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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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Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace