Improv and theory resources
Looking specifically for resources for a middle school student who wants to learn to improvise. This is something I do reasonably well and would like to incorporate more into my teaching anyway but have never taught systematically. If anyone knows of a curriculum/resource that would work either to use directly, or as a good starting point for me to to work with, please let me know! Stuff like Christian Howes' course is *probably* outside our immediate scope, though it's on my list.
Related, while I teach a lot of theory/ear training in my lessons, I'd like a fuller systematic theory resource for my interested ms/hs students. I know there are good online resources out there and plan on researching this over the holiday break but does anybody have recommendations? I'd love something that presents the theory notation and aural together, which i feel like an online resource could probably do very well.
Thanks for any leads!
Creative Strings at christianhowes.com. It's jazz violin stuff, but it might be useful. Improv can be self-taught, though it varies from person to person because some people automatically learn to improvise without training. You can ask her to play an improvised melody at her lesson, or you can suggest that she spend some time improvising in the practice room without accompaniment. You can also find some music, preferrably a pop song or the like, or an accompaniment/karaoke track, and she can improvise a melody over that.
That's my speciality! I teach jazz/swing improvisation to university level classical violinists. There are many paths to learn improvisation but for me, the best one is the one that comes from self discovery; it's the most natural way. What I mean by that is that the student discovers a musician that he/she likes so much that he/she tries to emulate said musician. And then this leads to the discovery of other musicians, and on it goes until the student has created his/her own style.
Thanks Denis! I can't wait to check these out!
So what I'm.getting both from you guys and my study is, it's really all about the style. You start from there and then identify your constructs. My improv "style" is still pretty classically based with a bit of fiddle. So, say my student wants to improvise like Lindsey Stirling and be able to jam in a band, what other violinists might anybody bridge to from there? :)
If she wants to improvise in a specific style, it's a really good idea to immerse yourself in that style and get a good feel for it. You can also practice improvising with a jam band or backing track. Classical-style improv is good to start with, as that's what she's used to. Also, another way to start improv could be to imagine you are writing a composition and are planning it out on your instrument. It's especially good if you want to compose music, and it gets your creative mindset going. Also remember that there are virtually no "real" rules around improvisation. The only one I can think of for improvising alone is that the improv must sound melodic and pleasing (e.g not scale-like). If you're improvising with others, you must harmonically match them. It's a matter of analyzing and anticipating the chord changes and following along in a harmonic sense as best as you can. If you're improvising with a recorded backing track or are improvising over a pre-written song (i.e vocals and accompaniment are already established, but you aren't), the more familiar you are with the song, the better your improv will be because you'll know where the chord changes are.
Hi Kathryn, so you say that she is interested in Lindsey Stirling's music! That's already a big clue and a good starting point of where to start. I didn't know that Lindsey improvised, and it's probably very minimal if there is any.
BTW, here's an example of what I mean when I say you can learn a lot from existing classical pieces.
Jazz Philharmonic from Randy Sabien and Bob Phillips is good. Its meant for a class of mixed instruments, but can be done solo also. If you just want a good, simple to understand way to get started, that could be it. Also, Jamey Aebersold book #1 would work also to get off the ground. These are both jazz, yet the improv concepts hold true for any style, and the main thing to accomplish first is just to give the student a basic answer to "How do I decide what notes to play?!?"
Denis I listened to tcha limberger on YouTube . His video was inspirational . I enjoyed it so much . Thank you
Wish I'd learned about this long ago when I was a student. I started only when I was in my late 60s, but discovered -- to my utter surprise -- that I could easily improvise an accompaniment in folk or jazz, in clubs and at jam sessions. If somebody had taught me this as a student, or even hinted at the possibility, I'd have had a lot more fun as a musician over the years. But in those days classical violinists were usually taught to stick to the score.
I do not improvise, but my adult grandson's band did (Steepravineband.com) for their 5 year run, including 3 CDs. From what I could see and hear, there are a lot of standard "licks" that are fit into different keys and melody situations in that kind of music. They only recorded their own songs, but their stage performances would generally include at least one of their Stephane Grappelli/Django Reinherdt interpretations (i.e., "After You've Gone" and "Dark Eyes" - as good as the original in my opinion). Of course in performance, by the last couple of years of Steep Ravine's, run those songs were never done the same way twice in performance. Their violinist was a classically trained violinist with his college degree in violin performance.
Agreed! I have started to pay much closer attention to what the background violinist is doing on youtubes or concerts, in anything from folk to country to jazz, and those standard licks are an excellent basis to start. One needs also, in performance, to discover a different and more active way of listening as the music is unfolding.