improvising a workshop


Music at church went well yesterday. Today I have to get going on preparing for my workshop in improvisation I am giving tomorrow evening. I have been thinking about it and gathering some reference books to show and share. I have the talk/discussion outlined in my mind. I plan to do at least one hand out and keep the evening brief but full of content.

One thing that has occurred to me is how different my notion of improvisation is from that of many trained organists. The AGO and other organizations hold improvisation contests. I suspect these improvisers are making up music that utilizes strictly organized motives and harmony. I also suspect that much of this kind of music is pretty deadly. At least it might be for my ears.

When I took the AAGO exam I didn’t pass because I failed one section: modulation. This is hilarious because many people have told me they think of me as a good improviser. But I’m sure I did something unorthodox in my modulation which was detected by skilled ears. I did have passing scores, but didn’t get the Associate certificate because of that one section.

They have since made the exams more evenly progressive in difficulty. Judging from the announced requirements over the years, the Associate certificate seems to be a bit easier than it was when I took it. I even received a letter from the AGO after they completely redid the exams urging me to retake it, but I never did so.

In the meantime, I have spent my entire musical life improvising and now have some strong ideas about what makes a good composition and a good improvisation. They have little to do with the strict improvising which has long been expected of organists. But I think I can make some helpful comments tomorrow evening and possibly free some people up or at least encourage them to utilize skills they already have in this area but might not have identified.

Why I Use Trigger Warnings – The New York Times

Thinking about when to prepare people for what’s coming.

Big Tech Has Become Way Too Powerful – The New York Times

Thinking about who influences our lives and our government.

Horror Drove Her From South. 100 Years Later, She Returned. – The New York Times

When I read stories like this I continue to be amazed at low information people who insist injustice is dead in our society.

My Father, the Priest – The New York Times

This writer’s bias is showing throughout this article. The premise that one cannot be the child of a priest means that the only priests are celibate Roman Catholic ones.


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