Letting unplanned things happen?

Edward said: Feb 6, 2019
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
60 posts

How often do you have an open-ended or improvisational practice session or lesson?

In other words, where the result isn’t pre-programmed and the outcome not a specific expectation (whether technical or musical or other achievement step), but rather exploratory and/or improvisational.

I’m curious about how Suzuki parents and teachers handle spontaneity, invention, and open-ended creation, when it comes to music. I’m continually surprised to find out what students will come up with when I don’t pre-program the outcome.

Is it sort of like planning for spontaneity? Something my wife and I have to do!

Do you have a suggestion or story of how this has looked in your home or studio?

Here’s an article with some specific ways I’ve tried to be more intentional about unplanned outcomes, that might help to get the conversation started:


Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Five Ways To Motivate Your Kids To Practice

Jennifer Visick said: Feb 9, 2019
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1042 posts

Edward, that’s a great blog post. :-)

It immediately makes me think of Alice Kay Kanack’s “Creative Ability Development” method, which is a series of books and games designed to teach musical improvisation in order to inspire creative thinking, very similar to what you’re talking about.

The two benefits you state in your blog post are exactly the reasons why I love teaching improv:

> “1) The brain is more alert when it must pay attention because something is happening in an unpredictable way, and
> 2) It decreases fear of making mistakes, which in turn increases fluency and comfort with playing.”

It was taking a class with Alice that first got me to realize that I can (and should) teach improvisation to my students regularly, as part of the private lesson and as part of group classes, as if it were a basic and necessary part of learning music, just like teaching good tone quality or scales or how to hold the bow.

I recommend that anyone interested in learning to think more creatively, and in allowing that space for creative thinking to grow in their students, should try using Alice’s CAD books and go take a class where she’s sharing how to teach with them.

Kurt Meisenbach said: Feb 9, 2019
Kurt Meisenbach
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Plano, TX
43 posts

Edward, thank you for your question, and Jennifer, thank you for your response. I have looked at the web site address you provided. It is excellent.

I am finishing a book for parents to help them become better practice partners at home. One of the chapters talks about the importance of anticipating and predicting and the positive impact these two activities have on how we learn. I will now add the role of imagination to round out the trio.

Thanks again to both of you for this very useful information.

Susan Beth Barak said: Feb 10, 2019
Susan Beth Barak
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Newmarket, ON
8 posts

I absolutely agree with Edward, Jennifer, and Kurt. Alice Kay Kanack’s CAD should be a requisite companion to Suzuki material. Dr. Suzuki called Alice Kay Kanack “Mozart’s Mother!” You should also check out her book Improvising String Quartets written with Dr Sera Smolen. I am planning to write an article about the importance of regular improv and creative production for submission to the Journal, after I complete some more research in the courses I’m taking at the University of Toronto.

Lori Bolt said: Feb 11, 2019
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
254 posts

I enjoy using CAD with my piano students. It’s so user friendly, and sets the students up for success! I use the Musical Improvisation for Children for all ages and Fun Improvisation for Piano for all but the earliest beginners. They love it!

Lori Bolt

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