"I didn't know I could improvise."
One of my flute students said this today as she walked into her lesson. Yesterday was Woodwind Day at KU, and we were lucky enough to have Project Trio as our guest artists. Peter, Eric, and Greg gave an amazing, interactive class on the importance of rhythmic stability, improvisation, and how the two work together to create music.
The day also included reading sessions and performances for each of the different instruments, a class on woodwind doubling, a session on practice techniques by oboist Nobuo Kitigawa, vendors, and a faculty recital. The day culminated with a performance by Project Trio in KU's Ursa Minor Cafe. It was really wonderful throughout. The kids all had a lot of fun (proof in the trendy, but necessary, video below).
The most successful part for me was the joy in learning that I saw just oozing from the students. Whether trying to subdivide a metronome pulse, improvising in front of a group for the first time in their lives, or sounding out a melody, they were all thrilled to be simply... learning. They let themselves go, they allowed themselves to make mistakes, and they experimented with music. Project Trio does a remarkable job of pulling groups of students together and creating an ambiance that is conducive to both finding a comfort zone and then pushing past it; I definitely aspire to the same success in my teaching. We have a great bunch of music students here at KU; it's just a matter of finding the entry point that works for each student.
Side-note: During the well-attended evening concert (KU's President even came), I couldn't help but marvel over the the day. Although they were 3 years older, I was slightly-better-than-peripheral friends with Greg, Eric, and Peter back in college, and it makes me smile to think about how we've all evolved into functional adults.