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!)
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.