Improvising with Friends

Since one of the purposes of this blog is to inspire musicians and music teachers to get around the idea that one must be innately gifted to play by ear, I thought it would be fun to share three very different improvisational encounters with the hope that it will inspire you to put away the written music now and then and do your own thing. Jamming with a fellow musician must be like Mr. Spock’s Vulcan mind meld. In some ways, you learn more about someone by improvising together then you would by sharing a long, soul-searching dinner conversation. How they lead and follow, perceive time, utilize their imagination, hold onto or abandon ego for the sake of music… all reveal what they think and feel, at least, at in that particular moment. II III II III II III II III II Leila Viss My business partner, Leila Viss helped me … Read more…

Bach Festival for Strings

It was an honor to teach with distinguished educators last weekend at the Bach Festival organized by Suzuki Music Columbus.  All afternoon, students circulated through four classes: Baroque dance, repertoire, history and harmony (mine) and then performed a culminating all Bach concert including the Brandenburg #3 (one of my favorites). Ask Questions 1. I began by asking students to name Bach’s many jobs: composer, organist, violinist, teacher…  We discussed how Bach was a real person — who like anyone, ate cheese, got headaches, had good days and bad days, etc. — and not some semi-God high up on a mountain throwing down immortal music on bronze plaques. The point being that Bach was a creative musician albeit a very good one, but that if he could make his own music, then so can we. 2. Next, I asked them to imagine what if one of them had been Bach’s student … Read more…

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