Improv at Teachers College

| November 30, 2010

Background

Improvisational music education sounds like an oxymoron to me. I never thought much about the inspiration to play improvisation, but I did assume that it was something that was simply created and not taught. That’s why I was so intrigued to find out that Teachers College puts on an improvisational music camp every summer.

What became even more interesting to discover is that this music camp started as a way to teach teaching. Improvisational music was used to help teachers improvise in the classroom, leading to the creation of generative, student-centered lessons.

Teaching with the Video

What do you think of the line: “kids live in a culture where teachers tell us what we didn’t do well”? Is this true to your experience of schooling, and if so, what can be done? How can schools create spaces like those represented in this video: spaces of play, places of experimentation, and spaces where students can grow and gain confidence? How can teacher education–as well–embody and instill this improvisational spirit in future teachers?

Excerpt from Video

“The on-going belief is that there’s nothing really organized, sequential, substantial about improvisation, it’s just something that comes out of thin air. Then how do you teach inspiration that comes out of thin air? You don’t. I believe that improvisation is based upon the teachers’ ability to organize steps from the very first day…and that’s all the beginning of making choices of learning how to improvise.”