How to “Just Play” with Nick Mainella

New musicality video:

Today, we have the first of our interview series for Improv Month here at Musical U. To celebrate the launch of our new improv Roadmap that helps you learn to improvise from scratch, we’ve put together a month packed full of material all about improv.

In our first episode for improv month we talked about how to approach learning to improvise and how it’s something core and fundamental to any musician, it can take on many forms across many genres.

At the same time improvisation is something that is most commonly associated with jazz music in particular. And so, we were keen to kick off improv month talking to someone who’s expert in how you learn to improvise jazz.

Nick Mainella is the host of the “10 Minute Jazz Lesson” podcast which really lives up to its name! As jazz fans but not jazz musicians ourselves, we have been really enjoying listening to this show and we would highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in learning to play jazz.

The way Nick discusses improv on his show was so well aligned with the way we teach it at Musical U we knew we had to have him on the show, and we wanted to start improv month with this interview because as you’ll hear, so much of learning jazz improv is in fact applicable to any genre and style of improvising.

In this conversation we talk about:

– Nick’s own upbringing and what he did to compensate for *not* having a natural ear for music.

– The specific exercises he finds most useful for learning to improvise.

– One powerful memory he has that helped set his mindset right for improvisation for years to come, and which he passes on to his students if they’re at all shy or nervous about improvising.

– And why someone who wants to play jazz might actually be best served by first studying the blues.

It was so much fun to talk to Nick about jazz and improv and he dropped several really valuable nuggets of wisdom in this conversation – simple things that you can go away and apply yourself and really benefit from.

Listen to the episode:

Links and Resources

The 10 Minute Jazz Lesson podcast:

60 Days to Crushing the Blues course:

The Riff Everyone Plays Wrong:

Donna Schwartz Music:

About Active Listening podcast episode:

About the Power of Solfa podcast episode:

The 10 Minute Jazz Lesson podcast: Learning Vocabulary:

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How to “Just Play” with Nick Mainella