Notes from Scratch: Introduction to Improvisation and Composition – ONLINE

UPDATE (April 26, 2023): Due to unforeseen circumstances, this workshop has been CANCELLED for Summer 2023. We are no longer accepting registrations.

WKS 428
Notes from Scratch: Introduction to Improvisation and Composition – ONLINE
June 26-August 4, 2023 / six weekly synchronous sessions to be scheduled with students
Online course

Hannah Dick and Mina Esary

Interested in exploring improvisation and writing your own music? Unsure where to start or ready for some fresh tools and perspectives? This hands-on, highly interactive course guides participants through a journey of creative experimentation with improvisation and composition while providing key concepts and tools for development. Class sessions explore topics including sound exploration, musical parameters, motivic development and variation, generating musical form and structure, and musical storytelling. Notes from Scratch emphasizes the interconnectedness of improvisation and composition, and each session includes examples and real-time application of topics to both disciplines. 

In addition to the weekly topics covered, this online workshop includes group improvisation exercises followed by reflection and discussion, weekly listening recommendations and homework assignments, individualized feedback and coaching on improvisation and composition projects, and a final project “sharing” during the last session. 

No prior experience in improvisation or composition is necessary, though the series is suitable for those with experience. Participants must be fluent in reading and writing musical notation. This course explores improvisation and composition through the lens of experimentation and basic theory rather than a specific stylistic vocabulary and is valuable for participants of all musical backgrounds. 

The workshop consists of six 90-minute sessions:

  • Sound Exploration and Musical Parameters
  • Motivic Development and Variation
  • Generating Musical Form and Structure
  • Musical Storytelling, Graphic Scores, and more!
  • Composition Coaching
  • Sharing

This course is open to middle school and high school participants; applicants should provide a letter of recommendation from a music teacher when registering.

“This class did not meet my expectations, but in a good way. I was expecting to basically just learn music theory and stick with composing classical pieces. I was pleasantly surprised when this class was very experimental with the techniques and allowed a lot of freedom for us to make sound and compose pieces. I have most definitely grown as a musician by taking this class. My improvisation skills have improved so much and I have a new perspective on what I can do with the music I create.”

“I would describe it as an improvisation and composition class that teaches you how to push the conventional boundaries of music-making and teaches you [to] think outside of the box in order to create a musical piece.”

 — 2022 Notes from Scratch participants

Read our blog: Summer@Eastman 2022: “We Can’t Wait to Make Music with You!”