Release Your Inner Music

Thank you for visiting the Creative Music Blog!

  • Are you interested in learning to play jazz but feel overwhelmed?
  • Are you a classically trained musician who wants to create your own music?
  • Are you an educator who wants to teach improvisation in the classroom?

If so, you have come to right place. If you are willing to expand your practice to embrace experimentation, exploration, play, risk, and creative collaborations, an endless stream of improvisations and compositions is waiting for you and your students.

I launched this blog for two reasons:

  • To help empower musicians to be independent and creative artists for life
  • To explode the status quo of “theory-first” jazz education

Courtesy of Flikr/Kool Cats Photography

How does one learn improvisation? The only answer is to ask another question: What is stopping us? Spontaneous creation comes from our deepest being and is immaculately and originally ourselves. What we have to express is already with us, is us, so the work of creativity is not a matter of making the material come, but of unblocking the obstacles to its natural flow.

Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

Alternatives to “Theory-First” Jazz Improvisation

The status quo of jazz education buries newcomers in an overwhelming jumble of modes, chord symbols, licks, and patterns. Although studying harmony is essential later on, nothing discourages new improvisers faster than confusing theoretical information.

In my experiences working with thousands of young musicians, rhythm, call and response, thematic development, and free improvisation have proven to be much more accessible entry points.

Engaging and Effective Material

Through years of experimentation as an artist, clinician, and private instructor, I’ve developed process-based material that has been enormously successful for:

  • Stacking jazz ensembles with confident and skilled soloists
  • Helping classically trained musicians improvise and compose their own music
  • Launching middle and high school jazz combo programs
  • Engaging concert bands and orchestras
  • Structuring university jazz improvisation courses
  • Building a foundation for nationally recognized jazz soloists

I look forward to sharing my materials and experiences through the Creative Music Blog. I post at least twice a week, usually on one of nine topics:

  • Ear Training
  • Rhythm
  • Jazz Improvisation
  • Free Improvisation
  • Composition
  • Harmony
  • Busting Barriers
  • Active Listening
  • Creative Music in the Classroom

I invite you to join the discussion in the comments.

What barriers or roadblocks have you faced in your studies of creative music?

– ST

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1 Robin Moore. “The Decline of Improvisation in Western Art Music: An Interpretation of Change.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 23, no. 1 (1992): 61-84.