Jon Damian

Professor

"During my years as a performer and teacher of improvisation, I have noticed that the more advanced we become as improvisers, the less we tend to respond to the basic musical events that happen around us. To make my students aware of this, I started an advanced performance lab class 15 years ago called the Creative Workshop, or Cre.W., to help players learn to really listen as they improvise. Although Cre.W. is a guitar lab, the techniques we use work well with any instrumental combination."

"Participants don’t need advanced sight-reading skills or the ability to shred through a line of chord symbols. The goal is to heighten listening skills and truly play in the moment to compose and improvise original works spontaneously. Inspirational sources for Cre.W. compositions have ranged from the alphabet to the zodiac, Bach to bop, and jelly beans to doughnuts. For one piece, we even had a goldfish serve as conductor. Guest artists from various media, including dance and the visual arts, have joined the workshop on particular pieces."

"Ensemble members develop their musical communication skills by exploring the basic sound dimensions (dynamics, rhythm, melodic direction, and note articulation). In every playing situation, a greater awareness of these elements strengthens creative potential. The Cre.W. player quickly learns that true improvisation is the ability to be aware of a musical moment and to react to it efficiently. Communication is simply taking advantage of your ensemble neighbor’s ideas."

Career Highlights

 

  • A.A.S., New York City Community College
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Performances with Boston Symphony Orchestra; American Repertory Theater; Boston Opera Company; Boston Pops Orchestra with John Williams and Keith Lockhart; Leonard Bernstein; Johnny Cash; Howard McGhee; Jimmy Giuffre; Gunther Schuller; Bill Frisell; Luciano Pavarotti; and Sheila Jordan
  • Recordings with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Collage, Nova, the Jazz in the Classroom series, Bill Frisell, Wolf Soup, and the Boston Pops Orchestra
  • Recipient of Pro Arts Consortium Public Service Award