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Improvising in Classical Music

By January 10, 2012April 19th, 2019string teaching

 Improvising in Classical Music

Classical music is so superb and technically demanding that technique and interpretation are normally the main areas focused on. This can result in a sort of freezing perfectionism, where you feel unable to play anything on your instrument unless you have been practising it for hours every day for the last few weeks.

I was never taught to improvise when I was a student, but having recently returned to classical music professionally after a long time I’ve been determined to overcome some of my former insecurities and now I start practice with improvisation –  either just playing freely to express how I feel, or playing tunes by ear.

The great thing about improvisation is that it can’t be wrong: and it’s this sense of freedom that is such a welcome balance from the intensity of classical training. In my experience improvisation also encourages straightforward enthusiasm and love of playing your instrument and helps give pupils the feeling that the teacher is responding to them individually, rather than carrying out a formal instruction session.

Of course all the best interpretations of classical music sound as if the performer has made the music their own, and this is another sense in which regular improvisation can be incredibly beneficial: in improvisation the music really is your own and you alone are its master.


Joanna Borrett

Author Joanna Borrett

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