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Transcribing to Help with Improvisation​ Skills

Mark Stefani

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Mark Stefani’s Step #3 Recommends Transcribing Daily to Acquire Core Language 

Given all of the above, it should come as no surprise to you that I would recommend transcribing (learning by ear) on a regular basis as your primary means of acquiring the core language critical to successful improvisation. While the word itself infers pen in hand, at first you should aim at playing what you hear, and only then should you consider the prospect of writing what you’ve learned as a way to improve your skill as a reader and to expand your understanding of timing and phrasing. Once again, keep in mind the fact that the great jazz guitarists cited in the ‘previous steps’ only did the former, so don’t let your lack of writing and reading ability hold you back from learning by ear and picking up so many subtle nuances only gained by playing along with a mentor. 

What and who to transcribe is always a personal call. For me, based upon my need and desire to become a superior blues player who could also handle jazz changes, I chose artists well-known for their skill in those areas. Don’t limit yourself by choosing guitarists and ignoring other instrumentalists, because adapting piano, saxophone, and trumpet work to the guitar is one of the best ways to come up with unique ideas that will become part of your sum total and personality as an improviser. 

Watch for the NEXT STEP in the SERIES!

And check out more from Mark Stefani.

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