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Teaching Improvisation in a University Music Ensemble: A Personal Reflection on the University of Guelph Contemporary Music Ensemble

Ellen Waterman

Published: 2010-08-25

In this personal reflection, Ellen Waterman shares her experience with the CME as a way of thinking about the use value of improvisation in a university music curriculum. In her view, improvisation ought to be an integral part of all musicians’ training because of its emphasis on both social responsibility and personal creativity. In its most provocative instances, she has seen improvisation provide transformational experiences for students that complement and enrich the training of classical and jazz players and of popular music practitioners alike.

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...partly because I know that’s the only way that we could solve a creative problem [using improvisation with children ranging in abilities] and what doesn’t work is trying to impose a template on the students who are not able to respond to that template.

– Pauline Oliveros (in working with Abilities First)