Improvisation is an ongoing practice of community-formation, on and off campus.

KU AUMI-InterArts, along with our partners, Ranita Wilks, Independence Inc., and the amazing people at the Sound/Vision Studio, Lawrence Public Library, a great group of KU students from Music Therapy and American Studies, and many fantastic community improvisers have been coming together to create improvised music since October 2015, using a musical instrument (the AUMI) that adapts to every body and that requires no musical experience to play. Sessions continue to be held in the state-of-the-art recording studio in the Lawrence Public Library, managed by Jim Barnes, who then pops the music files into the Sound/Vision SoundCloud, where they can still be enjoyed.

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4 People recording at the event in a studio

Past Events

Past Events

Jesse Stewart, international perf​ormer, composer, artist, and founder of We Are All Musicians (organization dedicated to inclusive community music making) will facilitate all-ability music workshops, culminating in two community performances using the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) during the week of August 7th-12th. His artist residency is part of an international symposium and made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Commons at KU, as well as support from community partners Independence, Inc. and the Lawrence Public Library Sound + Vision Studio, the School of Music and Departments of American Studies, Dance, and Theater.

Registration is now closed for performers, but the performances and several other events will be open to the public.

August 9, 2017, 7:00 pm: Jesse Stewart Percussion Concert in Duet with the Audio Reader Garden

August 11, 2017 5:30 pm: Improvising Inclusive Communities Performance with Jesse Stewart and the AUMI Workshop Ensemble, The Commons, KU

August 12, 2017, 9:30-11:45 am: Symposium Sessions (open to the public), Hall Center for the the Humanities (900 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS). [9:30-10:15Elizabeth Boresow, Kara Caine, Abbey Dvorak – AUMI and Music Therapy; 10:15-11:00 am: Jesse Stewart – We Are All Musicians: Reflections on Community Music Workshops and Performances Involving the AUMI; 11:00-11:45 am; one – AUMI: Dreaming Across Borders 

August 12, 2017, 3:30 pm: Improvising Inclusive Communities Performance with Jesse Stewart and the AUMI Workshop Ensemble

 For more information, contact:


The public was invited to attend a free performance utilizing the AUMI and other mixed-ability improvisation tools and media on October 30, 2013 at the KU Commons, Spooner Hall, at the University of Kansas. "(Un)Rolling the Boulder: Improvising New Communities" was the culmination of a devised improvisation directed by Nicole Hodges Persley, Assistant Professor in the KU Theater Department, involving 20 participants from Lawrence, Kansas City, and other towns and cities in the area, who answered the call for performers for "Four Rehearsals and a Performance: No Experience Necessary!" 

Audience Participation

The approximately 80 audience members who attended the event were invited to choose where to enjoy the performance. Some lined the walls, and others selected seating from chairs that had been strewn throughout the space, facing different directions. Some clumps of seating had spaces between chairs that were wide enough for a wheelchair. Scraps of paper were on the chairs with text (some printed in Braille) with sayings such as "Ho, ho, hey, hey, ADA is here to stay!" and "If we were only spiritual beings, why would we have bodies?" Part of the improvisational nature of this performance was that the ensemble had collaboratively made all of the decisions pertaining to the show, from its title, to the selection of text, images, and sound files used in the program, to where the audience would be. The ensemble had wanted the audience to experience the performance interspersed throughout a performance space that presumed patrons of all abilities. They also decided they did not what the audience to know who was in the show. The audience was also invited to participate--and many did.

AUMI to Conga Line to Zumba

The performance began when several members of the ensemble began to play a musical instrument called the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, a free software download from the Deep Listening Institute, that turns any computer with a camera into a musical instrument that adapts to all bodies. The performers played it while dancing around a table. A steady pulse emitted from a computer at the other end of the room, operated by Music Professor, composer Kip Haaheim, and several performers began to clap and dance. Audience members and the ensemble joined in, dancing Zumba moves led by JoAnne Fluke, Director of Groovability, Kansas City, and a member of the ensemble. 

The AUMI workshop in Lawrence, KS, entitled “Improvising Across Abilities: A Workshop and Jam Session Featuring the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument,” took place on Friday, September 28, and Saturday, September 29, 2012. Friday’s workshop was organized in conjunction with Independence, Inc., a local organization that provides advocacy, peer support, training, transportation, and community education for and by people with disabilities in the Lawrence area. Their beautiful facility in Lawrence provided space to hold a two-hour demonstration of the AUMI and jam session, followed by further individual instruction. Leaf and Jackie led a lively and diverse group of about 30 participants, which included Independence, Inc. consumers and staff, KU students and faculty, educators, and Lawrence community members in improvising with the AUMI and providing percussion accompaniment. See the Lawrence Journal World video coverage of this event.

Saturday’s workshop was held on KU’s campus. Once again, Leaf and Jackie led the demonstration and jam session, with additional time for individual instruction afterwards. The 46 participants on this day included dancers, musicians, computer scientists, graduate and undergraduate students, music therapists from KU’s music therapy program and the surrounding area, and members of AbleHawks, KU’s advocacy group for students with disabilities and allies.

The workshop was made possible by a seed grant from the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas (KU), received by four faculty members at KU—Sherrie Tucker in American Studies, Michelle Heffner Hayes in Dance, Nicole Hodges Persley in Theatre, and Kip Haaheim in Music, and Pauline Oliveros at the Deep Listening Institute and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Co-sponsors included Independence, IncAble Hawks and Allies; the KU Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access; the KU American Studies Department; the KU Department of Dance; the KU Department of Theatre; and KU Libraries