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Improvisation in High School Music

A Profile of Teacher Doug Friesen

High school music classes are usually centred on choir, band or orchestra, where students learn music literacy, and various repertoires under the baton of a conductor. Improvisation offers an exciting way to enhance these activities, by challenging both students and teachers to participate in creative and spontaneous music making. The rewards can be many: increased self-confidence, group cohesion, creative expression, and a new, more exploratory relationship with your voice or instrument. However, there are many challenges in introducing improvisation into the high school music classroom, especially when teachers seldom have experience improvising themselves. What happens when a band teacher decides to take that leap into the unknown?

This site profiles an improvisational music program run by teacher Doug Friesen at the Rosedale Heights School of the Arts in Toronto. On the video, you’ll find an interview between Doug and David Lane. You can also read more about Doug and visit his website, where you’ll find more resources for teaching improvisation in high school music.


Profile of Doug Friesen

Improvisation is, simply put, being and living this very moment. No one can hide in music, and improvising in music is to be truly in this very moment and being completely yourself, with all your qualities and faults. It is probably the most honest state for a human being to be in.

– John McLaughlin in an interview with Daniel Fischlin.