+44 (0) 20 3051 0080
[email protected]

Creative Strings London - 30th & 31st January 2018


Calling all Violinists, Violin Teachers, Young Violinists, Professional Performers, Adult Learners, Violin Students...

Transform your creative violin playing skills with CHRISTIAN HOWES, world renowned Jazz Violinist

Tonal Improvisation - Contemporary Styles - Arranging & Composition - Internalised Harmony - Amplification & Effects


ViolinSchool is delighted to announce that world renowned Jazz violinist CHRISTIAN HOWES is returning to London in January 2018, for a CREATIVE STRINGS residency featuring events, concerts and top-class tuition:

Schedule & Locations

WHAT's happening, WHERE it's happening, and WHEN!

CHANGE OF DATE: The Introduction to Improvisation Class was originally scheduled for Monday 29th ot Thurs 25th... this has now moved to the morning of Tuesday 30th. We are very sorry for any disappointment!

The class will also be repeated on the morning of Tuesday 30th, so that Boot Camp participants can conveniently attend.

Venue addresses will be confirmed to you by email a few days in advance of your first session.


Call us 7 days a week on 020 3051 0080 or email [email protected]

Which session is right for me?

If you're unsure about which tuition is right for you, then you should almost certainly sign up for the Introduction to Improvisation class.

But to be sure, don't hesitate to call or email us and we'll be very happy to advise.

Live Show @ Brasserie Zedel/Crazy Coqs

Creative Strings 
Boot Camp

Introduction to Improvisation

Tuesday 30th January
10am to 1pm

Learn and practise the first principles of Improvisation in this essential introductory class, that's suitable for everyone!

For ALL ages, experience levels, and string instruments

£49 (£39 VS Members)

Tues 30th (from 2pm) & Weds 31st (all day) of January

A comprehensive 2-day intensive for advanced players, covering high-level topics including contemporary styles and harmony.

For Pro Players, Teachers and Advanced Students 

£499 (£399 VS Members)
Tuesday 30th January

The master at work! Enjoy Christian's superb Solo show at Brasserie Zedel/Crazy Coqs, in London's Piccadilly.

Tickets now available directly from Zedel Box Office!

Tickets £25

Christian's last visit to London in 2016 had an incredible impact on everyone who came, and we know this visit is going to be a really special event.

Places are limited, so click below to lock in your reservaton today!


Check out the Vibe!

Here's Christian Howes introducing the original Creative Strings Workshop and Festival in Columbus, Ohio - where it's been running for 15 years!

After 15 successful years, Christian is now taking the extraordinary energy of CREATIVE STRINGS ACADEMY all around the world. We're thrilled to be hosting him in London to continue spreading the word about his amazing mission. Come and join us!


Here is the provisional schedule (subject to change):

Tuesday 30th January (Kings Cross - daytime)

10am to 1pm: Introduction to Improvisation
Open Class for Everyone

N.B. Christian may alter the sequence or content of the Boot Camp's advertised program as required, according to the needs of participants.

2pm to 4pm - Boot Camp Session 1: 
Tonal Improvisation, Arranging and Composition

4.30pm to 6.30pm - Boot Camp Session 2:
Free Improvisation and Non-Tonal Composition; Modal Composition

9pm: Christian Howes - Solo Show at Brasserie Zedel / Crazy Coqs (London Piccadilly)

Wednesday 31st January (Kings Cross)

10am to 1pm - Boot Camp Session 3:
Contemporary Styles / The Blues

2pm to 4pm - Boot Camp Session 4:
Amplified strings, Looping and Effects

4pm to 6pm - Boot Camp Session 5:
Internalizing Harmony

EVENING: Boot Camp Open Jam / Final Event

The Creative Strings Curriculum!

Here's what you'll be able to do after attending Creative Strings London 2018!

For All String Players who are new to improvisation (or who'd like to learn how to teach it). Adult Learners, Young Violinists, Students, Teachers, Advanced and Pro Players are all welcome!

By the end of the Creative Strings Evening, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the key principles of how improvisation works
  • Practise and internalise groove and rhythm
  • Take part in basic improvisation sessions, with confidence!
  • Broaden your musical vocabulary into different styles of music
  • Practise improvisation
  • Organise your creative practice
  • ... plus there'll be LOADS of playing, improvising, and time for Q&A with Christian Howes to answer any questions you may have about creative improvisation!


Tuesday 30th January, 10am - 1pm

A Framework for Approaching Improvisation (The 'Why'!)  

Or, as Christian likes to put it, "how not to suck!". After some warm ups, we'll begin by developing a reliable framework for how we approach improvisation. We'll discover:  

1) how NOT to freak out or freeze up when you find yourself in a new musical situation (without printed notes!)

2) how NOT to sound horrible... what NOT to do! practical tips on attending a jam session3) how to contribute in a meaningful way towards a band's sound - what your role is  

'Converting' from Classical?  

If you've learned the violin in a traditional 'classical' way, you might not have played much improvised music... or even avoided it altogether! 

But not only is improv NOT scary, you'll find that your existing classical training can help you to improvise fluently STRAIGHT AWAY. We'll learn how!

Improvisation Techniques (The 'How'!) 

We'll learn ten core techniques that you can use to establish a 'toolbox' of skills. 

Combine these core techniques with the variables, and you'll be able to approach any unknown improvisation situation... with clarity and confidence!

4 Variables of Improvisation (The 'What'!)

We'll learn the four crucial things you can CHANGE when improvising, to bring interest and variety to your improvisation

Chord Stacks (Let's Play!!!)

Using Christian's superb chord stacks, you'll be able to improvise 'at sight' by following a template, and then adapting the way you want to - using all the technques that we've already learned. 

We'll finish the session by playing loads of improv, based around the harmonies of Pachelbel's Canon and Corelli's La Folia!

A special program for advanced players who'd like to master improvisation and creative performance skills: For Pro Performers, Teachers, Students and Advanced Players 

By the end of this fast-paced, 2-day Bootcamp, you'll be able to do everything in the Creative Strings Evening, plus...

  • Express yourself creatively on the violin
  • Develop your musical voice in new, creative directions
  • Internalise harmony, voice-leading, scales, modes, and apply them
  • Become fluent in contemporary styles so you can jam with musicians outside of classical music, create YouTube covers, and more.
  • Be able to use amplification and effects.
  • Get gigs and take your creative musical career to the next level.
  • Teachers: Gain age-appropriate sequences to share with students
  • Increase your skills and confidence in improvisation, composition, and arranging music.

Tuesday 30th & Wednesday 31st January

Session 1: Tonal Improvisation, Arranging, and Composition

Through a series of easy playing and reading exercises, participants will learn how to create functional melodies over chord progressions. 

Melodic improvisation and composition are demystified as we discover how to easily construct melodies, bass lines, and accompaniment parts.

Throughout the session, participants will improvise over chord progressions in bluegrass, reggae, waltz, rock, latin, and classical styles.

This session teaches composition, voice leading, harmony, arranging, and improvisation through an integrated and comprehensive approach.


~ DAY 1 ~

Session 2: Free Improvisation and Non-Tonal Composition 

Participants will compose in small groups using “composition games.” During this interactive session you will feel empowered by the end of the session to perform your compositions and apply what you learned in your daily practice or teaching.  

Conducted Group Improvisation  

Using cue cards and a system of hand signals, Christian conducts a large ensemble in group improvisation. Engage in call and response, looping, “musical wrestling”, vamps, modal grooves, occasional musical chaos, with a multitude of stylistic applications. Students can also conduct the improvising ensemble.  

Conduction is a popular practice among contemporary ensembles worldwide, including small groups and even orchestras. Christian’s approach to conduction borrows from a variety of sources and caters to the skill set of classically trained string players.  

Modal approach to improvisation: Advanced and/or Intermediate. How to apply a modal approach as an improviser, arranger, or composer.  

Session 3: Contemporary Styles & The Blues Ahhh... the blues! In this session we'll uncover the secrets of the blues, including...

  1. Blues as a historical and cultural phenomenon
  2. As a literary form
  3. As a musical form – Harmonically/Melodically/Rhythmically, in many iterations
  4. As an intangible (and invisible to many) musical element which shows up in many styles of American music (this is arguably tied to #2 above, i.e., culture)
  5. The practice of combining the major and minor pentatonic and/or blues scales
  6. Examining how bass lines and inner voice patterns show up in common iterations of 12 bar blues, and various common rhythmic/dance forms.

~ DAY 2 ~

Session 5: Internalizing Harmony on the Violin, Viola, and Cello (advanced only)  

An exhaustive approach to internalizing harmony on bowed string instruments. 

Including voice leading arpeggios, scales, and double stops and triple stops. Internalizing chord progressions via bass line, inner voices, and sequential patterns.  

Session 4: Amplified strings, Looping and Effects In The Classroom, Practice Room, And Stage 

Using loop pedals and effects with amplified string instruments is cool! 

It also allows teachers to easily engage students in group exercises related to both traditional and eclectic styles. 

This session presents an overview of how to use loops and effects as a tool for teaching, practice, and performance. 

Gain insights into the basics of looping technology, how to create loops, common issues with looping, and how to go beyond the basics to get your students excited about creative practice.

Music Business – (For professionals and college students)  

The final day of the Bootcamp will include an optional Mini Music Biz Mastermind - based on the same coaching program Christian has used to help many professional musicians attract more projects, gigs, students, and clients. Check out testimonials for Christian's music biz coaching here!  

One of the most common reasons for freelance musicians not achieving the career they want is a lack of fundamental sales and marketing skills. In this valuable session, Christian will help you to clarify you career goals, so you can see exactly how your artistic and financial aims can fit together.  

Then, he'll give you a highly practical, working knowledge of the real-world sales and marketing skills and tools that are essential for successful workng musicians in today's music industry.  

Finally, Christian will help you to apply those skills in the service of your goals... so that you'll be right on track for what you want to do next in your musical career!  

You'll leave with a transformative blueprint for your career... and with a massive dose of motivation and inspiration!


Since 2011, performer, educator and composer, Christian Howes was voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll (“Rising Stars/Violin”), named among the top three jazz violinists in the JazzTimes critics poll, and nominated for Violinist of the Year by the Jazz Journalist Association.  

He received the Residency Partner Award through Chamber Music America for outreach programs in schools, earned a USArtists grant through the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and was invited by the U.S. State department for two tours to visit Ukraine and Montenegro.  

The Minneapolis Tribune called Christian “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz.” His recent release on Resonance Records, “Southern Exposure” earned recognition in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Downbeat, Jazz Times, as well as a six-night run at Lincoln Center in April, 2013.  

Howes is the founder of “Creative Strings“, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to expand music education through the creation of online curriculum, an annual summer conference, and dozens of visits to schools annually teaching improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects. He endorses Yamaha violins and D’Addario strings.


See Christian Howes in Action!

If you haven't already checked out Christian's Youtube Channel, you should! Here are some of our favourite videos that will give you a taste of his insightful and inspiring teaching style...

+44 (0) 20 3051 0080 ~ [email protected]