Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians



by Jeffrey Agrell

500+ Non-jazz Games for Performers, Educators, and Everyone Else

Jeffrey Agrell'sImprovisation Games for Classical Musician'sis one of the most inspiring and innovative books I have come across since reading John Steven's revolutionary Search and Reflect fifteen years ago. In a world where the musical landscape seems to change every minute and where styles, genres, and performing traditions from every corner of the world combine daily in myriad "unheard of" ways, it is clear that one of the most valuable abilities that any musician can possess is the ability to improvise. For those musicians who have never improvised, Agrell provides a huge number of easily accessible and comprehensible ways to get involved with the process. Though the book’s title clearly suggests an audience of musicians in the classical tradition, I feel that the majority of the exercises would be equally challenging, effective, and educational for musicians from established improvising traditions such as jazz or Indian classical music. Many of the "game" pieces could serve as both simple classroom exercises or as conceptual guidelines for extended improvised performances. The musical range and variety of games, exercises, suggestions, and methods presented is astonishing in both breadth and depth. The book is a real "must read" for music educators (either in private tuition or in ensemble settings) who want to open up their students' understanding of the real creative possibilities of music. It will be equally useful to any musicians of any level of experience who wish to expand the creative and expressive range of their playing.

-- Jared Burrows, PhD
author of Resonances: Exploring Improvisation and Its Implications for Music Education

Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians by Jeffrey Agrell is an amazing contribution to both the education and enjoyment of all who are interested in musical performances of any kind. The design, the content, and especially the manner in which Jeffrey has presented his wildly creative materials is brilliant. Add to that the fact that what this book addresses is the most neglected and perhaps the most important aspect of classical musical growth. With this book teachers and performers alike have a wide open door to years of exploration and learning in how to express themselves through their music and free themselves from a total dependance on the printed page and the deeply ingrained traditions of the classical music traditions. The book is a joy to read, and I can only imagine the impact it will have on students, teachers, and professional musicians who take the time to step outside the rigid confines of their limited training.

-- Douglas Hill, Professor of Music
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jeffrey Agrell’s book, Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians, provides simple and powerful activities which can open up whole new worlds to musicians of any level of experience. He really hits the right notes as it were, in giving students something, but not too much, to hang on to as they explore the world of improvising. It’s a fantastic compendium of ideas, a set of procedures which are fun to do and which lead to profound results. Bravo!

-- Stephen Nachmanovitch
Author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

Jeffrey Agrell

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