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Summer Game Symphony Workshop at SPU

POSTED ON June 13, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Game Symphony Workshop

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.
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Registration Open for the Game Symphony Workshop

POSTED ON May 10, 2017   |   Post A Comment

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

 

Kaley leading the group last summer

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Dissolve the Fear of Improvisation (Video)

POSTED ON March 27, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Fear and anxiety are the biggest roadblocks to creative music making. The good news is the right strategies can ease the most profound phobias.

“Portrait of Dizzy Gillespie” by William Gottlieb. Courtesy of The Library of Congress

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New Podcast Interview

POSTED ON March 03, 2017   |   Post A Comment
I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friend Karl Benitez and his co-host Trevor Pogue for an interview on their new podcast, Anxiety Club. These guys are really entertaining, and we discussed a host of topics:

  • The creative process
  • Why most classical musicians don’t improvise (although they used to)
  • My summer job painting fire hydrants
  • Who to take criticism from (spoiler alert: not many people)
  • Fear and leaning into discomfort
  • Earning a living as an artist
  • When to take a non-paying gig
  • Why I embrace a generous business model

(Warning, there are a few swears. And I was a bit over-caffeinated, so I was talking much faster than usual.)

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes.

They even turned me into a couple infographics (achievement unlocked):
The sentence about quantity and quality is almost a direct quote from Adam Grant’s book Originals, so I can’t take credit.

Enjoy!

Listen on SoundCloud or iTunes.

– ST

Download a free copy of my new book, Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Join the Facebook group.

Creativity Triggers Facebook Group

POSTED ON February 19, 2017   |   Post A Comment

I created a Creativity Triggers for Musicians Facebook group to connect readers and creative musicians all over the world.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativitytriggers/

Of course, our most important connections are playing music together in real life. The value of a digital community is that we can:

– Connect with musicians across the globe
– Share music
– Ask and answer questions
– Find collaborators
– Share insight and resources

To create and perform great music, we need to connect with other people. Our creative practices are often stuffed into a practice room, isolating us from our peers. If we can break out of that sense of isolation, we can create more and connect with wider audiences.

– Kaley Lane Eaton, composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist

Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. See you in the Facebook group.

– ST

 

Creativity Triggers for Musicians is Here!

POSTED ON February 03, 2017   |   Post A Comment

Download a free digital copy of my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians.

The Big Idea

Creativity isn’t a mysterious or magical gift. It’s a practice.

The Promise

Creativity Triggers for Musicians will help you express your unused creativity, break through barriers, and create an abundance of original music.

The Content

– Eight creative practices that underpin idea generation in any creative discipline.

– Creativity Triggers: frameworks for improvisation that draw from creative practices. These are similar to improv theater games and creative writing prompts.

  1. Eight Creative Practices
  2. Creative Limitations
  3. Inner Hearing
  4. Drones
  5. Variations on a Theme
  6. Text Setting

Download the book + free bonuses.

Enjoy!
– ST

Creative Limitation Menus

POSTED ON January 22, 2017   |   Post A Comment

This is a preview of new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Reserve a free digital copy.

Practicing can be a game, the goal is a deeper knowing of musical sound. One strategy is to draw the greatest variety of music from the smallest amount of material . . . [These] games are the kind master and beginner can play with skill.

– W. A. Mathieu, The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music

This chapter introduces Creativity Triggers, frameworks for improvisation that draw from the eight creative practices in Chapter One. Creativity Triggers are similar to creative writing prompts and improv theater games—these exercises help us narrow our focus and generate new ideas through experimentation and play.

Menus

When my wife and I were planning our wedding, our minister could sense we didn’t have a clear vision for our ceremony. She offered us her “Chinese Takeout Menu of Wedding Ceremonies,” which listed options for openings, readings, vows, and closings. This menu was a huge relief and helped us put together a personal and meaningful ceremony.

The Creative Limitation Menus list limitations for structuring improvised pieces. The challenge is to create interesting music within a narrow set of musical restrictions. Unlike a restaurant menu, you are free to change menu items and add your own.


Creativity Trigger: Pick Two

In Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, Stephen Nachmanovitch suggests, “two rules are more than enough. If we have a rule concerning harmony and another concerning rhythms, if we have a rule concerning mood and another concerning the use of silence, we don’t need any more. The unconscious has infinite repertoires of structure already; all it needs is a little external structure on which to crystallize.”

  • Choose two limitations from different categories.
  • Staying within these limitations, play a short improvisation (30-60 seconds) that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
  • As W. A. Mathieu suggests, treat the limitations as a musical game.

The magic comes from experimenting with the musical elements that aren’t restricted. For instance, if your two limitations are “choose two pitches” and “slow pulse,” you can drastically alter the dynamics, rhythmic values, articulation, and tone color.

More Creativity Triggers

Three Movement Piece
Choose three sets of limitations to structure a three movement improvisation.

Themed Improvisation
Think of a person, place, emotion, object, or story to serve as the theme for an improvised piece. Choose limitations that will effectively express your theme.

Chance Piece
Choose limitations randomly.

Groove
Improvise with a drum groove from the Drumgenius mobile app. The app features 400 jazz, rock, and Latin American drum loops.

Free Play
When creative writers “free write,” they write continuously without editing, judging, or censoring. Similarly, we can “free play” music. Set a timer for 5, 10, or 20 minutes and play continuously. Record your free play because you may find material to develop in future improvisations or compositions

Extreme Interpretation
Experiment with mood, rhythm, and/or tone color limitations to play extreme interpretations of a notated piece.

Much more in Chapter Two of Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Reserve a free digital copy.

– ST

 

10 Improvisation Games for Ensembles

POSTED ON October 01, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Theater games help actors create new material and build trust. We can experience the same benefits from creative musical games.

Ease Fears

Improvisation is the source of paralyzing fear and for many musicians, and community-building games help ease fears about the creative process. The novelty, unpredictability, and attainable challenges help drive our attention into the present moment.

Engage Everyone

Group activities engage everyone in the ensemble. The jazz education model of teaching improvisation puts musicians on the spot one at a timemusicians who aren’t playing tend to check out mentally, and many inexperienced soloists get freaked out when put on the spot.

Introduce Creative Practices

Games allow us to experience profound creative practices: experimentation, creative risks, and playing within self-imposed limitations. Although some of the icebreaker games are silly, the practices help us improvise and compose in other areas.

Creative games and activities are the foundation of the Game Symphony Workshop.

When refer to various activities of life as “games,” we do not mean to imply that these activities are frivolous or make no difference. . .Half the fun of playing games like baseball—or the kind that come in a box—is that they challenge us to adapt and hone our skills. . .Naming your activities as a game breaks their hold on you and puts you in charge. Just look carefully at the cover of the box, and if the rules do not light up your life, put it away, take out another one you like better, and play the new game wholeheartedly. Remember, it’s all invented.

Roz Zander, The Art of Possibility

Here are ten of my favorite games for musicians who may be new to improvisation:

hs-soundpainting-st
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The Card Game

POSTED ON August 18, 2016   |   One Comment

The ‘card came’ removed my usual block of being terrified to make s*** up (is it good?) and I felt really free. It was just inside my comfort zone and I was pleased with my own contribution.

– Kendal Seager, violin
Game Symphony Workshop participant

Courtesy of Flickr/William Creswell
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Creative Chamber Music

POSTED ON July 21, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Earlier this month a group of classically-trained adult musicians came together to launch the Game Symphony Workshop. The program is designed to unlock and unblock creativity, ease fears, build community, and generate new music.


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