November 15, 2017

Creative Strings Workshop – Dallas, TX (March 29-31, 2019)

Improvisation and Contemporary Styles for Bowed String Players

Christian Howes and Chili Dog Strings

Creative Strings Players

This intensive mini-conference will include masterclasses, group lessons, and chamber coaching for performers and teachers on bowed strings seeking transformative growth and professional development. 

Eventbrite - 2019 Creative Strings Workshop Dallas

Students, professional performers and teachers are welcome, including advanced jazz players and those with no improvisation training.

Location: Chili Dog Strings Studio, 8438 Cain River Dr, Frisco, TX 75035


  • $500 for two-day Adult Intensive March 29-30 (Participants are welcome to stay on March 31 to observe the Youth Program.)
  • $175 for Introduction to Improvisation (March 29)
  • $125 for one-day Youth Program (March 31)


March 29-30, 2019: Adult Intensive

  • Introduction to Improvisation (March 29th): 10:00am-1:00pm
    • Learn and practice the first principles of Improvisation in this essential introductory class, that’s suitable for everyone! For ALL ages, experience levels, and string instruments
  • Creative Strings Bootcamp (March 29-30th): 10:00am-6:00pm
    • A comprehensive 2-day intensive for advanced players, covering high-level topics including contemporary styles and harmony.
      For Pro Players, Teachers and Advanced Students 

March 31, 2019: Youth Program, 1:00pm – 6:00pm (Teachers are also welcome!)

  • The Creative Strings Workshop Youth Program provides an affordable opportunity for young string players to study fiddle styles, blues, rock, world music, & jazz as well as learn about arranging and composing, how to amplify and play electric instruments, improvise their own solos, and try many new approaches to music making.
Eventbrite - 2019 Creative Strings Workshop Dallas


  1. Become creatively self-expressed and develop your musical voice.
  2. Internalize harmony, voice-leading, scales, modes, and apply them.
  3. Become fluent in contemporary styles so you can jam with musicians outside of classical music, create YouTube covers, and more.
  4. Be able to use amplification and effects.
  5. Get gigs and take your creative musical career to the next level.
  6. Teachers: Gain age-appropriate sequences to share with students
  7. Gain comfort in improvisation, composition, and arranging.

Detailed Curriculum:

Improvisation, Contemporary Styles, and Related subjects for classically trained string players. 

Free Improvisation, Arranging/Composition, Harmonic/Rhythmic Internalization, Contemporary Styles, and much more…

Tonal Improvisation, Arranging, and Composition:

Melodic improvisation and composition are demystified as we discover how to easily construct melodies, bass lines, and accompaniment parts. Throughout the session, participants will improvise over chord progressions in bluegrass, reggae, waltz, rock, latin, and classical styles.

Watch this video for a sample of Christian’s teaching:

Amplified strings, Looping and Effects In The Classroom, Practice Room, And Stage

Short/description: Using loop pedals and effects with amplified string instruments allows teachers to easily engage students in group exercises related to both traditional and eclectic styles. This session presents an overview of how to use loops and effects as a tool for teaching, practice, and performance. Gain insights into the basics of looping technology, how to create loops, common issues with looping, and how to go beyond the basics to get your students excited about creative practice.

Related Video:


  1. As literary and musical form – Harmonic, Melodic, and Rhythmic applications.
  2. Insider tips including how to combine the major and minor pentatonic and/or blues scales
  3. How bass lines and inner voice patterns show up in common iterations of 12 bar blues


Free Improvisation and Non-Tonal Composition

Participants will compose in small groups using “composition games.” During this interactive session you will feel empowered by the end of the session to perform your compositions and apply what you learned in your daily practice or teaching.

Related Videos:

Conducted Group Improvisation

Using cue cards and a system of hand signals, Christian conducts a large ensemble in group improvisation.  Engage in call and response, looping, “musical wrestling”, vamps, modal grooves, occasional musical chaos, with a multitude of stylistic applications. Participants also get to conduct!

Conduction is a popular practice among contemporary ensembles worldwide, including small groups and even orchestras. Christian’s approach to conduction borrows from a variety of sources and caters to the skill set of classically trained string players.

Modal approach to improvisation:  How to apply a modal approach as an improviser, arranger, or composer.

Internalizing Harmony on the Violin, Viola, and Cello 

An exhaustive approach to internalizing harmony on bowed string instruments. Including voice leading arpeggios, scales, and double stops and triple stops. Internalizing chord progressions via bass line, inner voices, and sequential patterns.  

Related Videos: “Anatomy of a Groove” Playlist

Eventbrite - 2019 Creative Strings Workshop Dallas

Have a question? Email Chris or Neil or Rachel

Creative Strings is a non-profit organization with a mission to support music education through outreach, summer conference, and online curriculum.