"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.” 



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. 

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Why teach free improvisation? The rationale behind teaching free improvisation is to help players spontaneously express what they are feeling in the moment—without a plan. 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 virtually lost art of music improvisation. Fortunately, this 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 (NASM).

Improvisation frees up the performer enormously, relieving him/her of the necessity of conforming to a narrow historical style of playing, and significantly reducing performance anxiety. It gives the future music educator useful, innovative and necessary tools to tap into their students’ own creativity, and love of sound. It gives the future music therapist more techniques to use for emotional release, and healing with sound. This work has also been life-changing for those without musical training, as it powerfully deals with listening, open communication, establishing a community and building a team. This is why it is so successful in the corporate setting and for leadership training. 



What happens at a playshop. This is about making music from the inside out, without fear. We explore ways of expressing through sound what we feel moment to moment. In a non-judgmental environment, participants create music spontaneously and playfully, while developing the personal confidence to take risks and have one's voice heard. These playshops are accessible to players of all ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds, from “non musicians” to professionals. Resembling many social and work situations, this experience rests on three pillars - solo, support and silence. 


Some of our goals will be to develop the personal confidence to take risks while making one's voice heard; the social sensitivity to support others; and the listening skills to know when to make a contribution and when the group is best served by attentive silence.


We will work with our voices, our instruments, drums, and other World Music instruments. In these playshops, every combination of people and instruments can come together and make music. Ensembles of all sizes and kinds will be created.

Some of the themes and takeaways of these playshops:


  • Everyone is musical!

  • Full acceptance: “No Wrong Notes”

  • Dynamic increase in self expression and communication skills

  • Beginning from nothing, without a plan

  • Deep listening

  • Social sensitivity/Dynamic group interaction/Classroom management

  • Teambuilding and creating community

  • Attentive silence/Mindful awareness

  • Energizing our own unique voice

  • The physical pulse: finding your authentic groove

  • Creative teaching strategies

  • Bypassing the critical mind

  • Accessing childlike spontaneity 

  • Enhancing inspired leadership through nonverbal communication

  • Developing musicianship and ensemble skills  

  • Enhanced appreciation of multi-cultural music/differences

  • Joyful, collaborative and creative group experiences

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Playshops/residencies can range from 1 hour to several days. 


“Jump and the Net will Appear” is an introductory 1-day playshop.


2-day playshops can lead to the creation of an “improvisatra” ensemble.

3-day residencies can lead to a sharing experience with an audience. 


Please contact me for more details. 





A large ensemble dedicated to the performance of free improvisation whose members play a variety of diverse instruments,

with or without a facilitator/conductor.



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 the “non” musician 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.


My playshops are based on the needs of the participants and are modified according to ages and experience levels. Playshop themes vary, depending on participants. “Music Improvisation for Self -Expression” is transformative for anyone, “Musicianship through Free Improvisation” is especially effective for musicians. Together we will focus on the self acceptance and acceptance of others necessary for the true freedom to be creative without judgement. As I guide participants, we will spend most of our time actively creating, listening deeply, and communicating with sound. I draw on three decades of experience both facilitating free improvisation sessions and conducting orchestras to create a sense of community and a friendly, spontaneous, and inspiring environment for participants to explore this unique approach. 




I have given playshops 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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Can you make one authentic sound?

Inside the Improvistra



"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