At Westminster Arts Academy, we train students on all instruments, from the woodwinds to the brass to the piano and beyond.
We also incorporate some comprehensive ideas in our curriculum and our approach.
One of those is something that we think is key to good music theory and training, but it’s too often neglected in the music training world.
Formal Training and Improvisation
Many left-brained and scientifically minded people view music theory as simply a type of mathematical practice. There can be a cultural element to this, too: some societies are more geared toward or away from formal classic training than others.
This is where you get the young student to study for hours and hours and hours to perform sheet music by rote in very precise ways.
Yes, they can become incredibly proficient. With enough practice, they can become world-class (given the natural talent needed as a base). But that’s not really what everyone wants. People have different goals and objectives.
We would argue that for most people even those who are laser-focused on classical training, it makes sense to include some element of improvisation in music lessons. This is true whether you’re tickling the keys of a baby grand, moving your fingers over the fretwork of a stringed instrument, or tapping the keys of a saxophone or clarinet, etc.
There are the broader intuitive reasons for this value of improvisation – the opening up it does in the imagination, for one – and there are also the engagement differences that come with improvisational learning.
In a lot of ways, improvisation is that lab or hands-on learning opportunity that by-rote sheet music instruction and practice just doesn’t capture.
If you want students to be well-rounded and broadly trained, improvisation is often a good idea in some way, shape, or form.
We can work with students on a customized basis to find out where they stand and what type of instruction is best. That’s what any good school does – it customizes lessons to the student’s needs. Just as you work with different levels of skill, you also work with those guiding principles in place based on the student’s overall goals and objectives.
But don’t forget the beauty of improvised music. Don’t forget that even a well-trained classical musician can take a moment to study the strings and make their own joyful noise! Take a look at the web site for more details on how to support your student’s journey with any instrument.