Yesterday, the mailman brought the "Worldwide Chamber Music Workshop Program" by ACMP - The Chamber Music Network (www.acmp.net). This treasure trove contains listings from almost all over the world, Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, Japan and even China. From amateur to semi-pro or even professional, for each age group and for many music styles (classic, traditional, ...).
All one would need is the time to attend and a little money to get there, but in my dreams...
For years, I've been trying - quite unsuccessfully - to improve my ability in playing by heart, learning by ear or improvising.
As for learning by ear, my teacher patiently provides a little exercise between the warm-up and the main part of the lesson, which - slowly but surely - shows some progress in my ability to do that.
On Saturday, I took part in a very inspiring improvisation workshop. The coaches came all the way from Vienna: Johanna and Resi from the extraordinary Austrian string quartet Netnakisum. Without further ado, Resi startet laying a rhythmic foundation while Johanna improvised a melody. The participants were told to just add their part to the accompaniment. As soon as everybody was in a groove, Johanna got up and took a seat among the participants, while Resi started to play a melody, slow, at speed, slow again - repeating the phrase over and over, some of us playing along (or anyway, trying their very best), some still playing rhythm.
Now everybody had the chance to do a little solo and then to hide again in the crowd. Since we were already playing something we didn't know and everybody was in the same predicament, it actually worked - each and everybody played something resembling a solo. Some were great, some were good, some just were (mine, for example), but everybody took the chance.
Then, Resi introduced the second part of the melody, repeating the above procedure, and finally the third and last part.
In the evening, when all groups played the music they had rehearsed during the day, Resi went from one workshop participant to the next and told us that we would all be onstage in a few minutes to do our little tap dance again. This time, some copped out. I forced myself to do it, played something that was (even shorter than in the afternoon), but it was.
Now, there's a long road still ahead of me, but I finally took the first step.
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