Ellen is available for all kinds of multi-disciplinary improvisation.
To me, improvisation
is real-time composition. Many people are scared by the notion that improvisation
is playing the "right" notes over jazz changes, or by thinking
that you must have the exact key, time signature and feel. All of these
can be restrictive. I feel improvisation is the place where you can actually
find out more about yourself than if you were just reading a piece of music
When I improvise, either by myself or with others, I like to balance the
head with the heart. Just as there are scales and tone exercises for classical
flute technique, I believe that there are exercises for improvisation:
to learn how to listen to somebody better, how to listen to yourself better
and how to go with what you are hearing even if it's not what you planned
for. You can work on developing these chops, and then just let yourself
In teaching improvisation, I teach that there is a balance between being
totally free, yet not abandoned. I like to teach using pentatonic scales,
sections of pieces, graphic scores, different rhythmic ideas and even one
note; the idea with improvisation is to expand the comfort zone. And that
means getting to be a better player in the process of being able to express
more and more ideas. I believe improvising leads to learning more tools
and to thinking of things that you've never thought of before. Improvising
is fun to do with others, in a duet or in a larger group, so that you don′t
Anyone can learn how to improvise. We improvise all the time! Can you talk?
Then you're improvising! You have a collection of words and you're putting
them together. If you can talk or write a sentence you can improvise! Improvising
is coming up with the musical vocabulary and grammar. I like to keep that
vocabulary and grammar loose and open so that everyone can improvise.
I believe you can learn improvisation from the very beginning, as long
as you're learning notes and sounds. This way, improvisation might even
be freer because you're exploring your instrument and the sounds in a way
in which everything is possible. If we go into music with the idea that
everything is possible then we can more clearly develop our own sound and
sense of personality through our instrument.