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If you can carry on a conversation, you can improvise on your instrument!

Musical improvisation is a mystery! Students can't improvise without acquiring a secret power! Improvisation is for the advanced jazz student and has no place in concert band!

Not...True...Don't believe one word of what you just read.

Improvising a piece of music is as simple as telling a story to a friend or giving a speech in class.

Short melodic ideas (2 - 6 notes) are just like words....we put a few together to form sentences...and boom! We have an improvisation! We improvise speech all day long. using common phrases already in our vernacular to express ourselves. Music improvisations are formed the same way. Giving a speech is parallel to soloing in a concert and writing a story or extended response is equivalent to planning and writing an arrangement for a band or another musical ensemble.

Improvisation and composing a piece of music require the same exact skill set! Talk about the birds and the stones! Anyone CAN improvise and everyone SHOULD improvise. Creating is the highest level of any art. Improvising is simply writing an essay with pitch, rhythm, and dynamics instead of words.

We will be beginning a serious study of improvisation and composition in our JH Band. Using a study of Music History and compositional techniques as the palette, we are going to start working on creating musical essays bot through in the moment improv and developed tunes and arrangements.

Using Modes and Medieval Music as the basis, students have already created some compositions that very much resemble the sounds of the ancient Gregorian Chant. I hope that we will find a way to debut this new facet of our curriculum at a concert in the spring!!

Everyone in our JH band has the information and skill to create their own musical stories. Now do it..... and do it frequently....can't wait to hear your creativity!!

Here's an example of our students' modal compositions using Medieval style polyphony. We use these melodies together and then improvise using a mode and a drone to support the soloist.


The holiday break is a great time to get ahead, try some things you haven't had a chance to explore, and re-charge after a long first half of the year!

Get after it!

Until next time!

Mr. D

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