How possible it is to improvise?

I have a friend who’s been playing piano for 10 years now. He can play any melody provided that he knows it very well in his head. How advanced does one has to be to play anything on harmonica without tabs, i.e. from his head?
I’ve been listening to some music and I noticed how fit it would be to harmonica as backs. Can one be good enough to be able to mimic the melody with harmonica, again without tabs, just from hearing?

Certainly. I do it all the time. You will have to get to a certain
level of proficiency with your instrument so that you will be able
know and feel where your next phrase will come out of the instrument;
that is to know and feel where the notes will fall on your harmonica,
and which will be blow, draw, bent, etc. Eventually you will be able to
feel the phrases on your harmonica because you have spent so much time
on it and are accustomed to how most passages lay out on it.


So is there a way to improve faster? I don’t think playing tabs is getting me there. Maybe I need a rather active training like ‘messing’ around without the tabs?

Hello, Love Me Do.

We already know how to improvise.
We improvise when we speak to each other,
and when we write e-mails and posts to forums.

We rarely speak in pre-set speeches.

To learn improvisation on the harmonica:

1. Follow BugleBoy’s advice: know your harmonica.
Learn scales, arpeggios, chords, bending, overblowing,
and musical structure (forms). By memory.

2. Don’t use pre-set (written) music, either tablature
or traditional music.They are “road maps”. They give
us directions on how to get from Liverpool to Lincolnshire.
But, improvisation is like throwing away the maps, and
taking the scenic route, with your own inner compass.

3. Listen and repeat the music, with no written
instructions to bog us down.Listen to blues music, jazz,
klezmer (mostly improvised over chord progressions),
and play back what you hear.You’ll be copying, and
eventually you’ll be selecting what you like, and
“weaving” it into your own style.

4. Everyone can improvise. We just need to toss out
the papers, and our inhibitions. The more we improvise,
the more we express our selves.


I learned to improvise playing jazz (trumpet as a kid). Find some old jazz where the same note is never played once (Louis Armstrong). Jazz solo’s were intimidating at first, it became fun after awhile. It’s a matter of letting yourself go. So try listening to some old jazz or even some new. Just a thought. Good luck

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