Teaching Improvisation in the Classroom & Ensemble Using the iPad

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Fall 2018 Information

Registration Open Now!
Registration for all fall online courses closes on September 7, 2018 at
12:00 p.m. CDT.
Fall online courses begin September 17, 2018 and conclude on December 9, 2018.
Tuition Promotion Schedule:
August 3 – August 28, 2018: $995 (includes $25 savings)
August 29 – December 9, 2018: $1,020 (full tuition)
Promotional pricing applies only for tuition paid in full and excludes single credit courses and Band Instrument Repair.
The cost per-credit for the 2018-2019 acedemic year is $340.
*Band Instrument Repair is excluded from this cost schedule

This course is designed for elementary and secondary general music teachers and ensemble directors (vocal, strings, band and jazz ensemble) who want to enhance improvisation skills in their students and who have access to an iPad (iPad 2 or later, iPad Air, iPad Mini or iPad Pro) for use in the classroom/rehearsal as well as teachers who are working in a 1:1 iPad classroom. Participants will use GarageBand for iOS, iReal Pro and SmartMusic to create custom improvisation materials and discover existing resources, as well as how to share these materials with students via YouTube, Dropbox and/or Google Drive. Participants will learn the basic mechanics of improvising and the essential music theory elements needed to teach improvisation including modal improvisation, the blues and simplifying chord progressions. No previous experience with improvisation is required.



  • Teach core improvisational concepts (modal improvisation, blues improvisation and simplifying a chord progression) to students in the general music classroom or ensemble rehearsal.

  • Select appropriate repertoire to teach improvisational concepts.

  • Create custom accompaniments using iReal Pro and GarageBand for iOS.

  • Integrate Smart and Touch instruments (GarageBand for iOS) in student performance to teach improvisational concepts.

  • Discover and use existing exercises, repertoire and methods available in SmartMusic.

  • Share materials with students using YouTube, Dropbox and/or Google Drive.

  • Create an implementation plan and budget to integrate improvisation into your curriculum.


Improvisation is an important part of musical development in general music students as well as ensemble students of every age. This course will teach you basic improvisation pedagogy and guide you through using technology as a tool to foster improvisation in students. Participants will develop materials/lessons to implement improvisation in their classroom/ensemble.


Instructor: Michael Fein

Mike_FeinMichael Fein earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in jazz saxophone performance from Rowan University. He released his debut jazz album, Four Flights Up, in April 2005 (available on iTunes). Fein has presented numerous sessions at music and technology conferences including the 2005 National Education Computing Conference and the 2009 and 2010 TI:ME National Conferences. He was awarded the TI:ME Teacher of the Year in 2007. In 2010, Fein co-authored Making Music with GarageBand and Mixcraft, a music production curriculum text, and recently authored Teaching Music Improvisation with Technology, published in February 2017. Fein currently teaches graduate music technology courses at the University of the Arts, and music technology electives and jazz ensemble at Haverford High School.

Teaching Improvisation in the Classroom & Ensemble Using the iPad


Instructor: Michael Fein

3 Graduate Credits
Full Tuition: $1,020, due in full with registration    
Course Code: 7998
Chat Sessions:
No chat sessions required.
Required material(s):
1. iPad2 or later, iPad Air, iPad Mini or iPad Pro and the ability to connect the iPad to a
Mac or Windows computer.
2. Apps:
a. GarageBand for iOS (free)
b. iReal Pro ($12.99)
c. Classic SmartMusic (free; 30-day subscription provided during the last 3 weeks of the course)
d. Google Drive (free)
e. Dropbox (free)
3. There are no required texts for this course.
Optional Materials
Teaching Music Improvisation with Technology by Michael Fein (Oxford University Press, ISBN10: 019062826X ; ISBN13: 978-0190628260)
Software/hardware requirements for Mac & Windows users:
Internet access is required.


MECA Online Course Details
VanderCook Online is powered by Schoology ( Through this learning management system, you'll be able to interact directly with your instructor, students in your classes, and members of the greater VanderCook Online community.

Spring 2020 MECA courses officially begin on Monday, February 3. Soon after you register, you'll be added as a new Schoology user. Be on the lookout for an email from Schoology with log-in instructions. Once you are given credentials, simply visit to login. On the morning of February 3, you'll have access to your classroom and course material.

Some courses have specific online chat meeting times (please see course descriptions), while others have a flexible meeting schedule. You can expect all courses to meet together in a live online chat. If a live meeting time doesn’t work, you can work with your instructor to make other arrangements.

You’ll have the opportunity to work at your own pace each week while completing assignments and posting responses to discussion questions. You’ll constantly be interacting with your instructor and classmates online, and working through new material each week. We know how crazy school schedules can get, so our instructors try to make everything as flexible as possible!

Online grades will be reported by mid-May. If you are in need of a transcript please visit the online transcript request page. If you are in need a quick turn around time for your transcript please submit the transcript request to the registrar prior to the end of your course(s).


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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