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Articles on Improvisation

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Robotic orchestra conductor ‘Yumi’ performs on stage with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Lucca in Italy in 2017. Laura Lezza/Getty Images

Why improvisation is the future in an AI-dominated world

Machines have been getting better at mimicking improvisation. But can this distinctly human process serve as a bulwark against the mechanization of life and art?
Anishinaabe musician Melody McKiver. plays at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax, May 2018. (Steve Louie/Flickr)

Musical communities and improvisation: ‘Finding a way out of no way’ in this year of precarious living

Meditations on improvisation in a year of both COVID-19 and what some called ‘the other pandemic’ of racism push us to go deeper to find ways to sustain healthy public common life.
This is not a wok: Japanese musician Natsuki Tamura explores sounds at an online global festival of improvisation, IF 2020. (Ajay Heble/IF 2020)

3 lessons from musical improvisation to help navigate 2021

Improvisation asks us to trust that surprise will teach us something. As we enter a new year and a post-pandemic landscape, musical improvisation offers inspiration.
Disruption does not always drive the most monumental or ingenious innovation. The stress of running from wolves is hardly conducive to good planning. Shutterstock

A wolf in sheep’s clothing: Disruption is overrated in terms of innovation

Necessity and desperation are portrayed as the prime motivators of innovative behaviour, but in reality, stability and holistic incentives go a long way to freeing up creative energy.
Training in improvisational theatre enables health professionals to learn deeper empathy, as well as mental agility and other clinical skills. (Shutterstock)

How theatre training can boost your doctor’s empathy

Health professionals need a dose of drama in their training to build clinical and interpersonal skills.
While improv comedy in the classroom might nurture your child’s stage talent, it’s also a highly effective way of teaching literacy. Pictured here, La Ligue d'Improvisation Montréalaise. (Wikipedia Commons)

Comedy in the classroom? How improv can promote literacy

In the elementary classroom, improv can nurture a collaborative and creative climate in which even reticent kids want to participate.
Some musicians believe certain instruments, such as the trumpet, are more ‘masculine’. Alenavlad/shutrerstock

Why is there so little space for women in jazz music?

Women are disturbingly under-represented in Australian jazz, with relatively few female composers and instrumentalists. What’s holding them back? And what can be done about it?
Jazz in the classroom not only teaches children to play instruments; they may also learn a range of essential life skills. Reuters/Carlos Jasso

From the club to the classroom: all that jazz is good for the kids

Many middle-class parents buy classical CDs because it is supposed to make their kids clever. But a jazz-loving academic has started using her favourite genre in early childhood learning.
Orchestra of nature: artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has converted pieces of trees into music. Eric C Bryan

Forest sonata: listening to the music of the trees

What is the music of trees? German artist Bartholomäus Traubeck spun slices of logs on turntables that translate their textures and annual rings into music. Traubeck calls the result Years, and I played…

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