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The Jazz Cat on Improvisation

Today it is our extreme pleasure to welcome Director of Music Education and Associate Professor  at George Mason University: Dr. Charles “Chuck” Ciorba.

In this episode, we delve into the tricky aspects of improvisation and we ask the difficult questions. Where do we find the music? What does “Taking 4’s” mean??? How do I get everyone to solo in a class of 62? and What if I’m not good at jazz??? Dr. Ciorba will light a fire in you to incorporate jazz and improvisation into your own curriculum!

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Ciorba over this past year and can attest to his passion for music education and music teacher education, his ability to light a fire under ANYONE, and his enthusiasm for jazz education.  I am extremely grateful for his mentorship and friendship and I know you will gain so much from listening to the Jazz Cat on Improvisation!

Here are a few highlights from our interview today!

  1. Know your theory

  2. Pick appropriate music

  3. For students who might be afraid to solo, let them play at the same time as other students

  4. Know your students and give them music at which they can excel

  5. Improvise EVERY DAY, have your students record themselves and self-assess

  6. Listen to the great jazz musicians if you want to be great

  7. Challenge the students WITHIN their framework

  8. JUST DO IT!!!

When asked “what if the students are better than the teacher at jazz?” Dr. Ciorba vehemently said “So what! You can learn from them.” Exactly the kind of teacher we want all of our music ed majors to become!

Useful Links:

Dr. Ciorba –

P.S. – On the second listen, I realized I said that I completed my Masters degree at Mason. I have no idea why I said this! I completed my PhD at Mason, not my Masters! Just to be clear 🙂

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