Summer Improv Courses 2015


While I was a student, some of my best memories come from being able to take short courses where I could immerse myself in a topic. These often involved travel and allowed me to work with a new teacher and new instruments. One of my dreams has been to organize a course and invite the teachers that I’ve wanted to work with to come to me. While I won’t get to do that this summer, I would like your feedback in order to plan a workshop for next summer. If you would like to come to Baltimore and the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen for a workshop next summer, please complete my survey here.

Summer 2015

During this summer, there are several different workshops with improvisation instruction. Listed below are the ones that I am aware of. If you know of others, please email me or share them in the comments so that I can add them to the website.

This summer is also when the American Guild of Organists holds regional conventions. I’m sure there will be some improvisation workshops at some of these events, and for the first time NCOI will hold the first rounds at the Charlotte regional.

robinsonMcNeil Robinson

I received word yesterday that McNeil Robinson has passed away. I was very fortunate to have taken some lessons with him while I lived in Albany. While I never had the intensive experience of being one of his students full-time, he was an absolute master that I greatly admired. Sadly, I know of very few recordings of his improvisations, but there is a two-part concert improvisation posted on YouTube here (part 1 and part 2). He will be greatly missed.

Hoping we can all learn to improvise as well as he did,


Recent additions to



Newsletter Issue 37 – 2015 05 11
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Aaron David Miller


Aaron David Miller is Music Director at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN. He earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. His organ teachers include David Craighead, Russell Saunders, David Higgs, Michael Farris, and McNeil Robinson. He also studied composition with Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner.

In 1996, he won the American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation, and in 1998, he won the Bach and Improvisation Prizes at the Calgary International Organ Festival and Competition. His compositions have been performed by the Zurich Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Toledo Symphony, and are are published through Augsburg Fortress, Paraclete Publishing, and Kjos Publishing House.

He is represented by Penny Lorenz Artist Management at


Aaron David Miller plays and improvises on The Pasi Organ

Aaron David Miller – “Joy to the World” – House of Hope Presbyterian, Saint Paul, MN

McNeil Robinson


Concert organist McNeil Robinson has been praised by the international press as one of America’s leading virtuosos especially as an improviser. One of the most prominent musicians in New York City, McNeil Robinson has been organist and choirmaster at Park Avenue Synagogue since 1966 and served as music director and organist for Park Avenue Christian Church (1984–2007). Prior to his appointment at Park Avenue Christian, Robinson led a legendary music program for the Church of St. Mary the Virgin for two decades. Concurrently, he was director of music for the Church of the Holy Family, the parish church of the United Nations (1967–1978), and as director of music at the Trinity Institute, Trinity Church Wall Street (1970–1976). He served as Director of Music and Organist at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church until his deteriorating health forced him to retire. He passed away on May 9, 2015.

A graduate of the Juilliard School, Robinson is now chairman of the organ department of the Manhattan School of Music. His students (such as Justin Bischof and Jason Roberts) have won top awards in national and international organ competitions. He is also active as a conductor and has recorded for a number of commercial record labels including Decca and Musical Heritage Society.

McNeil Robinson – Concert improvisation (Part 1) – Chester Cathedral
McNeil Robinson – Concert improvisation (Part 2) – Chester Cathedral
McNeil Robinson – Improvisation – Grace Church, New York City