As we returned to (mostly) in-person teaching and learning, I found myself wondering if I could create a short class that would actually work best remotely. I thought about things the internet does well, like encouraging a feeling of connectedness while simultaneously allowing users to be completely isolated. To exploit this paradox, I began teaching series of guided improvisation in short series from time to time.
The idea is simple. Much like a guided meditation session, participants will use a series of instructions to lead them through an open improvisation session. Each participant will be muted, free to make as much or as little sound as they like. The instructions will appear on the screen as prompts. I’ll be playing, too. You’ll have the option of turning up the sound to see how I am interpreting the prompts, or you can keep me muted as you like. At the end, we will have a brief discussion, during which you can share experiences, ask questions or ask to practice something specific with me.
The sessions are open to any instrument, including voice, and can even be adapted for movement. Though it is probably not suitable for complete instrumental beginners, complete beginners to improvisation are welcome. The prompts will contain a mix of very open and very specific, so even experienced improvisers should have plenty of inspiration.
Each class will be unique. To prepare for the classes, I notice things I do when I improvise freely or I explore themes that call out to me. I’ve created the instructions out of things I find myself doing when I play alone. The prompt might be very specifc: “Play and hold a single tone; Keep imagining it while you play the next one.” Or very open: “Play a rhythm you would not easily be able to write down.” Though we might have time to practice a bit during the discussion, the overall goal is for each person to connect to their artistic selves through the experience and discipline of in-the-moment-composition, otherwise known as improvisation. After the class, I send you notes and the powerpoint slides.
I used this format in a recent class for the Dalcroze Society of America as part of their Dalcroze Lab series. You can actually view a recording of that class here (note: there is a charge for this).
Please join me and spread the word. Classes will meet on Saturday between 1:00-1:45pm Eastern on January 23rd through February 25th, 2023. Drop-ins are welcome at $10 per session, or you can pay for 5 classes. Respond to the contact form on this page, and I’ll send you the information. You can also visit the classes page here, which I’ve also updated to include the upcoming Dalcroze and Dalcroze teacher-training classes at the Kaufman Music Center.
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