12/14/14

Teaching Improvisation with Matt Van Brink

MattVanBrink2Every so often I receive an echo from improv people out there in the real world who are making it happen, changing lives, translating theory into practice, discovering new stuff, experimenting, teaching, learning. I recently got a wonderful note from one of these folks: Matt Van Brink of the Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art of Bronxville NY who passes along in detail some of his recent improv adventures. With his permission and to extend the learning of us all I reprint his letter here. Thanks, Matt!

Dear Jeff –

I just wanted to let you know how great it was to use your book during my two-week summer composition and songwriting intensive [ http://goo.gl/0CZuPC ] this past August. I had a group of twelve students, ages 10-17, some who had written compositions before, some who hadn’t, but all of whom chose to spend two weeks working on new pieces. By the end of the camp, each student had composed a short piece and presented it in what turned out to be an impressive and heartwarming concert. Two students wrote songs that they played and sang themselves and the rest composed instrumental works.

But since there are many, many hours to fill during this 9-5 Monday to Friday camp, we have a nice opportunity for play, which I strategically put at the beginning of the day. I’d like to share with you the daily schedule, since the improv component fit in at the perfect time of day for it.

Part 1, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Stretching & alignment, Improvisation & games, a short break, theory, and deep listening (whose playlists I would improvise).

Then after lunch, Part 2, from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Clausura I (individual work on their pieces in the practice rooms), Kickball and running around, Canons & chorales, Clausura II or guest musicians, and a short warm-down at the end of the day.

For improv hour, I had them bring their instruments, so we had a nice motley assemblage of clarinets, guitars, singers, pianists, and a saxophone. And everyone took a turn on the Orff marimba and had a go inside the piano. The students loved almost every game that I presented to them. We started out on the first day with “what’s in a name” and it was a huge hit. We discovered a few of us had names whose syllables and stresses matched, so we even tried one’s tune with the other’s name. It was really playful and set the tone well for the improv segment for the next two weeks.

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12/3/14

Richard Kessler, Mannes, and New Music Curricula (I)

It always gets my attention when I learn about shakers and movers who are dragging music curricula (kicking and screaming or otherwise) into the current decade, century, and millennium. Richard Kessler at Mannes in NYC is one of them.

I’m grateful to my friend and improv buddy Lin Foulk (horn prof at Western Michigan U) for pointing out the follow article (which you should definitely read):

http://musicschoolcentral.com/one-nyc-music-school-changing-future-music-education/

11/28/14

CMS Study on Undergrad Music Major Curriculum – Highlights I

The College Music Society (CMS), under the leadership of President Patricia Shehan Campbell recently issued a “Report of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Music Major” (TFUMM): “Transforming Music Study from its Foundations: A Manifesto for Progressive Change in the Undergraduate Preparation of Music Majors.”

We all should read the entire document, but it’s too long to be quoted here. Following are some key sentences that caught my eye:

The task force convened to consider “what it means to be an educated musician in the 21st Century.”

Despite repeated calls for change to assure the relevance of curricular content and skill development to music outside the academy, the academy has remained isolated, resistant to change, and too frequently regressive rather than progressive in its approach to undergraduate education.

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Improv Quote of the Day: Ear & Eye Players

Improv Quote of the Day: Ear & Eye Players

Eye players read music. Ear players improvise. Today’s students need instruction in both. Why?...

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Tag: bradley-sowash, classical-improvisation, improv-quote, improvisation, playing-by-ear

Improv Game for Horn Players: Role Playing

One great thing about horn camp is that you have time to do all sorts of things that you seldom get ...

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Tag: french-horn, horn, horn-camp, horn-technique, improv, improv-game, improvisation, kendall-betts-horn-camp

Soundpainting #32: Duo/Trio

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Tag: evan-mazunik, soundpainting, zaha

Classical Improv Jam #6: Dueling Bumblebees (video)

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Tag: classical-improvisation, classical-jam, horn, improv-video-2, improvisation, jeffrey-agrell, lin-foulk

Improv Game of the Day: Genre Festival!

Improv Game of the Day: Genre Festival!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] The Kitchen Sink (Photo credit: .michael.newman.)[/ca...

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Tag: improv-game, incompetech, kevin-mcleod, royalty-free-music, soundtrack-music