The Books

Books on classical improvisation by Jeffrey Agrell (all published by GIA Music) (detailed below):

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians Vol. I (2008, 354 p.)

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians Vol. II (2016, 372 p.)

Improv Games for One Player

Improv Duets for Classical Musicians

Improvised Chamber Music

Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers (with co-author Aura Strohschein)

Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choral Groups (with co-author Patrice Madura Ward-Steinmann)


Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians Vol. I, published by GIA Publications. 354 p. (2008)

A collection of 500+ music improvisation games of all kinds that enables traditionally trained instrumentalists, vocalists, pianists, educators, students, amateurs, professionals, composers, music therapists, pianists, conductors, and even jazz players to create their own music without jazz, and includes extensive explanatory and resource material.


  • 1. Introduction : Why improvise?
  • 2. Who should use this book?
  • 3. Suggestions for use and sample lists of games
  • 4. Musical training for improvisation
  • 5. Technical training for improvisation
  • 6. The art of accompaniment in improvisation
  • 7. Introduction to the games
  • 8. Improvisation game techniques
  • 9. Motivic development techniques
  • 10. Quick-start improvisation game favorites
  • 11. Warm-up games
  • 12. Rhythm games
  • 13. Accent games
  • 14. Dynamics games
  • 15. Melody games
  • 16. Form games
  • 17. Harmony games
  • 18. Bass line games
  • 19. Aural games
  • 20. Nontraditional score games
  • 21. Conducting games
  • 22. Energy/mood games
  • 23. Texture games
  • 24. Timbre games
  • 25. Composition games
  • 26. Depiction games
  • 27. Technique games
  • 28. Accompaniment games
  • 29. Style games
  • 30. Text games
  • 31. Storytelling games
  • 32. Miscellaneous games
  • 33. Improv set-ups
  • 34. Extended combination games
  • 35. Improvisation principles
  • 36. Improvisation books, articles, and links
  • 37. Constructing improvisation compositions
  • 38. Comprehensive musicianship chart
  • 39. Sound-painting gestures : the basics
  • 40. Chord symbols reference list
  • 41. Scale types : study groups
  • 42. Scale and chord chart
  • 43. Variants
  • 44. Patterns and scales
  • 45. Cycles
  • 46. Familiar tunes
  • 47. Musical styles and forms
  • 48. Improv starter generator
  • 49. Creative percussion instruments
  • Indices



Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians Vol. II (2016, GIA, 372 p.) 642 new nonjazz improvisation games!!Cover Vol. II

Table of Contents:


Table of Contents

Part I – Introduction

Introduction to the Games

List of Games By Chapter

Part II – Improvisation Games

Warm-Up Games

Rhythm Games

Melody Games

Harmony Games

Accompaniment Games

Aural Games

Bass Line Games

Depiction Games

Style Games

Nontraditional Score Games

Technique Games

Timbre Games

Composition Games

Texture Games

Text Games

Audience Games

Storytelling Games

Conducting Games

Movement Games

Miscellaneous Games

Part III – Resources

Resources for Improvisation

Improvisation Class Procedures

Improvisation Techniques

Motivic Development Techniques

Classical Garage Band Ideas

Familiar tunes – list

Styles & Forms – list

Patterns & Scales

Scale and Chord Chart



Final Thoughts: Marketing

Part IV – Game Indexes

All Games in Alphabetical Order

By Chapter in Alphabetical Order

Improv Games for One Player, a portable book (50 p.) of games for one player for use in warm-ups and working on technique and musicianship. 50 p. (GIA):

Improv Duets for Classical Musicians – a portable book (46 p.) of duets for any two instruments at any level. Double your improv fun and play with a partner!

Improv Duets Cover



Improvised Chamber Music – a portable book (55 p.) for four (or three or five) players that enables a small group to quickly get in on the joys of spontaneous chamber music. (GIA)

Imp Chamb Mus Cover


Creative Pedagogy for Piano Teachers (with co-author Aura Strohschein) – a portable book (48 p.) that equips piano teachers to introduce their students to nonjazz creative music quickly and easily. Watch parent’s faces at their children’s next recital when the child first plays a printed piece and follows it with a piece that the child has invented themselves.

Creative Pno Ped Cover


 Vocal Improvisation Games for Singers and Choirs (with co-author Patrice Madura Ward Steinmann 0f Indiana University). Hot off the presses (late October 2014). Foreword by Patricia Sheehan Campbell. 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.”