• Empowered Music Students

    Creativity and Improvisation in Ensembles (Part 2 of 3)

    Matthew Shaffer is middle school orchestra director in State College, PA. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College. While Matt is primarily an orchestral cellist, he also played in a band in high school. That band experience, jamming with friends, drove him towards incorporating creative activities with his students. Matt is also a co-author of the book, The Creative String Orchestra, which describes ways orchestra teachers can incorporate more creativity in their classes. In this interview, Matt talks about how he does this with his own students.  The “Pop Project” Matt’s “Pop Project” was…

  • Empowered Music Students

    Creativity and Improvisation in Ensembles (Part 1 of 3)

    Marissa Guarriello is a 6th-12th grade orchestra teacher in the Penn Ridge School District, in Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as a co-author of the book, The Creative String Orchestra. Marissa is an advocate for creativity in the orchestra classroom, even though that’s not how she got her start in music! In this interview, Marissa talks about how she made this transition and why she feels it has been so beneficial to her students.  Marissa wasn’t always comfortable improvising with her students, or even on her own. She was  trained to be a classical performer, which is a very product-based experience. However, upon entering the classroom, Marissa realized that most of…