New Book! Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups

Sorry – I don’t have a picture of the cover yet (will add to this announcement as soon as I get one) but: GIA (Chicago) has just published Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups by me and my co-author Patrice Madura Ward-Steinmann of Indiana University. More than 100 improvisation games for vocalists and vocal groups. Foreword by Patricia Campbell Sheehan. From the Foreword: “Singers, including choral singers and those with a soloist trajectory in progress, as well as those instrumentalists who find themselves drawn to the potential of giving voice to their musical ideas, will benefit from the playful vocal expressions that are invoked here. This collective of “musical gaming” has the potential of releasing singers to a freedom to be musically playful, and of leading them to the joy of discovery of a full rein of musical parameters that can only happen via vocal improvisation.”

You can order a copy from GIA here.

Kind words about the book:

Continue reading


Classical Improv Jam 3 – Pulsed Drone (video)

Third in a series of duo improvisation videos that illustrate improv games from Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians.


Classical Improv Jam #2 – (video) Drone + Harmonic Series

This time Lin and I trade solos over a drone; the soloist’s notes are limited to the notes of the natural horn, i.e. the harmonic series.


Classical Jam #1! (improv Video)

My book Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians (354 p,. 2008, GIA Publ.) has been out for a while and has enjoyed a certain modest success among classical musicians who would like to start creating their own music (aka improvising). But it has lacked one thing: video/audio examples of what this classical improv thing is. There is of course no one right answer – what it sounds like will depend on whose playing, and even the same players may have wildly different versions of any particular game. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have some examples of a few possibilities of some of the games.  Continue reading


Improv and Young Musicians

One of my favorite blogs is Dr. Noa Kageyama’s The Bulletproof Musician – he hits it out of the park just about every time. His latest post and one that I highly recommend you read – now – is “Why Improvisation Should Be Part of Every Young Musician’s Training. Wonderful article with some excellent research backing it up. I have only two qualms about it: improv needs to loosen its common association with jazz, as in improv=jazz; improv can take many forms – jazz is just one. And: Improv should be part of not just young musician’s training, but part of the life and continuing training of every musician of any age and instrument.


Santana on Improvisation

English: its an image of Carlos Santana Españo...

Certain people are very mental. They need to have rules and concepts and directions and scales and theory in order to play. But that’s not what music is about. Music has the same significance as beams of light coming out of the clouds and giving information to plants. Every note should be like a beam of light. You’re giving information to the listener, and you’re reminding them they also have light and significance. That’s improvising to me. The other stuff is just like going ‘da-da-da-da-da.’ It’s nothing” – Carlos Santana


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