Blind from birth, Ken Medema has always lived in a world of sound. Known and admired internationally for his improvisation skills, Ken outlines the steps to teaching your choir students how to improvise, unlocking both their voice and their courage. As a bonus, Ken also writes an impromptu country song about Ryan’s new bride, Amanda!
Highlight to Tweet: “My program to win friends through rock&roll wasn’t that successful. I started with 1 friend and graduated with 2.” -Ken Medema
“Daring in one area usually leads to daring in another.” -Ken Medema
- Ken Medema has been blind from birth. High school choir was a revelation for him; a class based on sound instead of sight. He pursued his love of music through college and into a music therapy career before turning to composition and performance.
- Three goals for choir experiences: build community; explore new things (improvisation); introduce new music
- Every time you speak, you are improvising. You simply respond.
- Start with a melody
- Throw in some harmony
- Introduce some simple call and response phrases, building each time.
- Return to main tune.
- Model a phrase too long for a singer to echo; encourage them to respond with something similar.
- When encouraging a singer to improvise, kneel in front of them instead of standing over them. This “servant posture” is more welcoming and less intimidating.
- Benefits of improvisation:
- Students get to hear their own voice, and the voices of their comrades.
- They realize the ability to MAKE music, not just reproduce someone else’s.
- People gain courage, not just in the musical realm, but elsewhere.
Ken Medema has been singing and composing since 1973.
His music encompasses solo recordings, improvisation, personal songs for individuals, and tons of choral pieces.
Blind from birth, he seeks to offer perspective for the voiceless. the choir room was where he first found his home and freedom to be himself.
- Ken’s website
- Ken Medema on Facebook
- Choir Nation group on Facebook – Going to TMEA? Meet up with other Choir Ninjas! Join the Choir Nation Facebook group for time and location.
- Email Patreon – Support the podcast!
Sight Reading Factory (Use promo code “NINJA” at checkout for 10 free student accounts!)
My Music Folders (Use promo code “NINJA” at checkout for “last column” or best pricing – usually reserved for bulk purchases only!)