.   Master stopped mercifully.

“Erm. I kind of got lost.” I stammered.

“Eh, yeah – let’s start to break it down a bit…” He did, however, commend me on one successful strategy – that was trying to stick to the melody. He explained that a ‘right’ thing to do was always to have the melody going on in the back of my mind as a framework to fall back on and to be a jumping off point to doing stuff more exploratory.

We then started to work slowly from Gmaj7 to a Gmin7, staying in second position (Master was quite insistent that I didn’t try to wander all over the neck). He played rhythm thus :  Gmaj7| Gmaj7 | Gmin7 | Gmin7   to give me bit of breathing space. I was to focus on making my phrases continuous, i.e. when the chord changed, play across the bar line and try to target either chord tones or key differentiating notes, i.e. the Minor 3rd (Bb) on the Gmin and the Major 3rd (B) when getting back to Gmaj7.   Apparently I started to get quite good at this after about 5 minutes.

He then explained that I should try to take a simpler approach to the song, concentrating on the important changes (I had been trying too hard to follow every single chord – a surefire route to failure for the beginner) and should instead think about moving from G major to F major to Eb major to G minor (Bb) steadily instead of going G Gmin C7 Fminor Bb etc. which is too much for the brain to handle at the outset. He also explained that I should take a patten oriented and positional approach, rather than try to play the whole neck at once (guilty).  I practiced this for a while at home and started to get better at it.


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