Trombonist – Composer – Educator


Inspiring musicians of all stylistic backgrounds, technical abilities and experiences to develop and deepen their improvisational skills with creativity and awareness through techniques, exercises and games of creative limitations.

•    Focuses on building creativity, awareness and listening skills

•    All levels of experience and stylistic background can be accommodated

•    Includes exercises and games for working within creative limitations

Christian often hears, “I wish I could improvise but I don’t know what to do.” from students and musicians who are unfamiliar with improvisation. This often comes from musicians trained in a classical tradition who have learned exclusively by reading and find the freedom of improvisation to be intriguing but overwhelming. In this workshop, Christian presents techniques of teaching improvisation that can be learned by any musician in ways that expand their comfort zone while respecting and building from their own personal abilities.

Christian says, “In my experience of teaching improvisation, I find that developments in creativity come from practice within carefully chosen limitations. In my improvisation workshops, I help the students discover and try out limitations for practice and performance which will focus their efforts towards the goals they wish to achieve making their practice more efficient and rewarding.”

An improvisation masterclass or residency can be structured to include ensemble coaching, an interactive workshop and/or a lecture. Whether it is a big band, a small group, a wind ensemble, or anything else, Christian can usually prepare the group to play a concert using the signs in three 2-hour rehearsals. (In some cases, two 2-hour rehearsals will be enough. Some of the rehearsals can be led over Skype or FaceTime before he arrives if timing is an issue.) Additional rehearsals, if available, will allow work with additional signs, deeper exploration into the concepts and opportunity to form a more unified group sound. In workshops, depending on the student's level of experience with improvising, Christian uses the musical concepts to guide improvisers such as mapping density levels, range or silence within a composition; creating games involving changing roles of improvisers or asking the ensemble members to simply focus on a particular musical aspect while improvising. As a lecture, he introduces these concepts of improvisation, describes different ways to approach improvisation and shares examples in live performance, my own recordings or recordings of others.

My professional ensemble, Scrambler uses the Soundpainting sign language as part of our performance practice. For some examples of Soundpainting in performance, visit the Scrambler playlist on YouTube.