Variation: When students are comfortable with direct imitation, explain how an individual might respond to the leader’s “call” with an improvised “response.” One can (1) “paraphrase” the call by slightly embellishing or ornamenting it, (2) mirror the rhythms of the call but offer different tones, (3) use the tones presented in the call but create new rhythms, or (4) improvise a response like one might follow a question with an answer when speaking.
Objective: As an obvious sequel to the first technique, the call and response activity expands the pulse beyond the internal body level and places the “time” mechanism in the hands of the drummer. The group is now expected to respond on predetermined pitches and reflect the nuances of the jazz language presented in the “call” by the leader (bends, scoops, falls, growls, vibrato) as well as basic dramatic variations of dynamics, articulation, and accents.
As the tonal fields grow to incorporate more than three tones, outline larger intervals with step-wise lines before attempting to execute large leaps.
The object of the variation (improvising the “response“) will be to fashion some musical connection between the two ideas; while the “call” will be essentially improvised, the “response” should be musically related to the call but independently generated by the imagination of the responding player.
3. Find My Pitch
Activities: On any instrument, play any pitch for the group for three to five seconds. Ask the group (place drummers and percussionists on mallet keyboards) to imitate the pitch VOCALLY (in any comfortable octave). Then instruct all to search for the note on their respective instruments (again in any comfortable octave). Repeat the process until all participant have found the pitch.
Select arbitrary pitches to follow and repeat the process. Ask for tones from all of the different instruments in the group (players will ordinarily have more difficulty imitating pitches generated by the lowest and highest instruments) .Expand to incorporate two pitches. Begin with smaller, constant intervals.
Objective: This technique will exercise the ear and improve the student’s ability to discriminate pitch and imitate played sounds. The activity will also dramatically improve relative pitch.
Jazz soloists must be able to technically configure sounds that they hear or imagine, and such exercises in pitch discrimination will improve the response time between the mind and the fingers.