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XP 3: How do improvising, jamming, and freestyling work?

One of the exciting things about improvising, jamming, and freestyling is that these ways of performing are not planned out ahead of time. When you improvise, jam, or freestyle you make it up as you go. 

Think About

  • What are some similarities between musical jamming or improvisation and having a conversation? 
  • How can you tell if something is “made up” or invented on the spot or is more prepared? Can you?

Get Started

  1. Watch the following video to help you get a sense of how improvising, jamming, or freestyling works:


  1. Now watch the following three jams from the video.
    1. Based on your observations of each video, assign a number from 1 to 10 based on how much improvising you think is going on in the video.
      1. 1 = the least amount of improvising and 10 = the most amount of improvising.

NOTE 1: This has nothing to do with how good or bad you think the video is. This is simply to get you listening for when you think something is being improvised or when a jam is taking place.

NOTE 2: There is no right answer without talking to the artist, who is the only person who knows how much of the performance is invented on the spot.

How much improvisation or jamming do you think is in this. . .

Reggie Watts video:

  • At the beginning of the video, Reggie speaks. Is this an improvisation too? I think so. How is it different from the musical jam that comes later? How is it the same?

Honoka & Azita ukulele jam – Bodysurfing

  • When one of the players jams, what is the other player doing?

Kid Lucky and JFlo beatbox jam & tutorial:

  1. Think about the music you listen to most of the time.
  • How much of the music you listen to do you think includes parts that are improvised or jammed? 
  • What would it be like to go to a live concert of your favorite artist and hear them perform songs you like with parts that are different from what you have always heard?

Share What you Learned

If you are using the LRNG platform:

  • Go back, find out what to submit, and complete the XP
  • If you want, you can then learn even more with the optional “Go Further!” activities below

If you are not using the LRNG platform:

  • Continue below and share with your teacher or organization:

Sharing What You Learned

  • Describe some of your reactions and thoughts when you listened to music and tried to figure out if the musicians were improvising or jamming.
  • Do you think you would know whether someone is improvising when performing music? Why or why not?

Go Further!

(optional) Listen to some additional performances and find out if and when you think the musicians are improvising or jamming.


Move On

Return to the Getting Started Jamming Music Learning Playlist