Are you looking for?
- A few ideas for a fresh new way to start off a lesson?
- A few quick improv games to use in a group setting?
- A reward activity for a student’s hard work on an assignment?
- Starter ideas for the next composition:
In each part of this series, to be continued over the next few months, we’ll explore one or two approaches to fun and easy improvisations. This will be an opportunity for us to get a collection of activities for beginning or continuing to bring creativity into our music studios. I’m saying “we” because I’m hoping that as I share my ideas, you will reciprocate! Try these things out, and let us know how they work and how you adapted things for your particular teaching situation. Add other improv ideas that have been successful with your music students.
“Get It Going!” Improv Starter #1 ~ The Creativity Tool Box
Have each student start his own creativity “tool” box, or ring. Start a collection of index cards, in a shoebox (which they can have lots of fun decorating), or on a single ring binder. You can also find pouches and plastic cases for index cards at your local office supply store. Make one to keep in your studio as well. Start the “tool collection” by writing the names of:
- Three different scales, one on each of three cards. (i.e. C major, a minor, D dorian)
- A different interval on each of the next few cards.
- Words describing a weather condition (i.e. sunny day, raging thunder storm, blizzard)
- Dynamic and agogic markings (p, mf, staccato)
- Interesting sounding word/rhythms (kerplunk, giGANtic, thing-a-ma-jig)
- Triads (add chord extensions for more advanced students)
As you start doing this, you will come up with more ideas to add. Your students may even add new ideas. I like to use colored index cards, selecting a different color for each type of tool (scales on blue cards, intervals on green, triads on yellow, etc.)
Now that you have your collection of improvisation tools going, have the student choose (with cards writing side down) from one to three cards (depending on his comfort level with improvising). Ask him to use the idea on the card and just start moving his fingers on the keys and start playing. If at a loss, you, the teacher, may provide a bass line or sustained chords and ask him to join in. You may even need to give him an example to get him going.
Feeling like a fish out of water?
To make teaching improvisation really easy for you, the music teacher, I have written three creativity flip books, Flip for Improvisation, Original, Junior, and Senior. These improv flips actually evolved from the tool box idea. (You can find them at www.PiacereMusicPress.com)
I keep the books on hand in the studio for the students to use in private lessons and group workshops. I will often send one of the flip books home with a student, for the week. Some choose to purchase their own flip to keep. This makes it fun and easy to get going with daily improvs. Having your students improvise on a regular basis is the best way to help them to become more comfortable, and better skilled at improvisation.
PLEASE RESPOND with your results and ideas, so that in the next few months we will have a nice collection of ideas to get some creativity going in our music studios. I can’t wait to hear your ideas!! Check in again soon for my next one!