How to improvise?

When it comes to simple melodies it’s not that difficult to learn tabs simply by practicing and after a while it seems that I can play completely with my muscle memory. What should I do to be able to improvise? Is it an ultimate thing that comes with an ordinary learning tabs practice?

Howdy and welcome Lovemedo!
To do it well, you will have to be either very well acquainted
with your instrument (technique, scales, patterns, etc) or with
the music piece. Budding jazz hornmen are given a very simple
melody to play perfectly straight with NO variation from the
melody. We would play Twinkle Twinkle over and over and over
and over way past the point where we were sick of the tune, and
only then were we allowed to embellish the melody. By this time,
the tune was such a part of our head and hands and embouchure
that we could literally play it backwards or sideways…improvisation
beginnings…what do you know?
Louis A said that improvising is playing as close to the melody as possible
without ever actually playing the melody.

thebugleboy

[quote=“LoveMeDo, post:1, topic:3651”]
When it comes to simple melodies it’s not that difficult to learn tabs simply by practicing and after a while it seems that I can play completely with my muscle memory. What should I do to be able to improvise? Is it an ultimate thing that comes with an ordinary learning tabs practice?
[/quote]Speaking as one who never used tabs I found that for myself, improvisation was more “efficient” than actually practicing any song.

Not sure this is going to make any sense… I think improvisation is that blending of what’s in your mind and what your skill level is on harp all within the musical context you’re jamming with. If you’re familiar with the melody, the better. It gives you more room to prepare for changes. But those other two skills are interdependent. The more you play, the more you have a feel for what the harp can do within the context… and its limitations. And because you can’t play what you can’t think, the more you mentally jam with songs… the more ideas you have to use for the harp. So in my mind mental practicing to songs in your head… going through the motions… the draws, bends and blows… the tongue and mouth motions is more critical than tabs or learning by rote. It all helps build those neural connections between what you’re thinking, and how it materializes in your playing. This is how I’m trying to get back into shape after not playing for over 30 years.

I posted some of a jam from college days here http://www.harmonica.com/forums/harmonica-videos-and-audios/college-jam-1976-comments/

I should put up the first part of it as a cautionary tale of what happens when there’s a mismatch between what one’s mind is thinking and one’s ability to play… though in retrospect, maybe I just wasn’t focused enough.