In the early 1980s, I was part of the small handful of musicians asked by Maurice Fleuret, then director of Music at the Ministry of Culture, to think about the introduction of improvisation in the institution of conservatories, to begin with Paris. I had then to my credit the experience of many internships, the professional practice of jazz, classical interpretation, improvisation and composition, and I wrote L'Improvisation musicale , which became a reference on the subject.
We were excited to really revolutionize the teaching of music. Unfortunately, things have not been so easy.
Little by little, the "jazz and improvised music" departments were created in many institutions, but not related to classical instrumental disciplines. The improvisation was present, but as a "little more", nothing more. The example given by the Conservatoire de Liège, directed by Henri Pousseur, had shown us that it was possible to go much further, so that improvisation, present in all the music of the world and which had irrigated music from its beginnings until the beginning of the 20th century, comes back in force in the musical formation.
It was not so in France. At the CNSMDP, little by little other classes were opened (generative improvisation with Alain Savouret, then much later improvisation with the keyboard with Jean-François Zygel and Thierry Escaich), but they remained without relation with the "principal" classes of instrument nor with the composition classes. But to be effective, this reintroduction of improvised practice in educational institutions should have touched the heart: the pianists should work as much as the deciphering, and apprentice composers would be well advised to submit to it, if only for physically understand the instrumental gesture. But everything changes, and it is not said that in this area it is not possible to advance further. Provided we invent bridges, revive old practices, create a new pedagogy. And first, no doubt, to look a little bit at the history of this fascinating discipline.