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Musicians were born for times like these!

Improvisation is the act of accessing creativity in the moment and under pressure, to resolve or direct the resolution of a situation to meet objectives. It is the ability to converge composition, creativity and execution to achieve success.

And the benefits of learning improvisation have been proven in both young people and adults to improve and promote communication, decision making, working as a team, social interaction, confidence, active listening, physical awareness and helping with anxiety.

Yes! Musicians have a unique set of tools, honed over many years, which will help lead and guide them through this new paradigm introduced by the latest novel coronavirus.

Musical improvisation (also known as musical extemporization) is the creative activity of immediate ("in the moment") musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians.

What better style than improv is there to relate to the ever-changing needs of our fellow musicians and students since the onset of Covid-19? When we put student musicians into groups for the purpose of making music, we want their discussions to be musical as well as verbal. Improvisation can provide them with a great opportunity to communicate and respond to each other through music, in a way that has more immediacy than performing the music of others or composing. Responding immediately! Isn’t that what this new paradigm is all about? Solving problems, responding quickly to new situations as they arise. Communicating clearly and thinking outside the box to create new ways to adapt old ideas into new surroundings.

In acting, five elements of improvisation, in proper order (with some minor disagreements 😊) are: Setting, Character, Problem, Rising Action, and Solution. It’s exactly what music teachers have to take into consideration now. We have a new setting in which to deliver music education. There are new characters (our old students, who’ve been changed by our new paradigm), there are what seems like a mountain of problems, fear and anxiety are causing all sorts of unexpected behaviors/rising action but thank goodness there is a solution being formed by the most creative of all problem solvers – Music Teachers!

You are equipped and ready! Get out there and improv!

1. Live in the moment.

2. Employ active listening.

3. Seek and nurture connection and interconnection.

4. Take the risk of saying yes to yourself and your ideas.

5. Take the risk of saying yes to others and their ideas.

6. Give trust before it is earned.

7. Strive to make your fellow teachers and students look and sound good.

8. Value all contributions, as you never know where the next great idea will come from.

9. Embrace the culture of yes and… add to the ideas generated.

Creativity blossoms at the crossroads of collaboration. Try new things and teach your best music ever!


Jennene Estes Owner and Instructor The Catoctin School of Music


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