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The LSMD Centre for Teaching: Improvisation in the Classroom

3 min

Looking to put the spring back into your music or drama classroom? The Leinster School of Music & Drama is here to help foster creativity and self-confidence with some quick tips and information on the benefits of improvisation in the classroom. Improvisation develops a learner’s performance, as well as their aural and analytical skills.

We often focus on the structure of the grade examination and spend less time exploring the freedom and creativity of improvisation. Self-confidence is a big part of performing and whether that’s in front of family, friends or on the performance stage, improvisation can help develop that confidence. By incorporating some fun and practical improvisation exercises into your lesson, you can create a world of possibilities for your student.

Music Teachers

Using scales and arpeggios are a great way to get started. This can be something simple, such as a teacher – student duet, with your student playing the scale while you play harmonised sustained notes using the root, third and fifth of the scale. Give your student the freedom to explore different notes within the scale and slowly build with chord inversions, rhythmic changes or sudden changes in direction.

Call and Response exercises based on 2 bar melodies develop a learners aural, rhythmic and compositional skills. Why not play a short 2 bar melody based on your chosen key signature and ask your student to answer with a short two bar phrase in the same key. Mix it up and change the key signature to the relative major and minors of the chosen key. We love this one and students get a great sense of enjoyment creating something new.

Speech & Drama Teachers

Using your choice poems can be a helpful practice for students to create different scenarios and improvise around the theme and meaning of the poem. Our drama examiner Maeve O’Donoghue suggests the idea to ‘workshop each of the chosen poems to give students time to understand the meaning in their poem’. For example, why not plan a mime around the meaning or a certain line/word from the poem and follow this up with words. Use non-verbal movement (to music) or choose a situation (e.g. camping out) and work as part of a group to bring to life the camping experience. This can be a fun and engaging exercise for students while building confidence and teamwork along the way.

 

One thing we love about The Leinster School of Music & Drama Grade Exams is the choice offered to candidates of Grade 6 + standard which includes improvisation as part of their music and drama exams.

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