08/7/15

Improv Class in Nova Scotia

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIt’s been a busy summer – 5 weeks away from home. Two weeks at horn camp in New Hampshire and almost three weeks in Nova Scotia. It’s nice to be home, but I enjoyed my time greatly both places. I’ve talked about it here before, but I want to briefly talk about my time teaching at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS.

The wondrous and amazing Ardith Haley, with music ed rock star Dale Lonis were the instigators of this unique course at Acadia. It’s a 2-year masters of music education program that is done mostly through distance learning, with 2 – two week residency sessions (each July) over the two year period of the course. The participants are are all seasoned music teachers, ranging in age (guessing) from late 20’s to late 50’s; they teach all kinds of music – classroom music, band, orchestra, elementary to high school. They are almost all Canadian, mostly from the eastern end of the country, but a few from the middle and west.

My course for this cohort of 15 consisted of 3 hours a day doing nonjazz improvisation. Teaching this group was not like teaching the students back home at the University of Iowa. These folks are professionals – they do music and teach music for a living. They have great attitudes and they learn fast. Thus, it was a supreme treat for me to work with people like this. The only tricky part is the part that they share with anyone doing improv for the first time – they are very apprehensive about it (I was, too) at first.

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12/14/12

Improvised Chamber Music – new book by Jeffrey Agrell

Just published by GIA: Improvised Chamber Music by me.

Excerpt from the Introduction:

The joys and benefits of chamber music are well-known. Everyone has an important role and part to play, so challenge and motivation are built-in. While it’s easy to “hide” in a large ensemble, in chamber music you hear everyone and everyone hears you. So you naturally acquire sharper rhythmic skills, sense of pitch, and sensitivity to appropriate dynamics. It’s a great social adventure as well, working closely together with others to achieve a common purpose.

Nearly every musician with even modest training has had some opportunity to play standard chamber music, be it string quartets, brass or woodwind quintets, or other mixed instrumentations. But what’s missing from nearly everyone’s training is making up one’s own chamber music, i.e. creating the piece as you go along. In this situation where you play without ink, all the joys and benefits of playing chamber music from sheet music are amplified, because you are all responsible every instant for creating a piece of music that makes sense and is satisfying to both performer and audience. The listening skills that are enhanced by traditional chamber music are developed to a much higher level in improvised chamber. The player must instantaneously and continuously analyze melodic shapes and motifs, modes and keys, rhythms, and timbres, then decide the appropriate role – solo/counterpoint/accompaniment/silence – and create it while listening to the whole, evaluating, and adjusting and adapting.

If this sounds overwhelmingly complex and difficult, think this: you already do this every day. It’s called conversation. You take something you already know well (the language) and use in a way that is interesting and meaningful to you to express what you are feeling in the moment. You listen, you respond, you enjoy the interaction. You do the same things in improvised chamber music, except that you can do it with several more people at the same time and still make sense.

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11/3/12

They’re Coming…

Sheet Music

(Photo credit: AKZOphoto)

I just received word from the publisher that my three new classical improv books will be published in time for the Midwest Band Clinic in mid-December. I will give more information at that time, but here are the basics for a little preview of what’s coming:

Improvised Duets for Classical Musicians by Jeffrey Agrell

GIA (www.giamusic.com) G-8381 Spiral bound, 54 pages $16.95

 

 Improvised Chamber Music: Spontaneous Chamber Music Games for Four (or Three or Five) Players by Jeffrey Agrell

GIA (www.giamusic.com) G-8380 Spiral bound, 64 pages $18.95

 

 Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers: Using Musical Games and Aural Pedagogy Techniques as a Dynamic Supplement for Teaching Piano by Jeffrey Agrell and Aura Strohschein

GIA (www.giamusic.com) G-8379 Spiral bound, 66 pages $18.95

 

(PS: if you are a reviewer for a music publication, get in touch with me at jeffrey.agrell@gmail.com)

PPS and shameless plug alert: If you aren’t familiar with them yet, you should also check out my previously published GIA books:

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians (354 p.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

Improv Games for One Player (50 p.)

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