Creativity Workshop for Songwriters

Course Number

Rooted in the African cultural diaspora, improvisation is an ancient form of musical communication. The process of discovering and collaborating on ideas in the moment is at the core of productive learning, and provides a solid foundation for songwriting. This workshop introduces improvisation tools and techniques to explore effective processes of creating music and lyrics. Students learn via action-based teaching methodology in the classroom, where students’ instruments include voices, hands, feet and desks, as well as piano and guitar. Students improvise and perform original songs in the classroom and create a final performance presentation at the end of the semester. They learn various approaches to finding and cultivating song ideas through the art of playing improvisation games including free word association, singing melodies, clapping and rapping rhythms, jamming with instruments, object writing (stream of consciousness), and rhyming (games are loosely based off of those presented in the famous television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? but in a songwriting context). Students develop words into lyric rhythms, lyric rhythms into melodic motifs, and melodic motifs into longer phrases over harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Students successfully apply improvisational techniques to their songwriting practice in order to become more prolific and have an intrinsically rewarding experience. With emphasis on incorporating musical dialogue, student-run composition, and instructor-initiated improvisation techniques, students find total engagement in creative activity as a means of initiating more possibility for inspiration, innovation, and song collaboration.

Required Of
Electable By
Major Elective for
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring
Course Chair
Rodney Alejandro
Taught By
Courses may not be offered at the listed locations or taught by the listed faculty for every semester. Consult to find course information for a specific semester.