Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Improvisation Basics 4: Psyching Out Improv Demons

I participated in mid-1990s in Jazz Studio class taught by Roger Freundlich in Espoo, Finland. Roger later published an article in Down Beat Magazine (1998) about his teaching methods. Here is a summary of it:

Look the demons of jazz improvisation straight in the eyes and say, "I'm going to improvise - deal with it!"

That's the attitude I try to instill in adult jazz improvisation students at Jazz Studio, an adult-education evening class held under the auspices of the City of Espoo Adult Education Centre outside Helsinki, Finland. The participants, generally adults between 30 and 60, are seriously interested in unlocking the secrets of jazz improvisation. In the course, we investigate total musical discipline and total musical chaos to find the magic middle ground where the best music is created.

To supplement the systematic study of intervals, chords and scales, a series of simple group exercises can help adult amateur musicians overcome psychological inhibitions in their desire to become more comfortable as improvising jazz soloists. Developed to educate people in a culture where modesty is a virtue and the ability to improvise is not generally an inborn trait, the following classroom techniques can also be used by band directors to sharpen soloing skills in their big bands.

Some of the methods Roger is using:
  • Talk/Play/Talk/Play
  • Create/Imitate
  • I Am the Greatest
  • Ugly/Beautiful
  • Verbose/Taciturn
  • Guest Drummer

The SOTW Article:
Psyching Out Improv Demons by Roger Freundlich


Neal - Sax Station said...

haha, good one Harri. I like that illustration

RennyBA's Terella said...

Never have I learned so much about jazz since I start reading your blog - thanks for sharing!