When first starting to improvise or compose, the silence surrounding the instrument or the piece blank manuscript paper in front of students can be rather daunting. Therefore I always begin creative activities within a genre that is familiar to students.
Outside of your studio, what engagement do your students have with music? This is a question that I am always keen to ask new students. The majority of my students hear pop music on the radio, ‘muzak’ in shopping centres, soundtracks in movies, ring tones and advertising jingles. Only a small minority of my students hear live music regularly and an even smaller minority are exposed to new classical repertoire outside of their lessons.
With this in mind, the first improvisational or compositional activities in my studio usually stem from a response to a visual stimulus and more often that not they are a response to a short film. [···]