A common question amongst members of the Chick Corea Academy is, “How do you practice improvisation?”.

Heres what Chick had to say about it:

“My suggestion is using a principle that Ive described in some detail in previous workshops called gradients. You do it step by step. Think of a newborn baby. Theyre not walking yet but they want to walk. Around a year old, maybe a little older – they start to get up on their feet, you know? How do they learn to walk? Well, its a gradient. You know, parents go, ‘Wow, he walked!’ Then he took a step and fell down, but he got up and he walked again. Its a good example of a gradient.

You can see the purpose that a tot has, at that point, to want to walk. He doesn’t care how many times he falls down. He keeps getting up and keeps doing it and keeps succeeding little by little until hes running a marathon a couple years later.

Its exactly the same principle of how you practice improvisation. Wherever you are in terms of your fluency or how well you can get it going, you have to start there and just keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it. If you dont keep going too far over your current ability level, just keep pulling it back until you make it a smaller adventure. If you make it an adventure that makes it a loss, and you go, ‘I can dont do that anymore’, then youre not practicing correctly.”

To learn more about the academy, go to www.ChickCoreaAcademy.com

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