Improvisation: Pathways to Musical Freedom & Self-Realization

Whether we know it or not, we're constantly in states of improvisation -- whether in conversation, decision-making, or even in the mundane actions we take every day. There's no way we could ever plan out everything we say or do in a day, much less while we're actually saying or doing it. And while it may not be comfortable to admit all the time, chances are that most of our days are truly spent wingin’ it.

In music, improvisation takes on a whole new meaning. Entrancing, satisfying, joyous, meditative, cathartic -- these are just a few adjectives that barely describe the emotional landscape of musical improvisation. In this course I'll be exploring the conceptual frameworks, mechanical devices, and practice routines that have propelled me through my own journey to explore the deep and mysterious parts of the mind that are activated through improvisation.

What makes improvisation special? Simply put, it is a state of mind during which we imagine and execute something from nothing. It is an abstract puzzle that is both created and solved at the same time. And at its height it is an intensely personal, authentic, and cathartic process of self-realization. What I've found after years of playing music is that nothing can quite replicate the feeling of imagining musical ideas and in real time being able to play them, and play them well. It's been remarked by music critics for hundreds of years that some of the most famous and greatest compositions often have an air of unpredictability to them -- a sense that they could have been made up on the spot. A sense that they were improvised.

What many people may not know is that even seasoned musicians struggle to improvise well, and that it is a completely different skill set than simply reading music or knowing instrumental technique. This skill set has to do with accessing, maintaining, and refining the improvisational state of mind, and in this sense there is much crossover with mindfulness and meditation techniques. I can help de-mystify the ways to access these skills, in simple terms that even young or beginner students can understand. You DON'T need to be an expert or even an advanced musician to get started -- all you need is an open mind and a will to practice a bit every day.

While improvisation is really a lifelong process, it shouldn’t be overwhelming or confusing or mysterious — on the contrary; successful improvisation feels like the most natural thing in the world. This course will illuminate those natural approaches in ways that are accessible, memorable, and actionable. Students will be able to start improvising and building their mental chops from day one.

These sessions will be largely taught on the keyboard and guitar and geared towards those instruments, or instruments that can play both melody and harmony (although the most important concepts will apply to any instrument). The instrument I teach on will depend on what most students in a given session are playing. Students wishing to sign up should have a basic understanding of music theory (at the least some knowledge of chords). Focus will be on ideas and expression, so no sheet music required! It's all in the head and the heart... your inner musical world is waiting to be explored.

Teacher's Bio: I am a composer, performer, and educator currently based in Portland, OR. I have a B.A. in Media Production from Emerson College where I studied film scoring and scored over 20 short films. I have written over 100 hours of original music and spent countless more improvising and deepening my understanding of harmony and musical motion, including jazz theory and contemporary arranging. I teach private lessons (piano, guitar, bass, ukulele) and continue to score media, including short films, promotional spots, and television pilots. My portfolio can be seen here: www.owenkelley.com/music
Style of Offering: Interactive Seminar, via Zoom
Max Attendance: 10
Min Number of Attendees: 1
Date and Time : Wednesday & Friday 4:00pm PST / Sunday 3:00pm PST
Signup Deadline: 24 Hours in Advance