Lesson 2

Improvisation with Hot Cross Buns

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Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman.
You've probably been practicing "Hot Cross Buns" from our last lesson,
which is great because today we're going to learn how to play and improvise
with "Hot Cross Buns” jazz style.

To improvise means to make up your own music on the spot.
You choose the notes as you go, anything you want.
It's a lot of fun, and there's no right or wrong way to do it.
For improvisation today we're going to be playing along with a backing track,
which, by the way, you can download from our website as a gift
when you sign up for a free account with Hoffman Academy.
This backing track is also found on the Unit One practice album,
which you can download if you are a premium member of Hoffman Academy.

So let's come to the piano to see how this works.
First we’ll place our fingers on the three black keys.
Then we'll press play on the backing track.
While it's playing, listen for four clicks. That's your signal to start playing.
1 2 3 4
Then you improvise.
1 2 3 4
Now it's going to be your turn to try, but first let me give you a few tips.
Before you press play on the backing track,
make sure you have your hand in position on the three black keys.
Then, when you hear the four clicks, think inside your head:
1 2 3 4
Then, after you say 4, you start playing "Hot Cross Buns” on the next beat.
Let's practice like this.  Say with me:
1 2 3 4 Hot!
Okay, let's try it together, and actually on “Hot,” let's clap our hands. So we'll go:
1 2 3 4 Hot!
Okay, try it with me, ready go:
1 2 3 4 Hot!

Good, now let's try it on the keys.
We're going to say 1 2 3 4 ♫ Hot cross buns ♫
and instead of clapping on “Hot,”
we're going to start playing on the beat right after you say 4.
Try it with me. Let’s count and then start playing. Ready, go:
1 2 3 4 ♫ Hot cross buns ♫ and stop.
Good, let's try it one more time.
Count with me and then start playing on the next beat. Ready, go:
1 2 3 4 ♫ Hot cross buns ♫

Good.  So now, when you are playing the backing track,
you’re going to listen for the four clicks,
and then you're going to play "Hot Cross Buns."
Then you're going to improvise,
using the same three notes you just used to play "Hot Cross Buns.”
Like I said, there isn't a right or a wrong for improvising,
but if you're not sure how to get started, here are some ideas:
One idea for improvising is to use the same words and timing,
but just change the notes.
For example, instead of ♫ Hot cross buns ♫,
you can use the same words but new notes like:
♫ Hot cross buns ♫
♫ Hot cross buns ♫
♫ One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns ♫
I did all the same words, but just tried some new notes.
But it's also possible to change the timing
or add extra words that you make up yourself, like:
♫ I like hot cross buns, oh yeah ♫
♫ I like them, hot cross buns ♫
You can make up anything you want.

Also, improvisations don't have to have words at all.
You can just listen and enjoy the various sounds and patterns
the three black keys can make.
Remember you have repeating notes, you can do stepping notes up or down,
or you can skip notes like from MI all the way down to DO.
One thing I do not recommend doing
is just playing completely randomly like this:
That would be kind of like talking like:
No one could understand you.
So when you improvise play your notes clearly just like talking,
and have fun making up your very own music.
While you're doing the improvisation, be listening for the four clicks.
That's going to be your signal to end the improvisation
and play "Hot Cross Buns" one last time.

Okay, to summarize you're going to start the backing track,
listen for four clicks, play "Hot Cross Buns,” improvise,
then four clicks again, and play "Hot Cross Buns” one last time.
Okay, it's time for you to give it a try.
Remember, if you're not totally happy with your improvisation, fine,
you can rewind and try it again and again as many times as you like.
Here we go. I'm going to play "Hot Cross Buns" along with you,
but when it's time to improvise, you're on your own.
Go ahead and get your hand in position, the backing track is about to begin.

Great job today learning how to improvise with "Hot Cross Buns" jazz style.
Remember, you can download this backing track
by signing up for a free account with Hoffman Academy.
With a free account you'll also get some other perks too:
like progress tracking and access to our library of free,
printable learning materials.
But if you're serious about getting the most out of your learning experience,
I highly rec ...