Improv Instruction

Nelson Velazquez has been involved in improvisational theatre for the last 12 years. He is currently the Artistic Director of Salsation Theatre Company, a 17 year old Latino theatre company specializing in sketch and improv comedy. He currently serves as head musical director for Los Improviachis, an improvised musical mariachi band. He has trained and performed at Second City Training Center, The Annoyance Theatre, and ComedySportz Chicago and has performed with various groups across the country. He’s also a former associate producer for the Chicago Improv Festival. Nelson is also the founder and current head of the improv program at Crown Point Community Theatre.  He's taught workshops across the country including The Trill Comedy Festival and The Grand Rapids Improv Festival.


The following workshops below are available.  If you're interested in booking a workshop, please contact us using the contact form.

SCENE INTO SONG – TAKING YOUR SINGPROV TO THE NEXT LEVEL 
OK. You can sing. You can improvise. You can even improvise a song or two. Now it’s time to learn how to marry your scene work to support your newly minted song so the story you’re telling before, during, and after the song is cohesive and strong. We explore the fundamental building blocks of doing long-form improvised musicals here!

Preferred Skill Level of Potential Students: Intermediate
Workshop Student Limit: 12
Length of Workshop: 3 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:
  • Physical & Vocal Warm Up 
  • Learn advanced MI song concepts Learn fundamental song structures (Verses, Chorus) 
  • Learn more advanced song structures (I Wish, Love/HateDuet, Fugues, Variety numbers, Revolution Numbers, etc.) 
  • (Re)Visiting exploring/heightening regular scene work .
  • Work on establishing meaning relationships at top of the scene. 
  •  Quickly determining the who/what/where/why of the scene. 
  • Chase the “what” of the scene to such a point song is required. 
Special Instructions: A musical director will be required for this.


BE THE HOST(ESS) WITH THE MOST(ESS)
People paid good money and time to be at your show.  Give them the best experience through effective, concise, and powerful hosting.  Whether you have to emcee an entire show or just go out and get a suggestion, learn the skills necessary to effectively open a show, run games, get good suggestions, and support your fellow actors through great hosting!

Preferred Skill Level of Students: Beginner– Advanced
Workshop Student Limit: 12 Length of Workshop: 2 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:
  • Discussion of role of an emcee.
  • Explore power dynamics between audience & performer.
  • Work on endless committment to engaging the audience.
  • Learn how to "warm up" the crowd.
  • Explore getting suggestions (steering the audience to good suggestions, rejecting/ignoring bad ones).
  • Using techniques when the audience is not receptive to the team/host.
  • Incorporating "crowd work" into the show.
  • Learn how breaking the 4th wall consistently can actually have the audience feel they're a part of the show.
  • Learn how to interview an audience member to get suggestions
  • Identify and use strong editing of short-form games as a host.
 Special Instructions: None


HAVE GUITAR. WILL TRAVEL
Have you ever felt you've worked really hard with your partners to explore and heighten your scene and you feel like you have nowhere to go? Guess what? YOU DO! Go into song and let the laughs continue! This workshop will introduce the fundamentals of musical improv and how you can use basic musical direction & performance to take your scenes to a new level!

Preferred Skill Level of Students: Intermediate – Advanced
Workshop Student Limit: 12 Length of Workshop: 3 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:
  • Physical Warm Up Vocal Technique overview
  • Discuss how to vocalize with the body
  • Perform vocalization warm-ups. Basic "singprov" overview
  • Performing rhyming exercises
  • Learn basic rhyming song structures
  • Perform scenes into song Learn advanced MI concepts
  • Learn fundamental song structures (Verses, Chorus)
  • Learn basic chord progressions/styles (12 bar blues, I-IV-V songs, reggae)
 Special Instructions: None


TALKING TABOO – PLAYING WITH RACE, GENDER, AND OTHER NO-NOS
Ever wonder what it’d be like to play characters, relationships, and situations that you’ve always wanted to but others told you not to? Have you shied away from exploring new creativity because of how you may be perceived? This workshop is to discuss and play with the taboos of improv such as race, gender, religion, politics, sex, mortality, and language among many others to break down the barriers to unlock realism and depth to your scene work based on every day human experience.

Preferred Skill Level of Students: Intermediate – Advanced
Workshop Student Limit: 12
Length of Workshop: 2-3 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:

  • Discussion of taboos in students’ personal lives.
  • Discussion of taboos in improv.
  • Develop characters based on personal opinion regarding a given taboo.
  • Incorporate improvised monologues.
  • Incorporate real-life characters to develop new ones that embody a given taboo, e.g., the former Southern belle who allows a subtext of “southern pride” to support her dialogue. Understand justification for these characters, i.e., when it’s “right” to use them. Explore dramatic improvisation, i.e. “not chase the funny”, when exploring these issues. 
Special Instructions: None


BEYOND HAMILTON: A MUSICAL IMPROV WORKSHOP
Hip-hop has influenced everything from the radio to the TV to the big screen.  It has also become part of the theatre scene as well!  Learn the basics of what it takes to do improvised hip-hop from the streetz on up!  We learn the fundamentals of building your rhyme catalog to putting together a cypher to going from scene into hip-hop in one dope workshop!

Preferred Skill Level of Students: Beginner – Advanced
Workshop Student Limit: 12
Length of Workshop: 3-4 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:
  • Develop a sense of presentation & commitment to the performance of rap
  • Work on building a rhyming catalog and techniques to keep it fresh and current
  • Explore different rhyme flows and tips & tricvks that can be used when freestyle rhyming
  • Practice give and take of focus within a hip-hop based cypher/song
  • Play short-form games and long-form scenes that include rap
  • Use supportive techniques for the back-line to use during a show
  • Take a look at existing "hip-hoperas" and show how they use these techniques
Special Instructions: Would like access to a sound system to connect devices with pre-recorded music to play if possible.


PLAY ME OFF, JOHNNY!
Musical directors - they're like unicorns - you always hear about them but can never capture them for your show!  Why not become your own unicorn and learn the secrets behind the techniques of musical direction? 

Preferred Skill Level of Students: Beginner
Workshop Student Limit: 12
Length of Workshop: 3-4 hrs.
Acceptable payment arrangements: 50/50 split, Flat Fee, Per Student
Workshop Outline:
  • Discuss the role of a musical director (MD)
  • Explore the art of underscoring scenes
  • Explore different genres of music and how to emulate them.
  • Work on supporting common musical improv structured songs (choruses, tagline numbers, variety numbers, revolution numbers,rap battles, etc.)
  • Improvising with mutiple musicians (if applicable)
Special Instructions: Students should bring their own instruments - prferable acoustic instruments or keyboards.


Testimonials

Here a list of testimonials from various workshops, classes, and coaching sessions performed over the years. I'm beyond thrilled to have these kind words said about my instruction :)

I've studied at all of big three (Annoyance, Second City, and iO) and the best time I've had has been performing under Nelson's direction. He makes the experience fun and educational. Nelson's unique take on improv makes me confident that it is impossible not to up your improv game and enjoy doing it. I give extremely high marks to Nelson as an instructor and human being. - RS (Makeshift Up)

Working with Nelson, he has thought me incredible improv skills that range from character work to family friendly comedy. He has created an improv world that made it enjoyable for me, yet still a learning experience. I would take two classes of his that were the same, just because I know that I would walk away with a different experience and more knowledge than the latter. I recommend Nelson Velazquez as an Improv coach to all of my improvising peers, because I know they would all walk away better, regardless of their improv experience. - HB (Teenprov student)I'm comfortable with scripted acting and directing, but improv had always been on my "bucket list." My only previous experience with improv was having it happen around me while I was too shy to jump in. In his class, Nelson Velazquez made me feel safe, relaxed, and part of the group, but then challenged me in an enjoyable way. I often recommend Nelson to friends who want to try their hand at improv. He's an excellent teacher who is great with newbies, but also can instruct at much more advanced levels. The man is loaded with positive energy! - LR (Improv Fundamentals student)

You did a great job! Thank you. I can't wait to apply some of the techniques you gave us in my presentations in the coming year. - MF (NIPSCO corporate training)



So grateful I decided to do that musical improv workshop with you. I've been able to perform musical improv twice since then and nothing is more fun! - SR (Grand Rapid Improv Festival workshop attendee)

Nelson is exactly what you would want from a coach: passionate, supportive, and honest. I feel like I have grown in my skills and more importantly in my confidence as a performer because of Nelson. - KW (The Tony Stanzas)

I participated in an Improv for beginners class with Nelson Velazquez. I loved it & hope to return to another class soon.
Nelson is very energetic & loves his job. He has great passion for performing Improv & this shows in every skit he does with his "newbie" classmates.
You can tell when some people are not truly engaged in their work.
These types of people merely "go through the motions" when executing their job duties. Nelson Velazquez is definitely not one of those lack a daisical persons. He is fun & seeks to bring out the best in his students!!
- DK (Improv Fundamentals student)

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