Exploring Improvisation

Exploring Improvisation

Dail Bienkiewicz
[email protected]
Barrington Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments


Middle School




Yamaha Keyboard Lab
Dell Computer


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Basic Keyboard skills, understanding of the 12 bar blues form and basic chord structure.

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


Teacher-prepared hand-out 12 bar music sheet with changes and examples of blues scales.
Teacher-prepared 12 bar repeating sequence rhythm/background track.


As a result of this lesson, students will be able to improvise over the chord changes of the 12 bar blues form on the keyboard by listening, exploring and creating phrases and melodies.


Using the hand-out, students will listen to teacher demonstration on one-note per chord rhythmic improv then 2 or more notes. Students experiment and create their own one-note then 2 or more notes for each chord change-10 min. Discussion of “blue notes” and scale-10 min. Students practice phrases and melodic ideas for each change-10 min. Teacher assigns certain measures of the form to each student and the class performs with each student playing their own measure when it occurs in the form.


Assess the students’ ability to demonstrate understanding of improvising over a given chord change using “blue notes” as well as chord tones.

Follow Up:

Next session, students would begin to experiment playing and trading off short phrases and then practice playing thru the entire form.

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