for classical musicians

Welcome to my improvisation website!

My name is Jonathan Ayerst and I'm a professional organist, pianist, and improviser. From a background training in interpretive performance (Wells Cathedral School later, the Royal Academy of Music, London) I also learnt to improvise (at the HMDK Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Stuttgart, with Jürgen Essl) using classical music as models. At the same time I made a psychological study of my learning process as the subject of my PhD - please see the Psychology page for more on this.

What does it mean to be a psychological improviser? Psychology means a study of thinking and this is really useful for improvising, because instead of just focusing on the music (is it good, bad, correct, etc?) we can study the background processes which result in improvisation, affect our performance, our feelings of creativity or agency. Ultimately, by studying our thoughts while improvising we can make improvising more expressive, have a more rewarding learning experience and feel more in control over the performance.

Feel free to use the exercises and templates; also psychological questionnaires.

If you'd like to contact me personally please use this form