Improvisation and Next Steps


I have just completed “Breakthrough Blues” for the second time. I may be thick but Improvisation has just seeped in and now I think I understand it. I am interested in playing pop and rock, does improvisation work for pop and rock? and how does one adapt?
Second question, I want to be able to jam along with local groups in pop and rock. But am fearful and nervous about just jamming along i.e. wrong key, upsetting other members etc, What do you suggest are my next steps, the “Jam along System” or other ? Thanks


Hey there, I also enjoy improvisation, and have to learn it to the full extend, so this here is just what I would do

Jam along to your favourite pop and rock songs. I think a lot of keys for songs can be found, otherwise there are apps that determine what key a song is in

As for jamming with other people, don’t be afraid of asking what key a song is in, and then pick the corresponding harmonica, and since most pop (and rock too I think) is played in the 1st position that should be easy peasy. And if a song does happen to be played in a minor key I think you can just pick the major key one tone lower (f.x. if the song is in D minor, you can play that on a C harmonica and play the D minor by drawing hole 4 and then play the D minor scale, which I think will be dorian, so it will consist of a major 6th, so omit that if necessary to the sound (or bend))

@Luke and @Slim feel free to correct me on any of this


Fantastic. Thanks


Find some of your favorite songs on You Tube and play along with them. That’s what I did. It’s fun. Yes, it’s probably in violation of copyright stuff, but you aren’t going to sell it. It’s just for fun.


Hey Craig - Great to see you on the forum! Yeah man, I recommend putting on jam tracks and practicing your improvising. I literally just made a post on theory for improvising in a blues context in 2nd position on harmonica here.

Thank you so much for your concern about playing in the right key! So important. Have you seen my lesson on this subject here? If you ever are wondering what would be the best harmonica to jam a certain song don’t hesitate to just make a post about it here on the forum, and I’m sure you’ll get some great ideas about what to do.

Regarding playing with other local groups, the best way would be to find a way to talk to a group member, tell them you play harmonica and would love to sit in and ask them if there are any songs they play regularly that could be cool to have harmonica on. There’s a good chance they’ll be like, “oh we play roadhouse blues, or yada yada yada.” Here’s the key point. Don’t forget to ask them, “What key do you play it in?” Many times bands don’t play songs in the same key as the recording, so this is important.

Then you can go and do your homework and practice and make sure you’ve got it together. Once you feel confident on the song, if they rehearse regularly, you could ask if you could come and jam it a rehearsal. That would be ideal! Otherwise, just ask them on a set break if you can sit in when they play that song, and if they like you’re playing it’ll be something they wanna do every time you’re at one of their performances, and then you could ask, “are there any other songs you do that could be good for harmonica?”

As with everything in life, the key is to develop relationships. This can be challenging sometimes. Mutual friends are probably the easiest way to get an “in.” If that’s not an option, maybe offer to buy someone a beer? Friendship first is always a great.

Also, @Slim shared a great resource for learning songs from YouTube here.


Hello @Luke,
your tip is correct. I received an invitation to my harmonica from a staff member at the dentist last week. She had mentioned that she had recently started playing the saxophone in an amateur orchestra of about 60 people. Then I said that I had been learning the harp for a few weeks.
I can drop by for the rehearsals at any time. I’m sure I’ll do it someday, only now in the winter in the evening is unfortunately a bit inconvenient. I can consolidate my game until spring and then I’ll be there.
Yes, you have to be in contact with other people.
Many greetings Astrid