Jazz Improvisation Scatting Tutorial

Learning to improvise is a process. Becoming amazing at it take practice, ear training and starting small and building up. One fab way to get started is to scat the melody and just deviate from one or two notes as you go. It means you don’t get lost in the music and go out of pitch and it helps your improvisation to stay anchored and sound good – even if you’re scatting over a more complicated chord progression.

So today we’ll break this technique down over ‘Summer Wind’ – a well know jazz song with a nice, easy chord progression.

Nicola x

Sing the original melody using ‘lah’

  • Pick a section of the melody that you would like to scat. This is usually going to be the bridge or ‘B Section’.
  • Then sing through the melody as is, but instead of saying the lyrics, just use a Lah Lah Lah sound.


Pick three or four scat syllables to try out.

  • These can be really simple like Doo Bah Boh, or Dee Dl, Dat… etc just go with the flow here.
  • Then sing over the same spot but use your scat syllables instead of Lah.


Keep it simple.

  • The trick to keeping your scatting palatable and in ‘ fashion’ is to keep things really simple. Don’t go for epic 7 minute scat solos, just aim to sing four bars or so for now.
  • Keeping it short and sweet means that you can add scat into your songs no matter what genre you sing.


Improvise the melody.

  • Once you’ve gone through those steps, then you can try improvising the melody a bit. This is another art form in itself and you do need to develop your musical ear to get this right but again, simple is best.
  • So start by singing the existing melody then add a couple of new notes in there, then go back to the original melody again. Eventually your ear will start picking up new notes that work.

Have fun with it!!

Nicola x


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