i've started learning jazz piano for six months, and i've been practicing bebop improvisation for almost four months. i had played music and the piano (though not formally) as a hobby since i was young, but i hadn't taken lessons since elementary school. i heard jazz for the first time in my first year of university, which was around one year ago, and though i can't say it was love at first sight it graudally became my obsession.
but i can't improvise! i've been doing everything i've told to do: transcribe, analyze solos, learn licks, practice 5 hours a day, practice scales, listen to jazz as much as you can, etc etc..
it sounds very, very bad, and i'm afraid to practice because i'm worried it'll just get worse.

am i missing something?

these are recording of my improvisation on my "good" days:
https://snd.sc/11kfk7n />https://snd.sc/11kexts />
There are 16 comments, leave a comment.
sorry, here are the links again:
sounds good to me. what don't you like about it?  perhaps you should analyze your own solos.  throw out what you don't like and build on what you do like.

it's truly a life long journey.  enjoy it!
you say you started jazz piano six months ago and you are at this stage. i have no idea what your issue is. jazz is complex, as many have said, it is similar to learning a foreign language. your music sounds pretty damned good to me, you may not be fluent yet but you are definitely on your way. i don't know about practicing 5 hours a day though as i hope you are still at the university and devoting time to your other studies also. do not make this too much work, you sound fine especially for your limited time. keep up the good work.
maybe the problem is not your standard of playing, but your perception of your standard of playing. learning to enjoy what you hear when you play is where the fun is for me. i found kenny werners book "effortless mastery" a very interesting read, although maybe not to everyones taste.

actually this is foot tapping stuff :-)
i guess when we listen to our own playing, we do so'very analitacally' and get caught up in small details.

when others listen to our music, they seem to hear what's happening overall, so they somehow get lost in the music and enjoy it more.

if this is what you've achieved six months into your 'jazz journey', you're gonna be fine. kenny werner's book is definately a gold mine for how to find your feet and keep them steady whilst developing your music.
thanks everyone for your encouragement and advice :) it means a lot!
yes, you need to change the way you go about it.

improvisatoin is about target tones, avoid tones, and reharmonization. it is not about scales or other things that often come up in conversation. jazz improvisation is an overlay on top of a diatonic foundation, so learn the target tones and avoid tones for diatonic chord progressions first, and then learn how to reharmonize.

don't transcribe until you have a good understanding of both diatonic harmony and jazz reharmonization techniques. otherwise you will misinterpret what you transcribe.

finally, improvisation is about establishing tonality. there's two different kinds of tonality: there is the tonality of the key of the moment, and there is the tonality of temporary tonic chords. so before you do anything else, learn how to identify and pick out these chords.

music and jazz education
sorry, i should add that there are certain exercises which greatly help improvisational skills. they involve reducing the melody tones to the downbeat. i've written about how to do it on other forums - maybe search for "mwtzzz reducing melody" or something like that.
give it a few years and you will probably look back and be amazed.
my goodness...i don't think you need to change the way you're going about anything, and you certainly don't need to be thinking about target tones or avoid tones, whatever those might be (no offense, michael).  

you play great.  just keep listening and playing.  it take a a life time and it's fun!
no offense taken dr. whack!
actually i didn't listen to him because his links didn't work.
so i provided my standard "stock" response whenever someone asks for advice on improvisation, because it's usually where they need improvement.
i really appreciate all your inputs. thanks so much. i think i was estimating what i thought i should sound like in a couple of years and judging myself with that standard, forgetting the value of the process (which won't allow me to skip those years ahead). i'm trying to enjoy the journey as much as i can, and, whenever hearing something that moves me, studying it to the death.
i'll add my 2 cents and reiterate what others have said.

first, analyze your own solos. record what you play and be sure to listen to it. you know what good jazz is, listening to your own playing is one of the fastest ways to improve.

second, learn a tune by memorizing it in your head first.  that is, learn to sing it with the words, or hum it, learn to sing the solos in it, learn everything about it.

then, when that song and the solos in it are part of your soul, then sit down and play what you know.

there are no shortcuts, but quality time spent focusing on what you want to learn will get you to where you want to go faster than anything else.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
to scot's last response, i would add:

throw away the lead sheet/ real book/ written chords. learn the melody and then try to harmonize it yourself. if you need help figuring out the chords, listen to a recording, but try figuring out most (or all) the chords yourself without referring to sheet music
hey man i had the exact same problem. i spent years as a classical musician and really struggled moving into jazz. my main issue that took me ages to overcome was thinking purely of the notes from the chord i'm in. it sounded really disjoint because for example i would play in d major then suddenly play in f sharp minor. try figure out some notes that are the same over the entire progression and try improvise using just those.
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