One of the best techniques for learning how to improvise on the piano is to start with a simple left hand pattern and then add more complex right hand improvisation. For this improvisation lesson, you're going to start with a basic G, F, E flat, and D left hand pattern. Try playing those four notes in succession: G, F, E flat, and then D. Most likely you will recognize this familiar pattern. Try experimenting a little more with your left hand pattern before adding the right hand improvisation. There are so many ways that you can mix and match these four notes from playing the descending succession with eighth notes instead of quarter notes to mixing up the notes in a new order, such as E flat, G, F, D.
Now let's move on to the right hand. What can you do with your right hand that will complement the G, F, E flat, and D left hand variations? Are you familiar with the tune Carol of the Bells? The left hand repeats the simple G, F, E flat, D pattern while the right hand plays the melody.
The first eight measures of Carol of the Bells uses notes from a G minor scale in the right hand – G, A, B flat, C, and D. You can also add E flat and F to the mix if you like. Remember that B flat and E flat are the only black notes that you'll be playing with your right hand. The rest of the notes should be white notes. Play this scale a few times to familiarize yourself with the notes. Then play the steady G, F, E flat, D pattern with your left hand while you improvise with your right hand using notes from the G minor scale. Try different rhythms and different combinations of the G minor scale notes to create new variations on the Carol of the Bells tune. Consider experimenting with playing one versus two notes at a time in your right hand or playing faster or slower.
Carol of the Bells is a classical tune, but what you do with the left hand pattern in combination with the right hand improvisation can give it more of a jazz or blues feel. If you don't like what you play, don't be afraid to keep improvising. It can take time and patience to get comfortable with improvising and to develop a style that feels right for you. Over time, the process will become more natural. Stick with it, and before you know it, you'll be itching to start improvising every time you hear a new song.
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