Earlier this month, one of my junior intermediate students attended the Young Composers' Workshop. The clinician, Robert Rosen, was wonderful with the students. He took them on a "soundwalk" and asked them to describe several sounds using music, such as an alarm bell, a water fountain and a door slamming. They did remarkably well. There's a close relationship between composing and improvising. Mr. Rosen said that the first step to composing is improvisation, while one student described composing as "improvising with an eraser".
I eagerly employed some of the activities used at the workshop. I told my students two things: "do not be afraid to use more than one note at a time" and "do not be afraid to use different parts of the piano". This week, I have been treated to some witty improvisations about puppies playing, kittens fighting over a toy, someone rollerblading down a hill, a creepy walk through a haunted house, a lazy summer day, a child snoring and dramatic thunderstorms.
Here are some interesting articles about improvising:
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