Teaching and Improvisation

Teaching and Improvisation

Virtual Symposium Using Creativity Pedagogy


Victor L. Wooten, Five Time Grammy Award Winning Bass Player
Author of The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music


Teaching in these times of the unforeseen and the unforeseeable necessitates the skills and abilities of making use of the context, feeling the moment, knowing how to make use of whatever is at-hand. There is, perhaps, no better time than this unpredicted moment of COVID 19, Black Lives Matter national activities, economic downturn, and higher education upheaval than to be part of a cohort of teachers, artists, and creative people discussing the necessity of improvisation.  What would it mean to incorporate improvisation as a pedagogical and spiritual practice into your teaching and learning life? Who better to assist with honing creativity, spontaneity, and rhythm than five-time Grammy award winning bass guitar player Victor Wooten?  We will be reading Victor’s book The Music Lesson as well as his soon to be released second title: Spirit of Music. We will learn from Victor know-how about ways of freeing one’s self from a script and letting go to the power of the Spirit in any moment, and most especially, in the teaching moment. This cohort is convened by invitation only.


Through the use of creativity pedagogy, the overarching goal of the symposium will be to engage in sustained reflection with a musician known for improvisational skills to get a deeper sense of the teaching life in terms of imagination, performance, artistry, and creativity.  We will do this through:

  • Reflecting mindfully on the teacher as improvisor
  • Opening-up our imaginations in conversation about the art, task, burden and joy of teaching
  • Hearing one another’s stories and considering the formation and deformation of teachers who struggle to be and become creative
  • Exploring the ways musicians participate as band members, band leaders, composers and creative engineers and making parallels with the teaching life
  • Exploring the embodied wisdom and know-how affiliated with the work and world of jazz and the accompanying skills, crafts, and knowledges of that world
  • Exploring the significance of a “life as a student of creativity,” and the necessary relationships for a deep spirituality when attempting to sustain a vocational life in the institutional settings of higher education

Dates and Times

Cohort will convene via Zoom with Victor Wooten on the following Wednesdays, 3:00 to 5:00 PM Eastern Time:

Wednesday, October 7, 3:00 to 5:00 PM Eastern
Wednesday, November 4, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, December 2, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, January 6, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, February 3, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, March 3, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, April 21, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern
Wednesday, May 19, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern


Esther E. Acolatse, University of Toronto
Wonhee Anne Joh, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Tim Lake*, Wabash College/The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion
Boyung Lee, Iliff School of Theology
Tat-siong Benny Liew, College of the Holy Cross
AnneMarie Mingo, Pennsylvania State University
Paul O. Myhre*, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion
Nathan Myrick, Mercer University – Macon
Stephen G. Ray, Chicago Theological Seminary
Leopoldo A. Sánchez, Concordia Seminary (MO)
Mitzi J. Smith, Columbia Theological Seminary
Marcell Silva Steuernagel, Perkins School of Theology, SMU
Lisa L. Thompson, Vanderbilt University, The Divinity School
Katherine Turpin, Iliff School of Theology
Ralph Basui Watkins, Columbia Theological Seminary
Nancy Lynne Westfield*, The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion

*Symposium staff

Wabash Center