Improv at The Music Studio

The Music Studio

Thursday night we had some guest musicians performing an evening of free improvisation at The Music Studio. Ron Stabinsky, Jack Wright, and Bob Marsh combined sax, amplified classical guitar, voice, piano, trumpet and kept the lucky audience engaged from the first note. (Notice the basket of light bulbs in the pre-recital set-up photo above…they were later to be used inside the piano!)

Interestingly the performance coincided with my second read-through of Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book, Free Play, and the writings on his website. Here he talks about teaching:

Some people think that improvisation equals jazz. Jazz is one of the manifold forms of improvised music, but what I do and what many other improvising musicians do is not jazz. When I teach I am not promoting a particular style. When I pick up a violin and perform, I have certain forms that I gravitate to and a set of styles which has become mine over the years. But as a teacher, I feel that my job is not to teach students to play the kind of music that I play, but to rather create the context so that they can create their music. The payoff is seeing the eyes of the students as they stand up on stage with nothing between them and the audience – seeing them as they experience the incredible empowerment of becoming independent creators. A fantastic alchemy happens, a thrilling sense of doing something that perhaps even a week or a day before they couldn’t have dreamt that they could possibly have done, and to discover that it is possible. The word “empowerment” has become a bit overused in our day, but I can’t think of a better word to describe what happens when you see the gleaming eyes of students who are giving their first improvisational performances.

2 thoughts on “Improv at The Music Studio

  1. Hi Cathy,


    It has never made sense to me that many (most?) teachers impose their own way of playing on their students. Three of my teachers could only teach their own technique. That applied to repertoire, too. I finally figured out that one teacher wouldn’t allow me to play Beethoven cello sonatas because she didn’t know them!

    It’s so refreshing to hear about someone who “gets” it.


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