Trade 8s...with Yourself

Trading 8s is when two musicians take turns (8 bars a piece) soloing over a tune. It's a great way to practice your musical communication skills and train your ear.

This week we'll take the idea of trading 8s and turn it into a practice exercise you can do all by yourself.

Here's how it works: Sing for 8 bars. Play for 8 bars. Repeat.

If you've never tried to sing an improvised solo, you may be surprised by the outcome. Without memorized licks and patterns to fall back on, you'll hear your true musical self coming out in the improvisation.

Don't be alarmed if your sung improvisations are simple or boring at first. Your ears just need a little time catching up. It'll be worth it soon enough.

Or maybe you'll notice just the opposite effect...your sung improvisations sound free and spontaneous and creative. Great! Now try to bring that into your guitar improvisations.

In either case, this exercise will pull your playing up to a new level.

I'll leave you with this final idea. When you start playing a solo, try to pick up where you left off with your sung solo. That is, try to match the dynamic, the range and the rhythmic ideas you set up with your singing.

With this exercise you'll be on your way to a quicker ear and better phrasing in your improvisations!

BONUS TIP: Check out Carl Verheyen's record "Trading 8s" to hear some of the best players in the biz trading 8s. It's a real treat.

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