improvising music

Musing about Music Improvisation

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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