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Off the Page (Score + mp3s)

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Nine Improvisations for String Players and other Adventurous People
Commissioned by cellist and teacher Sera Smolen

Nine improvisations for adventurous musicians of all ages and abilities, drawing from blues, swing, funk, Latin and world folk styles.

Each song in this approachable collection includes the following resources:

  • Musical score
  • Practice strategies
  • Improvising scales
  • Listening track (audio)
  • Practice track (audio)

This scale-based approach to improvisation includes major, minor and blues scales, as well as scales from Japan and Eastern Europe. The listening tracks feature improvised performances by professional jazz, folk and classical musicians, while the practice tracks allow students to develop their own improvisational language.

In developing this engaging collection, composer Elizabeth Alexander worked closely with Sera Smolen, an active cello teacher, improvisation coach and Suzuki clinician. Each improvisation was workshopped extensively by Smolen, who has taught them in lessons, group classes, and music festivals across North America.

  • Available in all string, woodwind and brass keys, along with chord symbols and piano accompaniment
  • Choose either printed sheet music/MP3s or licensed PDF/MP3s

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Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Delivery Method Price Quantity
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2017-20%20-%20A%20Riff%20in%20the%20Family.mp3 Piano Accompaniment - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-00 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2017-20%20-%20A%20Riff%20in%20the%20Family.mp3 Piano Accompaniment - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-00D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%207%20%26%208%20-%20PlayGround.mp3 Violin - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-01 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%207%20%26%208%20-%20PlayGround.mp3 Violin - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-01D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2015%20%26%2016%20-%20Maybe%20this%20is%20all%20a%20dream.mp3 Viola - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-02Dt Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2015%20%26%2016%20-%20Maybe%20this%20is%20all%20a%20dream.mp3 Viola - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-02t Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2017-20%20-%20A%20Riff%20in%20the%20Family.mp3 Cello - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-03 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2017-20%20-%20A%20Riff%20in%20the%20Family.mp3 Cello - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-03D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%201%20%26%202%20-%20Wiggy%20Dog%20Boy%20Blues.mp3 Double Bass - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-04 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%201%20%26%202%20-%20Wiggy%20Dog%20Boy%20Blues.mp3 Double Bass - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-04D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%205%20%26%206%20-%20Vermicelli.mp3 Treble Clef in C (flute, piano, vibraphone, etc.) - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-05 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%205%20%26%206%20-%20Vermicelli.mp3 Treble Clef in C (flute, piano, vibraphone, etc.) - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-05D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%209%20%26%2010%20-%20Train%20of%20Thought.mp3 Bass Clef in C (trombone, bassoon, etc.) - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-06 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%209%20%26%2010%20-%20Train%20of%20Thought.mp3 Bass Clef in C (trombone, bassoon, etc.) - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-06D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2013%20%26%2014%20-%20Inner%20Hallways.mp3 Treble Clef in B♭ (clarinet, tenor sax, trumpet, etc) - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-07 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%2013%20%26%2014%20-%20Inner%20Hallways.mp3 Treble Clef in B♭ (clarinet, tenor sax, trumpet, etc) - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-07D Licensed PDF
$15.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%205%20%26%206%20-%20Vermicelli.mp3 Treble Clef in E♭ (alto sax, etc.) - Sheet Music & MP3
Variable Various SEA-054-08 Sheet Music
$25.00
https://www.seafarerpress.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/Off%20the%20Page%20-%20Tracks%205%20%26%206%20-%20Vermicelli.mp3 Treble Clef in E♭ (alto sax, etc.) - Licensed PDF & MP3s
Variable Various SEA-054-08D Licensed PDF
$15.00
Reviews and Responses: 

Off the Page is a unique and much needed collection for a new era of education. It crosses the bridge between classical traditions and multiple styles, giving students the opportunity for self expression….while developing skills they will need in a new age of musicianship! Thoughtfully created and carefully tested, it will stand the test of time!” - Alice Kanack, Composer and Author of the Creative Ability Development series

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 “Off the Page [is] an innovative and intuitive approach to learning music…with musicians at all levels – young children, collegiate music majors, adult learners, and professionals seeking to unlock new expressive creative paths... [This has] given us all an opportunity to learn…by rote, by ear, through imitation in a fun, groove oriented social-music atmosphere of jamming with friends and family.” - Nicholas Walker, Professor at Ithaca College School of Music and President of International Society of Bassists

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"I am very excited about Off the Page, and am looking forward to using it with my flute and recorder students. It is a wonderfully well thought out collection. The variety of styles, combination of playing by ear and reading music, and opportunities to modulate into different keys give me as a teacher many opportunities to introduce improvisation into lessons at many different levels. And its fun! When I first starting playing with the backing tracks, I found it hard to stop, I was enjoying myself so much!” - Kathleen Schoen, Program Director of Edmonton Suzuki Flute and Recorder Society

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 “Off the Page is an excellent method for helping young students learn to improvise across many styles, modalities, and meters. All students should have the opportunity to improvise, and this method provides clear strategies, examples, and exciting play-a-long tracks that will work for students of every instrument.” - Matthew Clauhs, Professor of Instrumental Music Education at Ithaca College School of Music

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 “Off the Page invites cellists to step easily into new musical experiences feeling comfortable and having fun. The tunes are interesting and memorable, and the instructions for diving into play with them are clear and straightforward. Even if you think you don’t know what you’re doing as an improvisor in these styles you will quickly find yourself playing along and catching on. Teachers will discover in Off the Page a musically renewing resource for themselves that students will relish. The musical reward is immediate.” - Lisa Liske-Doorandish, Professor of Cello at Hollins University and Roanoke College

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 “[Our] workshop at the New Directions Cello Festival was the perfect experience for players of different levels. Using varied popular musical styles, familiar and natural patterns create the foundation for making something new. Also, it was seriously fun! I recommend Off the Page to all musicians interested in improvisation and harmony.” - Elizabeth Simkin, Professor of Cello at Ithaca College School of Music

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 “I highly recommend this work. For those who are eager to learn to improvise, this method is very approachable and provides everything that you need to make improvising part of your regular practice. This fills a much needed void in the literature for teachers wanting to include improvising in their students' training.” - Laura Campbell, Professor of Flute at Colgate University and Wells College

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The Off the Page collection is the essential step to get students comfortable improvising in non-classical styles of music. All the tracks are accessible to classically-trained students, while pushing them gently out of their comfort zone into engaging musical worlds. Each track comes pre-recorded and with a given "chart" or musical score, so students become adept at connecting their eyes, ears and inner ears, to come up with original improvisations. I wholeheartedly recommend this ingenious collection! - Laura Nerenberg, Suzuki Violin Teacher and Teacher Trainer for Creative Ability Development

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“This work provides a great treasure trove of opportunities to learn about many approaches to improvisation.” - Chris White, Founder and Director of the New Directions Cello Festival, and Author of Jazz Cello: A Book and CD Method

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"Off The Page, a collaboration between educator Sera Smolen and composer Elizabeth Alexander, helps bridge the gap between the improvising and non-improvising worlds in a highly musical and intuitive way. Chock full of resources for the beginning improviser, Off The Page aims to make improvising an enjoyable and courageous experience for even the most beginning string player (“and other adventurous people” as the title states).

“Listen, Play, Improvise” serves as the mantra for the book, encouraging students to listen to the accompanying audio before digging in. Through rote learning of tunes and discussion of chord-scale relationships, students are guided through practical steps to begin improvising meaningfully. Following a linear progression of difficulty, accessible forms like the blues are first used before progressing to tunes with more difficult forms and harmonies. These include modal tunes, tunes with jazz chord changes, and tunes in less standard string keys. Off The Page offers valuable insight to the dimensions of improvising beyond just dealing with harmony.

Each tune comes with individualized tips to help the student best handle learning and improvising over that particular tune. As the book progresses, one thing I particularly favor is the use of common lingo from the improvising world. Words like “head”, “trading fours”, “stop time”, and “chart” in introduced early on to help acquaint the student with improvising traditions. Also included are procedural directions while improvising with a group: what to do when you get to the end of a form, how to interact with other musicians, etc. These are great insights!

I have to emphasize my appreciation for the accompanying audio. It is top-notch. The diverse instrumentation with high level improvising skills helps to break any notion of what a “classical” and “jazz” instrument is. If the authors produce more additions to the series, I would love to see transcriptions of the improvised solos, and even encouragement for curious students to play along with the recorded solos by ear. It’d be a way to capture an even wider audience who could benefit from this great resource. Off The Page is appropriate for students with or without a teacher. The pedagogy is clear, thoughtful, innovative, and accounts for many nuances dealing with the tradition of improvising. Though the aim is not to create jazz musicians per se, the authors found an extremely effective way to bridge the gap between the two worlds in a fun and resourceful way!" - Danny Zieman, Review in International Society of Bassists (Volume 41, No. 1)

Performers: 

Binghamton Cello Festival (Binghamton, NY)
Ithaca College Suzuki Institute (Ithaca, NY)
New Directions Cello Festival (Storres, CT)
New England Suzuki Institute (Lewiston, ME)
Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute (Waterloo, Ontario CANADA)

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