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"Play is the highest form of research." 

                             -- Albert Einstein




A workshop presented in an           approachable or enjoyable way. 

A workshop that is more “play” than “work.” 

Current playshops include:

“Music for Everyone”

“Free Improvisation for Self Expression”

“Developing Musicianship through Free Improvisation”

“Moment to Moment Music Making: Bypassing the Critical Mind”

“Team Building and Creating Community with Rhythm and Sound”

“Learning Large Ensemble Skills through Group Improvisation"

"Jump and the Net Will Appear"

“Improvising Chamber Music”

. . . and more!


Playshops/residencies can range from 1 hour to several days, and are for players of all ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds,

from “beginners” to professionals. 

No improvisation experience necessary!

Please contact me for more details. 

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What Happens
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  • A playful experience with music

  • The discovery that everyone is musical!

  • Full acceptance: “No Wrong Notes”

  • Beginning from nothing, without a plan

  • Deep listening

  • Expressing what we feel moment to moment through sound

  • Social sensitivity/Dynamic group interaction

  • Teambuilding and creating community

  • Attentive silence/Mindful awareness

  • Energizing our own unique voice

  • The physical pulse: finding your authentic groove

  • Bypassing the critical mind

  • Accessing childlike spontaneity 

  • Joyful, collaborative, and creative group experiences

  • Experiencing a musical community

  • Expressing yourself fully with sound

  • Fearless making music from the inside out

  • Creating music spontaneously 

  • Finding your song, groove, voice, creativity


  • Significant increase of self expression and communication skills

  • Increased listening and sensitivity

  • More classroom management skills

  • Acceptance into a community

  • Enhanced mindfulness

  • Appreciation of your own and others’ uniqueness

  • Creative teaching strategies

  • A stronger internal pulse

  • Inspired leadership through nonverbal communication

  • More musicianship and ensemble skills  

  • Greater appreciation of multi-cultural music/differences

  • The feeling of being heard

  • Less social and musical anxiety

  • More personal confidence to take risks

  • More social sensitivity 

What is Free Improvisation?



Musical improvisation is the creative activity of immediate "in the moment" composition. It combines performance, self-expression, and the spontaneous response to other musicians.  


Free improvisation is a genre of music, developed in the U.S. and Europe in the mid to late 1960’s, largely as an outgrowth of free jazz and modern classical music. It is without any rules or limits beyond the intentions and intuition of the musicians involved.

This practice is centered on mutual close listening and is an opportunity to develop collaborative skills in a non-judgmental context. It is a mindful openness to the creative moment and its infinite possibilities. 


The rationale behind facilitating free improvisation is to help players spontaneously express what they are feeling in the moment—without a plan, based on the belief that everyone is musical. This is a very different experience from reproducing what a particular composer wanted by playing from the printed page, and one that both students and professional musicians often shy away from. There is a need, especially for non-jazz orientated students, to experience the essential art of music improvisation. Fortunately, this creative need is increasingly being recognized. Improvisation, now recommended to be taught in the public schools as part of the National Standards in the Arts, is also included in many state-mandated Standards and required by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Why Facilitate Improvisation?
Why I Do This


Teaching, for me, is the sharing of joy and freedom through music, with the belief that everyone is inherently musical. I love facilitating the process of people breaking free from the expectations of the society around them--a society in which children stop singing and people stop dancing early in life, and do not play together as a community. Free improvisation is about finding your own voice, your own pulse and your unique way of expressing yourself. Many people have given up their natural birthright as musicians to professionals and have lost their own sense of creativity. I love seeing this return to both the musician and to those who think they are not musical through improvisation, which is a profoundly human and natural way of self-expression. It gives me great joy to see people recover their long-lost musical child. Drawing on three decades of experience both facilitating free improvisation sessions and conducting orchestras I endeavor to create a sense of community and a friendly, spontaneous, inspiring environment for participants to explore this unique approach. 

Past Playshops


Playshops given for diverse groups in the following settings:

University Schools of Music 


High Schools 

Middle Schools 

Elementary Schools

Youth Orchestras


Summer Programs

Chamber Music Programs

Governor's Schools 

Leadership Trainings

Teacher Inservice Days 

(CTLEs available)  

New Horizons

Continuing Education

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A large ensemble dedicated to the performance of free improvisation whose members play a variety of diverse instruments, with or without a facilitator/conductor.



What people say


"I was particularly impressed at the performance of his student improvisation ensemble at the International Society for Improvised Music meeting in New York City a few years back. I am hard pressed to think of another colleague who bridges these areas and could only marvel about the string players in the improvisation ensemble and what an example David was setting for them—here they are engaging in free improvisation with the same faculty member who conducts them in the Eroica, and also plays their instrument. That he moves fluidly between these realms only adds to the impact: if this is not the future of music studies, I don’t know what is.”

-- Ed Sarath

Professor of Music

Department of Jazz and 

Contemporary Improvisation

University of Michigan School of Music

“David’s work with improvisation is first rate. He has a wonderful way of getting students to improvise that are not used to doing so. In addition, he is able to tie in the improvisation work to the orchestra setting, inspiring the students to take more risks on a musical level, to be more creative and spontaneous, and to phrase in a more connected manner.”

-- Jonathan Handman

Co-Founder, Stringendo Orchestra School

Music Director, Woodstock Symphony Orchestra

Orchestra Director, Arlington Public Schools, NY

“David exemplifies that rare talent of being able to be a gifted classical player and a wonderful improvisor. His leadership skills are exhilarating in that his love of sharing the beauty of music with all humans is first and foremost in his teaching and leading skills. It is rare to find such a gifted human being who possesses so many ideal qualities of musicianship, scholarship, and curiosity for life.”

-- David Darling

Co-Founder, Music for People

Grammy Award winning cellist

“David is passionate about the work that he shares with others. As a facilitator, he creates a safe and nurturing environment that invites even the most timid students into the discovery of their own authentic music. One of the essential aspects of improvisation is the readiness to provide whatever the moment requires, and David is able to model this beautifully during his facilitation. While leading a group, David takes the time to listen deeply to players and to coach them toward reaching their highest possible musical potential.”

-- Mary Knysh

Program Director, Music for People

Founder, Rhythmic Connections

"Dr. Rudge's Free Improvisation class was a unique and refreshing oasis in the midst of my college curriculum. Inspiring, spontaneous, and incredibly encouraging, Dr. Rudge gently guided us and created the ideal balance of structure and freedom as we explored this new way of expressing ourselves and communicating with sound. The music education profession often discusses the immense importance of improvisation, but it is extremely rare to have the opportunity to actually learn this art from an amazing improviser, classically trained musician, teacher and person. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have had the chance to learn from him.”

-- Dr. Essena Setaro

Member, Greenville, Asheville, Augusta,

Charleston Symphonies, Acting Associate

Concertmaster and Teaching Artist, 

Hilton Head Symphony

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