A Meaningful Approach to Teaching Improvisation in the Choral Rehearsal

The recent publication of the National Core Standards for Music (2014) has centralized improvisation as an essential element in the artistic process of creating.  Structuring improvisation activities that are engaging and meaningful in a choral context, however, can be tricky.  We can argue that activities that are “too” structured might reduce the creative impulse, but we could also argue that activities that are too free don’t necessarily result in meaningful activity that leads to music learning.  This session will provide an approach to improvisation activity in choral rehearsals that is purposeful and accounts for varied levels skill, environmental factors and resources.  The essential questions to be discussed in planning meaningful improvisation activities are: (1) Do individual activities contribute to musical understanding and growth in some way, and (2) Does each activity lead students to ultimately thinking as an improvising musician in a choral context?  Based on the basic construct and examples provided in this session, there are unlimited possibilities for activities appropriate for the choral rehearsal that will provide conductors with confidence in planning improvisation lessons that are valuable and engaging.