Improvisation is a fun, freeing way to be musical and guitar is well-suited to the task! But sometimes students become ice sculptures when asked to improvise. They might have some performance anxiety or feel like they’re bound to a certain style. One way to inspire them and encourage them to smash through their comfort zones is to show them several different improv and soloing styles from some guitar greats!
Laying down a simple twelve bar blues will give your students enough of a framework to let the melodies and their imaginations fly. Let them know that anything goes!
Few people would dispute the mastery of Jimmy Page’s guitar playing or soloing. But your students might not be familiar with this rock legend. His “Stairway to Heaven” solo is a nice example because it doesn’t rely on speed to impress, and it takes the audience on a journey.
Chuck Berry is one of the greats. Your students might be surprised out how early this kind of showmanship started. In “Johnny B. Goode,” Berry gets his guitar talking and uses his entire body to tell the story of the song. Warning: If you show this video to your students, you’re going to have some dancing in the aisles!
David Gilmour’s still got it. In this pretty recent live version of “Comfortably Numb,” Pink Floyd’s Gilmour bursts into a master class in guitar improvisation.