Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Ryan Lewis

Second Reader

Dr. Becky Morrison

Third Reader

Dr. Kevin C. Motl


As music majors at universities, students often spend hours a day focused on improving their musical skills. They work on advancing on their instruments, further understanding advanced music theory, memorizing entire works for music history exams, improving their artistic interpretation, increasing their precision, and more. They spend so much time focusing on how much they need to improve while not appreciating where they currently are in their skills or the application of those skills.

It does not have to be this way.

I was inspired to further study free improvisation because I learned firsthand how truly freeing it can be for musicians. In the summer of 2016, I spent a week at a music conference with a group called the Creative Motion Alliance. I had a bad day and took an hour to be by myself, but one of the faculty members, Harold McKinney, came along and had me follow him to the recital hall of our host university. We sat on the stage and improvised together for that full hour. It started simply, but slowly progressed to be interesting, complex, very real music. I felt better afterward, and it pushed me musically, creatively, and intellectually. I felt a release and freedom that I had never felt in music, and it reminded me of the joy there can be in music that I had been missing after years of focusing solely on the things I was doing wrong. I felt like a different artist when I left that hall, and that is when I knew I needed to devote time to studying and understanding improvisation.



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