Why don’t classical musicians improvise? Why do jazz players get to have all the fun? And how do they develop such fabulous technique and aural skills? With these three books, Jeffrey Agrell opens the door to improvisation for all non-jazz musicians who thought it was beyond their ability to play extemporaneously. Gently, step by step, Agrell leads musicians through a series of games, rather than exercises. The game format takes the pressure off of classically trained musicians, steering them away from their fixation on mistake-free performance and introducing the basic concepts of playing with music itself instead of obsessing over a perfect rendition of a written score.
Jeffrey removes the fear and mystique of the improvisational process and empowers all to explore their creative capacities. With his imaginative and accessible suggestions, suitable for any context, the door to limitless possibilities will be opened. This is a resource that needs to be in every practice room. Students have astonishing abilities to create. Give them the opportunity.
—Ardith Haley, Acadia University and Arts Education Consultant
The Province of Nova Scotia
If you are afraid to improvise, this is a doorway that you can walk through, alone or in small groups (or big groups!). But it is not just about improvising – these games free up all of your playing, whether or not you choose to improvise in public. Who knows, you might actually have fun! The pedagogical value extends from elementary to professional levels, for personal or classroom use. Agrell’s work is a permanent part of my curriculum for both performers and future teachers. I cannot recommend these books, past, present, and future, more enthusiastically.
The Horn Call, October 2013, Vol. XLIV:1