Clinics and Workshops


Dr. Bowman is currently presenting a series of workshops entitled “The Joy of Improvisation” (see upcoming workshops). He has presented these and other workshops, lectures, lecture/recitals, and master classes in California, Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii, and Germany.

Other presentations include:
“Developing an Effective and Healthy Keyboard Technique”
“Tools for using the Four Learning Modalities to Optimize Teaching and Learning”
“The Music of Domenico Scarlatti”,
“Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’”
“Stress Reduction for Musicians”
“Ortho-Bionomytm for Musicians”

“Joy of Improvisation Workshop” Levels 1-3 (Saturday/Sunday October 3-4, 2009
at the studio of Joanne Masters, 11 La Serena Court, Alamo, California.)

Download the “Joy of Improvisation” registration form.

Workshop for teachers “Improvisation à la mode” (For the Contra Costa Branch of the MTAC, Thursday, October 15, 2009, 10 a.m. at the Studio of Joanne Masters (see address above.)

presented by ROBERT E. BOWMAN, D.M.A., workshop facilitator

The Joy of Improvisation I—Help! You want me to do what?

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: An introduction to the wonderful world of Improvisation for Musicians, including those with traditional classical training who would love to improvise, but just don’t know how to begin. A practical and fun approach that demystifies the art of improvisation and helps build self confidence through simple exercises that build upon concepts and abilities participants already possess as well as introduce new concepts and skills that can be developed over time after the workshop. Using simple structured approaches, participants will learn how to create short pieces representative of selected Classical, World, Folk, and Blues styles. In addition, they will begin to explore and express their own music.

WORKSHOP CONTENT* Basic principles and creation of short solo and group improvisations selected from the following:
Basic principles.

  • African rhythms
  • Contrast (range, dynamics, articulations, and timbre)
  • Interval fragments and scales (pentatonic, whole tone, chromatic, modal, major, minor, and blues in C)
  • Triads of the major scale and the I IV I V7 I cadence in various voicings.
  • Figured bass and lead sheet symbols for the above cadences.
  • Introduce cadences using secondary chords. Repeat the progressions using various keyboard figurations. Decorate with non-chord tones.
  • Harmonization “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” and/or other folk songs using I IV6/4 V6/5 chords and secondary chords with block chords and familiar keyboard figurations.
  • Short prelude in the style of Bach.
  • Beginning 12 bar blues.

*NOTE: Other topics may be substituted for those listed above according to the needs and interests of the participants.
The Joy of Improvisation II—O.K. So I’ve begun, now what?

BRIEF WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: A further exploration into the wonderful world of Improvisation, including those with traditional classical training, who have begun to improvise but want to do more. Recommended for participants who have two or more years of instruction on their instrument, intermediate level music reading skills, and some experience improvising.

WORKSHOP CONTENT (selected from the following):

  • Review pentatonic, whole tone, and chromatic fragments and scales and fingering.
  • Create an impressionistic piece in the style of Debussy (use ABA or Rondo form).
  • Introduce and create a free improvisation built on Japanese pentatonic scales.
  • Improvise on a Gregorian chant.
  • Learn to transpose modal scales.
  • Complete short modal fragments and extend into longer improvisations.
  • Play “Greensleeves” and harmonize with chords of the Dorian and minor scales.
  • Complete “Camel Music” (ABA form; Aeolian and Ionian Modes).
  • Review I IV I V7 I cadence, modify with substitute chords, and add non-chord tones with various voicings.
  • Harmonize selected folk songs with block chords and keyboard figurations.
  • Review of Blues Scale fingerings and Boogie bass patterns, blues intros, endings, intermediate 12 bar blues.

Joy of Improvisation III—You know you can do it, now go for it!

BRIEF WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: A continuation of workshops I and II for advanced students who have experience with improvisation.

WORKSHOP CONTENT* Creation of short solo and group improvisations selected from the following:

  • Review of basic principals, practical application, and historical antecedents.
  • Create an Indian Raga based on Bhairav That.
  • Create an Avant Guard piece (as “weird” as possible).
  • Improvise variations on a Schubert Waltz.
  • Improvise variations on “Ein Chorale” by Schumann.
  • Improvise a prelude in the style of J. S. Bach, Pachelbel, et al.
  • Introduce figured bass realization and explore embellished accompaniments.
  • Study and play examples of ornamented melodic lines and reprises in music from the Renaissance, Corelli, Bach, Benda, Quantz, Telemann, Mozart, and Chopin.
  • “Trading 8’s over the circle of fifths progression, Pachelbel Canon, and other ground basses.
  • Discuss 7th Chords and the scales which are most appropriate for jazz improvisation.
  • Introduce fingerings for blues, diminished, pentatonic, and whole tone scales.
  • Learn the ii-V-1 progression with different jazz voicings.
  • Create a group improvisation based on ii-V-I in the style of a jazz waltz.
  • Explore intermediate/advanced blues progressions, walking basses, comping, and common “licks” and create a group “Blues” improvisation.
  • Explore and improvise upon selected jazz standards.
  • Improvising through memory slips.

NOTE: Keyboardists are encouraged to bring a second instrument to the workshop for special group improvisations. Please give me advanced information so that appropriate materials can be prepared. While designed primarily for keyboardists, other instrumentalists and vocalists may also participate with the permission of the instructor.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Dr. Bowman at (530) 521-2518 or bowmanpiano at