Thematic improvisation is the process of embellishing, developing, changing, and/or deconstructing a musical theme. These themes can come from the composition itself or improvised on the spot.
This approach to improvisation is a hallmark of some of the greatest jazz soloists, and practicing the process will help you generate and endless flow of ideas on any tune, in any style.
I’m bringing pianist/composer Annie Booth back out from Denver, this time with her entire trio. We’re going to record our mountain-themed “Snow Line Project.” We had a fantastic run of gigs in Denver, and I’m thrilled to have whole band in Seattle! Gigs next weekend:
I recently put together a presentation about the inner experience of a musical practice that’s both effective and fulfilling. This is essentially what I wish someone had sat down and outlined for me 20 years ago. I dive into the topics of mastery, drive, and flow, and incorporate some entertaining images and videos (I’ve been calling this my poor man’s TED talk).
Last week, I presented at a high school jazz camp at Central Washington University. It was inspiring to hear students talk about moments that they tapped into flow— practicing, conversations, working construction, repairing instruments. The audio/video isn’t the best quality, but you should be able to see and hear everything. (I plan on producing a higher-quality version of the talk later on.) Enjoy.
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Are you on the master’s journey, or are you dabbling, obsessing, or hacking your way through your music?
In his book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, George Leonard paints an inspiring picture of the masters journey. His insight helps us stay on the path in the face of the internal and external forces that can knock us off. Leonard’s discipline is the martial art Aikido, but his lessons in mastery are equally relevant to music (and any other domain).
Mastery is a path, a journey—not a destination. A commitment to the master’s journey is dedication to lifelong learning and growth.
Our progress toward mastery isn’t linear. We experience bursts of growth on our path, but the majority of our time is spent on a plateau, where we continue to practice even when we don’t see day-to-day results.
Creativity Triggers for Musicians went live in the Kindle store last week and hit #1 in a three music categories!
You can download the pdf for free here, and it’s free to share. Thanks for reading and spreading the word!
Unlocking musical creativity through group improvisation.
August 12-13, 2017 • 10:00am – 5:00pm • Seattle Pacific University
“My ears blossomed, my head exploded, and my creativity soared.”
Announcing the Game Symphony Workshop at SPU, an intensive 2-day workshop culminating in a concert of original works.
Designed for classically-trained musicians age 18 and up, Game Symphony Workshop is a collaborative music experience that generates the skills, confidence, and community to unlock musical creativity.
Learn how to beat performance anxiety and perform your very best on stage.
This is the tagline for Dr. Noa Kageyama’s Beyond Practicing course. The class delivers on this promise and is unequivocally the most powerful music performance class I have taken. (FYI, this article is not a paid endorsement or advertisement.)
Our educational system often operates with the limiting belief that growth and achievement are testable and measurable. When this mindset takes hold of music education, we set a high bar for conformity and proficiency, but lose sight of artistry, expression, and courage.
Join us for a two-day improvisation workshop on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.
Last year, our inaugural adult workshop brought together a group of professional musicians, serious amateur players, and educators. Through prompts, games, and experimentation, we crafted a compelling 70 minute set of original music. I’m thrilled to lead the workshop with composer, vocalist, and Seattle Symphony Teaching Artist, Kaley Lane Eaton.
Registration is now open, and we only have room for 20 participants.
GSW is a mind-blowing improvisation experience. I left that weekend having made new friends and feeling so inspired! As a music educator, I was able to take GSW activities into my high school and college classrooms and see big results! I was practically knocking down Steve’s door to find out when the workshop was happening again. This workshop is so beneficial for classical musicians who are fearful of sounding bad and making mistakes during improvisation. My ears blossomed, my head exploded, and my creativity soared.
– Sarah Bost, M.A. Music Ed.
Flute and saxophone