Michael Powers TED Talk notes, Reno Uke Fest May 3, 2018

1. Transfer your knowledge- All of us have a wealth of musical knowledge, even if you are a beginning musician-

2. Getting ideas for Improvisation- 

Listen to MULTIPLE sources to get your influences. You will create your own unique blend or gumbo to create your signature. Especially listen to instruments that HAVE to breath…Trumpet, Sax, Singers, Whistlers etc-

Create phrasing that is akin to old school ‘morse code’ leaving spaces for the translation of the transmission-

3. Build your phrasing ideas within the structural context of the musical piece.

Know the scales

Know the chords

Know the Context (‘tone’ vs NOTE)

Using intervallic jumps in addition to scalar motion

4. “Half step slip” Once you get your phrase idea, use the “half step slip” by approaching your target note from a half step above the target, and also a half step below-

Also works with chords-

Building up your musical vocabulary of “licks” 

Once you have your ‘lick’, play it in every possible position

Chromatic Scale for Dexterity and to build sustain and legato-

CRAB WALK to build dexterity-Two opposing chromatic scales

using  fingers 1-2-3-4

First number is LOWER in pitch, or on the string closer to you-





Then keep the higher note the same and then skip a string with the lower note. Then bring the high note string down

The try all positions-


Creativity is NOT a talent. NOT based on IQ, it is a way of operating

Based on John Cleese insights-


Closed is the Logical side of your brain in control

OPEN is when you are in a state of PLAY

OPEN for the spark of an idea. not in any kind of judgement mode

CLOSED to actually implement the idea-

Foster the proper conditions to get into PLAY and OPEN mode-

Space (Create an undisturbed oasis)

Time (define boundaries of the START and STOP time of your creative time)

90 minutes is a sweet spot-

Sing along with the notes-

Start with ideas that are away from the instrument-

HEAR the idea-

SING the idea-

FIND the idea on the instrument and PLAY it

SING and PLAY the idea-

Also go the OTHER way

Learn licks by incorporating them into your own unique musical identity and signature!