As anyone who reads this blog regularly will know, one of the things that is of great interest to me is improvisation. I am interested in this subject practically and theoretically but I have a particular desire to understand more about the ways in which it is taught, learned and assessed in educational contexts. Over the last week I have been involved in a project in primary schools in which we have been introducing children between the ages of 8 and 11 years old to improvisation. It has been incredible fun and very rewarding so I would like to share some information about the sessions in this week’s post.
The workshops were part of a wonderful project, entitled ‘Music, Sound and Electronics’ which was developed and run by Lauren Sarah Hayes for West Lothian Council and supported by Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative. This project consists of Lauren and guest musicians/composers/improvisers delivering sessions (each 1 hour long) in which the young people learn about music and sound whilst exploring electronics, designing and developing their own instruments and modifying/extending ‘traditional’ instruments , for example. The project runs over 10 weeks and, each week, classes will work on a different topic and explore music and sound in new and interesting ways. 16 classes across West Lothian participated in the project which meant that, over the course of a week, approximately 500 students are involved. I was asked by Lauren to write and deliver a workshop on improvisation (using electronic, home made and ‘traditional’ instruments) that would introduce the young people to improvisation. In some ways, I expected this to be challenging as I believed that it might be difficult to encourage some children to get involved with the exercises – as it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed the sessions – including me!