Return to Child PDF


Return to Child – Music for People’s Guide to Improvising Music and Authentic Group Leadership – Philosophy, Games and Techniques Developed by David Darling, Bonnie Insull, Mary Knysh and Participants at Music for People Workshops – Written and Compiled by James Oshinsky



Return to Child – Music for People’s Guide to Improvising Music and Authentic Group Leadership
For more than twenty years, Music for People has been teaching Music Educators, Music Therapists, and Musicians of all styles about the joys of making personal improvised music. The collected wisdom of David Darling, Bonnie Insull, Mary Knysh and other experienced group leaders has been compiled by Jim Oshinsky and edited into a new expanded 10th edition.

“Return to Child is one of the most important books on music anyone can own.” – Dr. Eric Edberg, DePauw University

“Every musician and teacher will savor the power and ease of music making with Return to Child.” – Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect

Part One – Musicianship Skills

  • An inside look at Music for People’s approach
  • Basic Concepts – Quality, not Quantity
  • What to Practice Most for soloing and accompaniment
  • A New Definition of Musicality – Be a Master of What You Can Control
  • Warming Up, Soloing, and Improvising with Others
  • Exploring Intervals
  • Exploring Rhythm
  • Exploring Scales and Patterns
  • Skills for Strings
  • Skills for Piano
  • Improvising in a variety of styles (Jazz, Blues, Gospel)
  • Learning via Recording

The first section of Return to Child brings the reader into the world of Music for People improvisation workshops, illustrating the techniques and games that have proven effective for making free and powerful solos, and for being a sensitive and supportive partner in ensembles.

“Return to Child is full of activities that are clear, concise, and easy to conceptualize.” – Julie Lyonn Lieberman, author of Planet Musician See Additional reviews of Return to Child.

For more information about Music for People, visit the Music for People Web Site.

Part Two – Leadership Skills

  • Each One, Teach One
  • Hosting a Musical Gathering
  • Developing as a Leader of Improvisation Groups
  • Developing Session Skills, Organization Skills, and Communication Skills
  • Developing Personal Qualities – Full Spectrum Living
  • The Master Teacher Examples – Shadowing David and the Return of the Shadow
  • Are You Ready for Anything? MfP leaders share their experiences
  • The Finite and the Infinite – a four-part interview with David Darling
  • A Glossary of Group Facilitation Concepts
  • In-depth analysis of the basic MfP techniques
  • The Music for People Teaching Studio
  • Embedded Metaphors – Life Lessons from MfP classes

The second section of the book is about leading groups from a humanistic, inclusive point of view. Music is the birthright of everyone, and all combinations of experienced and inexperienced players can make music together. Return to Child tells how. It provides a glossary of group leading terms, with illustrations from common experiences that leaders encounter. It includes suggestions for leaders to follow on their paths to self-development, and an interview with Music for People’s Artistic Director, David Darling, that presents his philosophy of teaching.

“Return to Child is packed with a lifetime of personal learning, growth, and leadership skills.” – Arthur Hull, author of Drum Circle Spirit

“Return to Child contains a wonderful set of recipes for musical teamwork, and for finding the right balance between structure and spontaneity in free improvisation. Bravo!” – Stephen Nachmanovitch, author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

Part Three – Appendices

  • Watching Teachers “Return to Child” – behind the scenes at an MfP workshop
  • Developing School Residency Programs
  • A symbol system for notating workshop events, developed in cooperation withVillage Music Circles
  • A comprehensive new index
  • Bibliography
  • About Music for People
  • About Music for People Co-Founders
  • History ofReturn to Child

The final section of the book gives examples of how people are using Music for People techniques to transform how music is taught in our schools and presented in our communities.

“Return to Child shows how to practice improvisation individually and collectively, how to teach such practice, and how to encourage it to flourish in the world.” – W.A. Mathieu, author of The Listening Book and Harmonic Experience

“Music for People is a community of players with a vision of holistic music education. Return to Child takes this vision of Music for Everyone into the world.” – Dr. David Rudge, SUNY Fredonia