New to Musical Improv

Musical Improv in the Bay 101

A quick guide to getting involved

About Musical Improv

What is musical improv?

If you've seen a regular improv show, imagine the same thing, but with songs! We get a suggestion from the audience and make everything up from there. Every melody, every rhyme, every lyric, every song, entirely made up on the spot.

Who is musical improv for?

Everyone. Musical improv isn't about the quality or training of your voiceit's about what you do with it. Some musical improvisers have backgrounds in singing or theater. Others only sing in the shower. If you enjoy improv and you enjoy singing, musical improv is for you.

How does it work?

A lot of folks think we must pre-plan, but the truth is, everything is improvised. We spend a lot of time studying song formats and practicing skills like rhyming and harmonizing in real time in order to perform the magic trick that is crafting beautiful, fun and funny songs out of thin air.

Getting Started

Take a Class

The easiest way to start learning musical improv is to take a class. Musical improv classes are available all around the bay through All Out Comedy, BATS, Endgames Improv, Leela and Made Up Improv. Learn about musical improv classes in the bay area.

Attend a Jam

A jam is a free or low-cost event held at an improv theater where attendees get the chance to play freely. Every musical improv jam is different, but they are a great way to get some stage time in a low-stakes, supportive setting. Learn about musical improv jams in the bay area.

See a Show

A great way to learn about musical improv is to watch it live. Observing experienced improvisers as they navigate scenes and songs can help you understand the artform better and give you inspiration. See a calendar of upcoming musical improv shows in the bay area. 

What Comes Next?

Getting Reps

Once you’ve learned some fundamentals of musical improv, the next step is getting reps, which just means DOING musical improv. You can get reps by regularly attending musical improv jams, joining a musical improv team or grabbing a bunch of friends and making up songs together.

Classes & Workshops

No matter how advanced a musical improviser gets, there’s always new tools and techniques to learn. Advanced classes and workshops are a great way to develop your craft and build on your skills. Try different teachers and different theaters and see what helps you.

Connect with the Community

Getting to know other musical improvisers through classes, jams, shows or social media is an important part of developing as a musical improviser. Don’t head straight out after a jam or showstick around and offer to socialize with others! Join the "Musical Improv in the Bay Area" Facebook group.