top of page

Classical Improvisation

“The chief reason to learn improvisation is simply that our musical personalities are incomplete and underdeveloped if we are unable to express ourselves in a spontaneous fashion.  The ability to improvise is central to our musicianship; without it, musicians are simply not ‘complete’.” -Gerre Hancock

Classical Improvisation, at its core, is playing music without written notation. Written music can be a trap that denies musicians the chance to create their own voice and experiment with musical possibilities. True risk taking, learning, and musical development occurs when the possibility of making mistakes is not only accepted, but embraced. Internalize and explore classical music training and transform it into pure creation and understanding.

Nicole taught an introduction to classical improvisation course at Western Michigan University and leads introductory workshops for musicans of all ages.

Classical Improvisation: About

Student Feedback

Western Michigan University Aural Skills IV: Introduction to Classical Improvisation Spring 2019 Student Comments

Nicole Minney spent the Spring 2019 teaching this course for Dr. Lin (Foulk) Baird while she was on maternity leave. These are comments from students enrolled in the course.

Anonymous Student

"I love the atmosphere. It was safe and fun. You could be yourself. I have become more comfortable in exploring my voice. Overall I've learned that it's okay to make mistakes. This class was so much fun ... Through playing improvisation games, I grew as a musician."

Anonymous Student

"I've learned that I am more musical than I thought I was. With [the] ... tools gained in this class, I was able to open/gain access to another realm of my musicality [and now] I will be able to use improvisation in music therapy!"

Anonymous Student

"I learned that there is so much more to my instrument and that the beauty of music is simply enjoying what you're playing. I like creating new melodies. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to play and do things with my instrument I had never done before."

John E.

"As a composer, [improvisation] gave me new ideas on what a performance should look like. I learned to trust myself and be comfortable performing around my peers. I love breaking rules. [This] was my favorite class of this semester."

Anonymous Student

"I learned I have a lot more of my own musical ideas than I thought. I think the people make the class. Everyone was very willing to try new things and it made it fun because we could be silly around each other."

Anonymous Student

I really enjoy improvising [with] others and 'living in the moment' when I play. That's a skill this class has helped me become more comfortable with. [Now] I can use [improvisation] in my warm ups, my chamber ensembles, and in my future classrooms."

Classical Improvisation: List
bottom of page