Improvisation Workshop Recap

January 2016 Improvisation Workshop Recap

(Read this article by Kathleen Lamb, SEMSA past-president and workshop coordinator, and Drew Robertson, workshop clinician, as published in the SEMSA March 2016 Newsletter)

In January SEMSA students had the opportunity to work on improvisation in a fun weekend workshop with guest clinician Drew Robertson from Rochester, NY. It was great to see all the students thinking outside the box and allowing themselves to try new things on their instruments. Students were given basic guidelines for each improvisation game. It was exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm of the students as they tried something new and stepped outside their comfort zone.

          - Kathleen Lamb, Improvisation Workshop Coordinator


It was a 
pleasure to lead the improvisation workshop in Rochester, MN with the teachers of SEMSA. Not only was the entire event impeccably organized, but the church location was ideal for both classes and the final concert. I cannot be more grateful to SEMSA, the teachers and parents for their planning, hospitality, and encouragement throughout the event.

The class sizes were perfect for facilitating good improvisation and variety, while being small enough to allow each student to have frequent opportunities to create. By the end of the first class, each of the groups was motivated and enthusiastic to try improvisation again. The beginner groups progressed nicely from a basic rhythm machine to more advanced games involving melody fragments and ostinati. The intermediate groups had great success with an orchestration game and the challenging passacaglia, while advanced groups ventured into complex time signatures and modulation. I was incredibly impressed by rapid progress of the advanced group, and encouraged the students to form autonomous chamber ensembles for the final jam session.

On the final concert, each of the groups performed an improvisation game of their choice. The last three performances of the evening, two string quartets and the cadenza game, were incredibly impressive and demonstrated just how much each student had come into their own. I am astounded by the enthusiasm and ability of the students of SEMSA to rapidly acquire the skill of improvisation and perform with fluency and musicality in the span of a few short classes. The workshop was an unforgettable opportunity, and it was a genuine pleasure to work with all of the wonderful parents, teachers, and students!

Thank you for inviting me to lead the improvisation workshop!

          - Drew Robertson, Improvisation Workshop Clinician


Funding for this program has been provided by the Southeastern Minnesota Suzuki Association, the Southeaster Minnesota Arts Council, Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust, and the Rochester Commercial Banks Association.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund. 

This project is made possible in part through funding from the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust.

This event supported by the Rochester
Commercial Banks Association - Associated, Eastwood, Merchants, Minnwest, Premier, Sterling State, U. S. and Wells Fargo Banks.