One of the other activities we are doing each day of Piano Camp is improvising. I start out by having all the students play the pentascale, chord progression, and arpeggio of a given key. We do this several times all together. Then, I play an accompaniment CD and they play along with the CD.
After one run-through, I let them choose what order they want to play the various elements in (scale, arpeggio, etc.) as long as they stay on beat and try to match the style and character of the accompaniment. I conduct while they play and give them a signal leading into the final measure so that we all end together.
I have a couple of students at the piano, a couple at one keyboard, one at another keyboard, one on the bells, and one on the xylophone. After a couple times through, they all switch to a different instrument, and those on the keyboards can select another orchestral instrument for their sound setting. (The ones on the xylophone and bells just play the chord root or the chord shell during the chord progressions.)
By Thursday and Friday, I should be able to let them do a full-fledged improvisation in the key, but for now it helps to give them some structure within which to play. Either way it’s a lot of fun and sounds pretty cool!
To be continued…