Nachmanovitch Improv Workshop

Cover of "Free Play: Improvisation in Lif...

Stephen Nachmanovitch is the author of the mother of all improv books – Free Play. Everyone breathing shoujld read this book. I just received notice that he will be doing an improv workshop with Maria Kluge entitled “Improvising and Mindfulness” Feb. 27 – March 1 in Osterloh, Germany.

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Improv in Florida, Part 2

African Grey Parrot - Psittacus erithacus - macro

Florida improv adventures, continued. I’m at the University of Northern Florida as a guest of pianist/composer Gary Smart, Gary is a piano wizard (who can switch from stride to avant garde without missing a beat) and composer who has won a slew of awards, who met Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein and others as a young composer and prize winner, who has lived in Alaska, Japan, Germany, Wyoming, and Florida, who has an African Grey Parrot named Doc (who gladly sits on his shoulder for hours and who has his own distinct words for “Time to feed the parrot!” and “Bored!” and who loves to rips No. 2 pencils to bits with his beak), and, who has one of the two classes in classical (nonjazz) improv in the US that every music student must take before graduation (the other is taught by Charles Young at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) (I have had one for 11 years, but it’s an elective and not required).

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Smart Improvising, Or: Improv in the Key(s) of Florida

Topographic map of the State of Florida, USA (...

Spring break isn’t for a week, but I had the chance to come to the University of Northern Florida as a guest of pianist/composer/improviser professor Gary Smart to do some improv  workshops and performing and I leaped at it.

Gary and I go way, way back. There used to be (sigh) such a thing as a Ford Foundation grant for cities to have a composer in residence. A fantastic idea! I was in Anchorage (Alaska) playing in an army band (my clever way of getting out of the draft during the Viet Nam War was to enlist). It was a great time. I was doing a lot of music: playing in the Anchorage Symphony, singing in the community choir, taking lessons, giving lessons, horn choir, practicing hard eight days a week. Near the end of my tour I applied to grad school in horn (U of Wisconsin-Madison – John Barrows); it was too far to go to audition, so I had to make a tape. I hired a woman who had a DMA in piano performance. I gave her the notes some weeks before we had to record… and… she didn’t learn her part very well. Came time to tape, and it wasn’t good. It wouldn’t do at all. I was desperate. Time was running out. I had to send something in.

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