Teaching improvisation. Not teaching improvisation

What does an improvisation teacher do?

Fred Frith
Musicians have always improvised. You recognize musically gifted children by the fact that they make things up. What follows, in the West, is that they learn to read music and do as they’re told. This clearly illustrates the problems that are likely to surface if you are «taught» how to improvise. How can the practice of improvisation ever be compatible with «doing as you’re told»? Teaching, especially in an institution, is usually considered to be dependent on codification, and comparability. We need rules that can be identified, syllabi, tools for assessment so that declared goals can be reached and outcomes graded. But improvisation is not a genre with rules; it comes from deep inside you. So what does an improvisation «teacher» do? As a contribution for a conference on improvised music of the Research Department of the Basel University of Music in 2009 Fred Frith discusses this question and others.

by moxi