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Improvisation with young beginners - r u really accompanying? (Read 2047 times)

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Improvisation with young beginners - r u really accompanying?
« on: December 02, 2014, 09:15:04 PM »
I often play accompaniments with young learners (4 yrs old and up), and give them a few select notes (CDE for example), discuss how a melody works - long/short notes, loud/soft etc - start playing and have them join in. It usually doesn't work. Today I finally had a 4 year old gifted learner do it beautifully, felt the pulse, played in time, listened against my part, and so on.

What I discovered recently, is that in the case of students who don't seem to get it, what they often *seem* to be doing is just playing something as though they are in their own space, their own time, and as though they are not listening to my part at all. And thats exactly right. What I discovered is that if I indeed try to accompany them, following them, going out to meet them in their space, making up something that seems to follow their seemingly disjointed mess, what I discovered is that they are in fact feeling everything that *I think* they should be doing. Just that they are doing it without external references to a single pulse, an even rhythm, and so on. But it is often never the less internally coherent. The key here is that if they are absorbed in what they are doing, it is actually I who is not following them, not the other way around.

So this was an interesting revelation, because suddenly I was able to celebrate these remarkable improvisations where they are totally engaged with their task, and when I go out to meet them making up a suitable accompaniment, they usually become aware of how the parts are playing off of one another.

One is not right and the other wrong, they are not yet differentiating a multitude of coordinated skills, it is more of a kind of pure tactile creativity at the keyboard.