Improvisation – in its essence – is 'on the spot' composing. (Little kids respond well to calling it 'making it up as you go along'.) The process is fascinating and of great benefit to the student! And here is why:
1 Ear training:
A good way to get musical instrument students started on the road to improvement is to have them imitate simple phrases in rhythm. If the students have 'heroes' they will listen naturally and try to imitate. When improvising, we listen to the music in our heads and then play it. The ear will tell us whether we produced what we intended.
2 Self expression:
Too often music is taught as pure reproduction of sounds written down on a page. While reading music and interpreting the masters of the past is an indispensable practice for the music student, music too often gets reduced to mere reproduction. When improvising, the pure delight of making music comes through – the student hears himself or herself and in time will come to recognize their own unique 'voice'.
3 Putting scale and pattern exercises to good use:
Learning scales, chords, arpeggios etc. are an important part of attaining proficiency on an instrument. The practice of playing scales from beginning to end and top to bottom can become boring. Improvisation offers a great way to put fun into this practice and to capture the musical potential of scales and chords.
4 Thinking ahead:
Music is sound over time – in order to make music that is in time and on the beat we need to constantly think ahead and now hear the music before we actually play it. Improvising adds an additional layer of complexity to this endeavor as what we are about to play does not even exist yet!
5 Underscores the study of music theory:
Improvisation puts music theory concepts into creative practice.
6 Getting into an open, receptive and meditative state:
Master improvisers struggle for words when trying to describe what happens inside as they are improving beautifully. 'In the zone', 'open, like a vessel', 'somewhere else' are words used to describe that unique state of mind. When the music truly 'flows' the musician has uninhibited access to his or her desire palette of skills. This state is elusive, yet can be practiced and cultivated. It is o delicious that it grabs a hold of the audience as well.
Source by Ariane Cap
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