ready to go past playing prescribed parts?

May 13, 2011

Sample Educational Outreach

A group learns jazz violin

Violinist Christian Howes is widely regarded as one of the leading educators in the field of “Creative String Players”, i.e., strings in jazz and other improvisational music, having been invited to teach or present at institutions and conferences worldwide including Berklee College of Music, The New School, Oberlin College, the Cincinatti Conservatory of music, University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, Ohio State University, IAJE, ASTA, NAMM, IMEA, OMEA, KASTA, FMEA, AASTA, the Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp, the Berklee String Fling, Jazz Connections, and hundreds of high schools and middle schools..

Having taught for three years as an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music, he founded his own innovative string camp in 2003– the Creative Strings Workshop, occurring annually in Columbus, Ohio. The Workshop attracts students of all ages and from all over the world. Through performances at venues throughout the city, participants gain experience with improvisation-based music.

Christian’s clinics focus on practical ways for classically trained string players to incorporate and feel comfortable with improvisation and composition. He breaks down harmony for string players while also helping them to improvise without using harmonic progressions. Conventions specific to blues, jazz, rock, world music, and r and b are made comprehensible. His insights into the business of music motivate and inspire musicians to create a lifestyle which allows them to work more often as a creative musician.

Christian conducts clinics and master classes all over the world and often is able to help institutions find subsidies through sponsorships from Yamaha and D’Addario.

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Learning jazz violin through a improv lesson

With a U.S. mandate to incorporate improvisation and composition into the education of all music students in public schools, traditional teachers often find themselves unequipped to work within the new paradigm. As a violinist and composer in jazz and other modern styles with a penchant for sharing and entertaining, Christian is an inspiration to students in the rapidly expanding world of “alternative styles” for classical string players.

There is an increasing demand among today’s orchestral string players for alternative approaches to music. Classical musicians are often insulated from improvisation-based musical communities and they feel frustrated with what seems to be an inability to compose and improvise their own music. Often this discourages the development of their own musical voices.

Says Howes, “as we become more and more educated, we often become more inhibited. I want to encourage students to trust themselves and discover their creative voice. Total musicianship includes the ability to improvise and compose, the understanding of functional music theory, and a basic level of exposure to a wide variety of styles, as well as the cultures from which they come”. Christian’s music and playing reinforces his message, as he performs classical concertos with orchestras and is also fluent in jazz, folk styles, r and b, rock, and more.

He has had educational materials translated in Japanese, Brazilian, and Spanish. Howes will return for the second time in December, 2010 as a featured artist and teacher at the Singapore International String Conference. He has also presented at universities or conservatories in Austria, Holland, and Germany. He teaches regularly for the New School in NYC.

He is the author of the “Violin Harmony Handbook”, the video tutorial series, “Making Improvisation Easy for Classical Musicians”, and numerous educational articles and videos, all of which are available here in his website: https://christianhowes.com/shop/

Christian has been invited in 2011 to be a special guest clinician at the national ASTA convention, working with teachers and students from around the country to present a Rock Orchestra workshop and performance.