Improvisation for Beginners- Kiko's YouTube Live Stream #18

Improvisation solutions take different strategies depending on your situation (live playing vs sitting at home). Kiko’s last livestream was all about how to prepare for improvisation if you happen to be a beginner and don’t know where exactly to start. ( )

Summing it up:
Starting at home and learning to begin at a moderate pace. First step: Turn on your backing track and simply listen. Listen for the key of the song being played, and the chords being used. After identifying these, listen to the groove of the song. Listen until you have a good idea of how the entire song flows, all its parts, and its generalized notes.

At this point, you’ll see there will be a general tonality to the song. For example, let’s say a song is primarily sitting around the E minor chord most of the time. It might move to another key briefly, but it always comes back home to Em. Em is going to be your first scale. Consider Em your home. Start thinking about the scales or notes you want to use that will blend into this Em sound. A suggestion of where to start is to use the pentatonic scale. So play the pentatonic scale in E minor. When you do this, don’t just impulsively go through the whole scale. This is important. Just play a few notes of it. You want to give yourself a lot of space. By this, we mean to play with longer notes and pauses. There are two reasons for this. The first being that it gives you time to think. If you start in right away, trying to play over a song without paying attention to its nuances, it will cause anxiety in your playing and it will actually take you away from the natural flow of the song. Feeling anxious and pressured to perform will only restrict and create an awkward situation. The second reason for allowing space is that if you’re moving more slowly, you’re better able to figure out the chord changes and rhythmic patterns in real time. This is key in any live performance you might find yourself in later. It will give you a more comfortable feeling, you’ll feel calmer, confident, and you can interact and enjoy the music with the other players. The whole point is to enjoy the music!

The next step after playing around with your first pentatonic scale when you’re just beginning is to play the root and thirds, or triads, of that chord progression. This will start to make you sound a little more melodic. Start slowly, with pauses. Ease into it. Once you know the notes that work with the song, you can start to put more feeling and soul into your solos and improvisations.

Please feel free to add to this! The video is still up on Kiko’s YouTube channel- Live #18. Go check it out :slight_smile:


By applying long notes and pauses, all I was able to do is playing like this: EEEEE…, GGGG…, BBBBB… =))

That’s funny though, navigating the fretboard and following the music at the same time is hard.


I like throwing some different rhythmic patterns in there. What kind of music are you playing over?

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The same backing track, Sertao. I think I’m too beginner for improvising, I still find it hard to find the notes of the chords along the neck.

Like, I can see all the E, G, B notes, etc but for example, what other notes of E that I can use to create such rhythmic patterns when the backing track is playing Em, I can’t easily play those.

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Let me tell you a secret. You’re not too much of a beginner to try to improvise. And you are actually better off not playing too many notes in the beginning of your improvisation. You don’t have to play all the e’s, g’s and b’s you see… just one of each. Keep it super simple. If you know any notes at all, you’re already doing well. Take your notes you do know and you can see, and don’t worry about anything else. Just play those. Play them upside down and sideways. Play them with different rhythms. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of simplicity. Remember that Jimi Hendrix started right where you are. Just take your e, g and b notes… just find a few of them and play around with it until you’re comfortable. It might feel boring at first, but you can make it swing. And as you get more familiar (and bored) with it, you’ll find your other notes and your own groove. You and I are similar in this… I’m a super beginner, too. :slight_smile: Nothing you do is wrong. Keep playing!