Teaching improvisation

April 17, 2007

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Our Dean is hot on us including improvisation as an integral part of our students’ education. The question is: how do you do it? Is it a course by itself? Is it part of theory class? Is it a weekly endeavor? or one of 2 or 3 term projects done outside of class?

I wonder whether some people are incapable of improvising — their brains are not wired to do it, whereas some it is completely natural. Is learning to improvise something that should be started with children and college students are already too late?

As composers do style composition, might it be appropriate to do “style improvisation?” The thing that worries me most about institutionalizing improvisation is what I call the “sandbox factor” meaning that the intellectual content in more touchy-feely than a typical rigorous academic offering.

Again, any opinions on this issue are much appreciated.

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