Improvisation in String Ensembles


Especially in improvisation, people connect because the action happens together in the present moment. The interaction between all participants will be very intensive. In improvisation, players are confronted with the unpredictable. However, the degree of the unpredictable varies depending on the task and also the stylistics.

I like to describe my preliminary considerations with the following image: We build an arena in which somewhere a tiger is sitting. This tiger is called the unpredictable. Depending on the task, he may be more or less tethered. Maybe there is only a very small decision to make, like when only one paw can move freely. By not having to make certain decisions, participants can engage more intensely with the aspects of improvisation that are just left free.

In the workshop, various improvisation exercises and concepts will be practically tried out with the participants and then didactically reflected upon. This includes the question of how a concept or task can be adapted for different target groups. Here, I draw on my years of searching for tasks that are interesting for beginners in improvisation as well as for very experienced players.

Furthermore, I would like to explore when and why extra-musical inspirations such as texts, titles, pictures, films, etc. could be used and when music-implemented tasks make sense.

Basically, the size of the group plays a role in improvising since, in larger ensembles, the communication structures evolve from chamber music-like more to orchestral or choral structures. In the workshop, I will present ideas for large groups, as these can then also be applied in class groups.

Participants who want to actively participate should bring their instruments.

About the speaker

Corinna Eikmeier, Cello

Prof. Dr. Corinna Eikmeier (born 1969) studied Violoncello, Contemporary Music, and Improvisation. During her university course, she developed a keen interest in the relationship between physical movement and musical expression and enrolled in a Feldenkrais course in Vienna, which she completed in 1995 alongside her music degree.

Being part of numerous interdisciplinary projects, she is also a regular member of the long-term ensembles: Cello en vogue and Erstes improvisierendes Streichorchester (First Improvising String Orchestra). She works as a lecturer at the University of Music Hannover, where she teaches Feldenkrais and Improvisation. She also teaches Improvisation and Feldenkrais seminars to children and adults and gives classes as a freelance cello teacher. From 2017-2018, she was a guest professor for music pedagogy at Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg.

From 2007-2009, she was a Dorothea Erxleben scholar, working on a project about Feldenkrais and improvisation and developed many improvisation exercises based on the principles of the Feldenkrais method. The results are published under the title: “Ungewohnte Positionen. Ein praktischer Beitrag zur Anwendung der Feldenkrais-Methode in der musikalischen Improvisation” (Unusual Positions: A Practical Contribution to the Application of the Feldenkrais Method in Musical Improvisation). She continued this as her Ph.D. project at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien. The title of her dissertation is: “Bewegungsqualität und Musizierpraxis. Zum Verhältnis von Feldenkrais-Methode und musikalischer Improvisation” (Movement Quality and Music Practice: About the Relationship between the Feldenkrais Method and Musical Improvisation).

From 2017-2018, she was a guest professor for music pedagogy at BTU Cottbus/Senftenberg. Since 2020, she is a professor for instrumental and singing pedagogy at Musikhochschule Lübeck.