November 6, 2017

Creative Strings Workshop – Lausanne, Switzerland (January 27-28, 2018)

Improvisation and Contemporary Styles for Bowed String Players

Christian Howes and Baiju Bhatt


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

A Focus on Creative Musicianship Free Improvisation, Arranging, Composition, Modal, Harmonic, and Rhythmic internalization, Contemporary styles, and related subjects. 

Small and large ensemble coaching will also lead to a culminating concert

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


Compagnie Albertine

Route de Genève 46

1004 Lausanne



500 CHF  ***Enroll by December 31st to receive a 100 CHF discount!!


  1. Make a 150 CHF deposit by Dec. 31st (we’ll apply your discount later)
  2. Use the promo code VIP at checkout if you’d prefer to pay in full


January 27th:  10:00-18:00

January 28th: 10:00-18:00 and evening concert (Lausanne, location TBA)



  1. Become creatively self-expressed and develop your musical voice.
  2. Internalize harmony on your instrument
  3. Become fluent in contemporary styles so you can jam with musicians outside of classical music.
  4. Be able to use amplification and effects.
  5. Get gigs and expand career opportunities
  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.

Tonal Improvisation, Arranging, and Composition

Through a series of easy playing and reading exercises, participants will learn how to create functional melodies over chord progressions. 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.

* This session teaches composition, voice leading, harmony, arranging, and improvisation through an integrated and comprehensive approach.


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

Short/description: Using loop pedals and effects with amplified string instruments is cool! It also 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. Blues as a historical and cultural phenomenon
  2. As a literary form
  3. As a musical form – Harmonically/Melodically/Rhythmically, in many iterations
  4. As an intangible (and invisible to many) musical element which shows up in many styles of American music (this is arguably tied to #2 above, i.e., culture)
  5. The practice of combining the major and minor pentatonic and/or blues scales
  6. Examining how bass lines and inner voice patterns show up in common iterations of 12 bar blues, and various common rhythmic/dance forms.


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. Students can also conduct the improvising ensemble.

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:  Advanced and/or Intermediate.  How to apply a modal approach as an improviser, arranger, or composer.

Related Video:


Internalizing Harmony on the Violin, Viola, and Cello (advanced only)

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

Music Business – (For professionals and college students)

The Music Biz Mastermind seminar is based on the program Christian has used to help many professional musicians attract more projects, gigs, students, and clients, as detailed in testimonials from graduates HERE.

Most freelancers lack a fundamental orientation towards basic sales and marketing. These skills, combined with clarifying goals, are at the core of this module.


Partners: Compagnie Albertine, EJMA, ESML, Red Sun Prod


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