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Mark O'Connor with Frankie Gavin and WSU string students
String Improvisation Day November 2003
Improvisation for Stringed Instruments

In 2003 I founded WSU's string improvisation program. Supported with three part-time teachers, WSU's string improvisation program provided a gentle introduction to various forms of string improvisation for people of all ages. In support of the program, we hosted String Improvisation Day each year.

The purpose of String Improvisation Day was to introduce improvisation to violinists, violists, and cellists who have little or no experience with improvisation specifically. During the day, students chose from a variety of clinics, including free improvisation, baroque ornamentation, blues, popular music, bluegrass, and contemporary praise and worship. The day ended with a clinic and performance from a nationally recognized string improvisor.

In 2003 we combined WSU's String Improvisation program and String Improvisation Day with Sharing Music Sharing Culture. Two WSU string improvisation classes interacted with students and professors at the University of Limerick's Irish World Music Center using videoconferencing and a web portal called BlackBoard. Students at the Irish World Music Center taught WSU students how to play Irish Fiddle music. Conversely, students at WSU taught their colleagues at the Irish World Music Center how to play jazz and blues. For String Improvisation Day we invited guest Mark O'connor to WSU and Frankie Gavin to the the Irish World Music Center. Through videoconferencing, students and guests at the Irish World Music Center and at WSU coached and taught each other.