Wooden Cities | contemporary music ensemble


Guerilla Tactics: Greece Olympia High School

Wooden Cities participates in a full-day residency with the Greece Olympia Jazz Band, including multiple improvisation workshops with different age groups, and culminating in a joint performance with the jazz band featuring John Zorn's Cobra.

Wooden Cities
Program description
Free improvisation and game pieces are increasingly present in the contemporary music world, but such music can often seem unapproachable to less experienced performers. This workshop introduces students to a number of strategies for engaging in new improvisational performance practices. Offering a unique hands-on experience for student performers, Wooden Cities' musicians (all skilled improvisers) will play alongside students and introduce them to free improv techniques via an immersive performative experience. Centered around an introduction to John Zorn's 1984 game piece Cobra, students will learn the rules to this famous piece while also internalizing common free improv strategies, expanding their musicianship through exposure to the many possibilities (and challenges) such music offers with regard to listening, balance, form, and musical multi-tasking. Workshop will culminate in a performance of Cobra in which students will perform alongside the ensemble.
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"This experience was a great success at Greece Olympia. It allowed the students to step outside the typical box of their usual music-making and explore and express in new ways. It allowed students to have freedom from fear, and to take more chances as improvising musicians. The members of the group were consummate professionals, and put themselves on the same level as the kids, making them feel comfortable and cool. My students loved it, and they'll most certainly be back again."

—Aaron Staebell, band director, Greece Olympia High School

"I really enjoyed Cobra and it as a fun way to discover how capable I am at improv. I think now I'm a stronger soloist."

"It was inspiring. It made me want to expand my percussion skills to mallets as well."

"Wooden Cities was a good experience for me as a young, inexperienced musician."

—Greece Olympia students