Musical improvisation is a uniquely fulfilling form of musical expression and an essential component of comprehensive music learning. To improvise is to demonstrate understanding of music in much the same way as the ability to rephrase a paragraph in one's own words is a measure of language comprehension. Musicians who improvise bring greater understanding through audiation to the music they listen to, perform, read, and write.
Mr. Patrick Urban will teach the Musical Improv students the music learning theory that will help them each become a better player. These steps, when combined effectively can help the students to be a more complete musician, and a self confident performer.
The daily events will focus on the following skills:
Singing first. To improvise meaningfully, the instrumentalist must learn to play the instrument as an extension of the inner audiation instrument. Singing is the key.
Learning lots of tunes by ear. Learning a large repertoire of tunes is at the heart of improvisation. The objective is for the student to learn so many melodies and and bass lines that he begins to hear harmonic progressions ("the changes") and generate his own melodic lines.
Learning bass lines. A capable improvisor audiates in at least three separate "tracks" simultaneously. As he creates his improvisation, he also has an ongoing awareness of both the melody and the bass line of the tune to which he is improvising. Knowing the bass line, otherwise known as root melody, is the foundation for understanding the harmony of a tune. Students should learn to sing the bass line just as they would any other rote song.
Focusing on the ears. Beginning improvisors are sometimes shown a set of written notes and then are told to use those notes somehow to create their own unique musical ideas. Lacking the ability to audiate the melody, bass line, and form of the tune, however, the student can do little more than explore aimlessly what he sees on the page or chalkboard. Likewise, students are often told the theory of intervals, chord spellings, and tonal functions, but such intellectual understanding in the absence of aural ability is of little value. A better approach is to put notation and theory aside for a while and encourage the student to rely entirely on audiation.
Composing melodies. After learning many tunes, initiate the idea of improvisation by creating responses to familiar songs and musical phrases performed by another individual.
Improvising with tonal and rhythm patterns. To improvise intelligently, one must have something to improvise with. Learning sequence activities help the student develop the tonal and rhythmic vocabulary necessary for successful improvisation in classroom activities. By improvising tonal patterns and rhythm patterns in learning sequence activities, students build a foundation for combining tonal and rhythm elements successfully when improvising to a tune.
This process is inspired and adapted for Suzuki based learners from GIML - The Gordon Institute for Music Learning. GIML.org