What is improvisation?

  • Improvisation is ‘instant music’
  • In the exam the examiner will give you a musical idea – or ‘stimulus’ to look at and listen to. You then create a short piece of music from this idea.
  • There are three musical ideas to choose from:

Stylistic stimulus
Motivic stimulus
Harmonic stimulus

  • Try them all and see which one is best for you.


Choose one of these starting points

 Stylistic stimulus

  • a piece of music with a chord pattern
  • the examiner will accompany you on the lower part of the piano

Motivic stimulus

  • a two bar melody

Harmonic stimulus

  • a four bar chord sequence

With each stimulus:

  • The examiner will play it twice
  • You will have 30 seconds to prepare your improvisation
  • You can then perform your improvisation


What makes a good improvisation?

This is part of a performance exam so you need to show how well you can play your instrument.

So a good improvisation will:

  • be fluent and without hesitations
  • be confident
  • be the correct length
  • show an understanding of the key
  • show some creativity
  • use the stimulus in some way
  • come to a natural end


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