In the Community Service Exchange guitar lesson program, we've got five kids taking lessons, and resulting contributions have been forwarded to the Thanksgiving basket program at the Riverview West Florissant Development Corporation. So far, so good.
On the guitar teaching side, one of the methods I support is ear playing and improvisation from the very beginning with new students. Attempting to improvise musically is a strange feeling for someone who's never done it before. It's not natural. You're trying to make music out of your intuition. You're trying to create something, and there's no chance to erase or start over. If what you're playing sounds bad, your natural inclination is to stop.
What you play is out there. So we've got to get the kids to think differently. First, they have to just do it. We can teach them technique and scales, chord progressions and how to play them with good form and tone. But to take those basics and then turn them into intuitively ear-played improvisation is rising to a new level as a musician.
Yesterday on KWMU, there was a program about Blues music and the tradition of "call and response". In the style, one person sings out a line, and then a chorus sings in reply.
I've mentored young musicians about improvisation to think in terms of phrasing. To try to link together scale phrases in rhythmic fashion creating musical passages. Maybe the notion of "call and response" would work even better. Whether in terms of connecting to a chord progression, or another melodic phrase.
We'll give it a try.