Improvising using the Blues Scale

Improvising Using the Blues Scale

Joseph Krammer
[email protected]
Philadelphia School District

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments


Middle School




Midi Intigrated Computer lab
Band in a Box


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students have the ability to play their instrument
Students know and can play the notes of the blues scale

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.


A scale sheet of the notes of the blues scale in Concert Bb blues for all of the instruments included in the exercise


Students will improvise a jazz melody, using the notes of the blues scale.
Students will play along to the sequenced band in a box 12 bar blues and keep a good time and create a solo that would be indiginous to the style of jazz that they are playing along to.
Students will have fun and slowly understand the concept of improvisation, and become more comfortable doing it.


Teacher will already have the sequenced Band in a Box 12 bar blues in Concert Bb already complete and ready to go.

Teacher will first have the students listen to the 12 bar blues provided by the Band in a Box porgram

Teacher will hand out the scale sheet with the blues scale on it to show them the notes that they can play over the 12 bar blues.

At first all students will play aloing and improvise at the same time along with the Band in a Box accompaniment.

After a few times of doing this, each student can then take a turn to solo by themselves.


Teacher can hear each individuals ideas of their improvised solo through their own performance,

Students can import what they have learned into their jazz band, especially if their jazz band is performing a 12 bar blues piece.

Any other students who aren’t in jazz band can use this opportunity to become familiar with the 12 bar blues, maybe to some day enter the jazz band at the school.

Follow Up:

Students can do this same exercise in other keys of the same 12 bar blues progression.

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