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How To Bring Creativity To Your Private Music Lessons

POSTED ON April 17, 2017   |   Post A Comment

New article for private teachers on the Teach Well blog:

Even if you have little experience with improvisation and composition yourself, you can make a big impact on your students by helping them get off the page and create their own music during your private lessons.

The process nurtures creative, independent, and fearless musicians. As teachers, it helps us break out of our standard routines.

I’d like to share a few prompts from my new book Creativity Triggers for Musicians, which you can download for free here.

Read more on Medium.

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 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

Unused Creativity Doesn’t Disappear

POSTED ON December 09, 2016   |   Post A Comment

Gearing up to release my new eBook, Creativity Triggers for Musicians. Below is part of the introduction. Reserve your free copy.

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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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Transcribe the Music in Your Head

POSTED ON September 02, 2016   |   2 Comments

Your next creative breakthrough may be all in your head.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Ivan (more…)

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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Footage from the Game Symphony Workshop

POSTED ON July 07, 2016   |   Post A Comment

I had an exhilarating and inspiring weekend with thirteen musicians for the maiden voyage of the Game Symphony Workshop!

The event brought together a diverse group of musicians, including professional orchestral players, band directors, university students, and amateur musicians. The two day workshop at Seattle Pacific University culminated with the premiere of sixteen original pieces. The performance featured an improvised film score, abstract soundscapes, meditative minimalism, musical settings for poetry, solo improvisations, and Soundpainting, a sign language for live composition.

Kaley leads a rhythmic game on day one

Kaley leads a rhythm game on day one

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Presenting the Game Symphony Workshop

POSTED ON May 19, 2016   |   Post A Comment
I’m thrilled to announce the launch of the Game Symphony Workshop. This creative music experience helps formally trained musicians get off the page through Soundpainting, musical adaptations of theater games, and creative chamber music.
Steve and Kaley 2

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