Many of the great musicians of the past were illiterate and obviously not being able to the read and write they were not going to be reading music either therefore their musical learning came from listening to other people play and working things from recording. They also didn’t really have any significant understanding of scales and chords for the most part sand therefore understood music as if they were phrases spoken by famous musician so for instance a line that Louis Armstrong played would have been referred to as something that Louis said.
I once heard the quote by Albert King referring to Jimi Hendrix in which Albert said, ‘Jimi Hendrix plays my blues and he should go and play his own’, at the time I found this a rather ridiculous remark but in hindsight he was referring to something from a completely different paradigm of musical thinking than my with a different understanding of how music was formed. Indeed as Albert King was one of the great sources of inspiration to Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and many others it was quite true that these people were playing his blues as saying it with his ‘words’.
What is significant here is that we understand these great players were so driven by what they heard and not what they intellectualised; they understood music as a language form which if we can get back to that way of thinking would help our playing to be more musical and not so scale orientated.
Just express words and rhythms through the notes that you play and by developing ideas of others remembering that these are truly phrases of a language; this is a great way for children to learn to play.
www.bluescampuk.co.uk Three days of learning to play music in a band. The music summer school