At the end of my first semester teaching improv class, I am smiling about how much fun it was, despite the very small class. We practiced some great ear-training exercises, like follow the leader by repeating a 4-beat snippet of melody, predictably trickier the less diatonic the melody. Another good drill we liked (which you can do by yourself at the piano), is to play a chord, then, eyes-closed, play another note and figure out by ear how it fits with the chord.
We tried techniques to break out of ruts, like putting a speech on the music stand and “playing” the speech. Sometimes our warmups were the most sensitive. Usually I forgot to turn on the recorder for the first, and best, one.
We listened to a bit of Jeffrey Agrell and friends’ wonderful CD “Mosaics”, which helped us open up to the idea of letting one voice have a lot of space to solo, rather than jumping in and thickening the texture with constant imitation or constant accompaniment.
I feel like I need a teacher too, to get feedback and keep out of ruts, so I’ve signed up for the February workshop of Music for People. I’m hoping it will be a fantastic weekend of improvising. I’d better make sure I have my horn playing in good shape so I’ll be able to play as long as I want.