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 Game of the Day: A Giant Pineapple!

1 player and an audience (e.g. of Second Graders).

John Manning teaches tuba and euphonium all day long at The University of Iowa School of Music, but after hours he has a remarkable creative side that manifests itself in various ways, one of which is bringing his tuba to his daughter’s second grade classroom. In this game John asks each child in turn for a suggestion for something that he will then depict in music on the tuba. The creativity of children this age is still unbridled; the educational system has not yet squelched the joyous creativity spontaneity of the child at this age, and they are still immune to worrying about appearing “cool” to classmates (making primary schools a terrific place to bring musical improvisation). So John hears wonderful combinations of words and images and never knows what to expect: “A million gophers!”; “Purple cheese!”; “A big bug!”; “My dog!”; “Sand!”; “A red truck!”; and so on. Try this yourself the nearest class of 2nd graders – but be ready for anything!