Becoming an Improv Star

Composing Improv

I used to be afraid of improvisation. And what was worse, people thought that because I could play the piano, I could play anything. I got asked to play jazz, pop, funk, alternative, industrial and more on a regular basis. If I had the music in front of me, great- I’m a sight-reading machine. I have a decent ear too, so I could listen to something and figure it out right away. But improvise something...no!!! I’m classical trained. And the “old style” of conservatory-based learning placed little importance on learning musicianship skills, and included absolutely zero improvisation. Therefore, I was defenceless.

It wasn’t until fairly recently, while learning a new approach to pedagogy through the Northern Lights Canadian National Conservatory of Music did I realize you don’t have to be a professional jazz musician to have these improv skills. Their holistic program incorporates improv from the very earliest piano exam, so students are continuously honing their skills. 

As my student base for this exciting program increased, so did my search for pieces that contained an improv component. I managed to include a piece in both Voyageur Late Elementary and Voyageur Elementary with improv, but I needed more. So I began to write Wee Songs.

Wee Songs is a series of melodic improv pieces for different levels of piano, from pre-staff reading to late intermediate. The Pre-Reader is in sheet music form, while Volumes 1-3 are PDF downloads. I composed these songs around a single theme: Wee folk and their natural surroundings. They contain descriptive titles and program notes to spark vivid imagery, and opportunities to improvise with tons of hints on how to get started.

Now, I love using these pieces as quick studies or in a group lesson setting. They are also perfect for an improv component during exam preparation. Take a look and you may just embrace the art of improvisation, like I did. Become an improv star today- it’s easy and fun!!! ⭐️🎹

 


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  • Irene Enns on

    I am using the prereader wee songs for a beginner adult student,
    level 1 for a grade 2 age 11
    and level 2 for a 16 year old who just loves to sing and play by chording.
    They all love it! So easy to use!


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