Qtorial 6: Improvising SuperSolo with Quaver’s QBackBeat!

by Abby @ Quaver on October 18, 2011

in At Quaver HQ,In the Quaver Classroom!,Qtorials,QuaverMusic.com

Today’s Qtorial – our weekly series of lesson & activity ideas from Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music – is all about Improvisation!

Qtorial 6: Improvising SuperSolo with Quaver’s QBackBeat!

Improvising can be a bit of a scary word for teachers let alone getting kids to do it, but it’s part of the task of any music teacher. So how do we do it?

When we teach improvising, it is best to start with improvising rhythms first. This is the least embarrassing thing to do, and most kids will have a go and have a sense of innate rhythm.

Here are a couple of improvising tips:

When I lived in the UK I used to play a game called SuperSolo with my kids. All I did was to play a groove of 4 measures, then have 2 measure ‘breaks’ where I kept a beat and a kid had to come out the front of the class and do a SuperSolo! They may have had a snare drum, or a conga, a pair of sticks or just their hands, but it really helped to get them into improvising.

Using QBackbeat, I created a track with this very idea: 4 measures of rhythm, followed by a 2 measure ‘break’ of steady beat, followed by 2 measures of rhythm then a 2 measure ‘break’ of steady beat. This is an example of the actual piece from QBackbeat below:


Here’s what to do.

  1. Decide whether you will have an instrument at the front of the class and 4 or 5 volunteers, or use clapping, or have each child use a classroom percussion instrument. You could even make instruments.
  2. Take the kids through the whole track clapping the steady beat, and during the breaks demonstrating a simple ‘SuperSolo’
  3. Then it’s their turn!

Listen below to the track, without the solo, then listen to the track with the added solos – I used clapping. You’ll get the idea. :)

  1. Here’s the track alone, created in QBackBeat and ready for student participation!
  2. Now with improvised claps included! Listen for the steady beat and the SuperSolos!

Points to remember:

  • Improvising can be very lonely, so create an atmosphere where everything is good, there is no such thing as a bad improvisation.
  • Get everyone to clap along as this will increase the sense of making the piece together.
  • Get everyone to applaud the 2 measure solo however good or bad, and even speak encouragement as they solo – you will be surprised how well this can raise a kid’s level.
  • Lastly . . . enjoy it!!

Next week we will look at how to add notes to our improvisation.

How do you teach improvisation in the classroom?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fredda Burton October 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Very good ideas for improvisation. I love the tracks and will definitely use them in my classroom. I use my orff instruments set up in a pentatonic scale when they are ready to add melody.


2 Abby @ Quaver October 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

That’s a great idea! Next week we’ll talk about adding more. Thanks Fredda!


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