Thanks Nadia for your reply. What I found particularly interesting in your message was that composition can arise from improvisation and also that students from less musical backgrounds perhaps would find it easier to improvise. It is actually unclear what I mean by improvisation; I wanted the term to be loosely applied to encourage any responses, but I feel that improvisation is not just free playing but guided and informed musicianship. For example, ornamentation is an important part of stylised improvisation during the baroque peroid and of course long before, when the harp would have followed an oral tradition in certain areas such as clarsach playing countries.
So perhaps you could tell me what kind of themes are explored when your students improvise? Do you encourage variations on a theme or free improvising or jazz or extended techniques?
I teach celtic harp, and I use improvisation alot, especially with children. I find it helps them to relax and enjoy the instrument more. As a framework for the improvisations I use stories and games where they get to create a musical motive for a character, etc. I am writing a book about this for harp teachers which includes worksheets, and I hope this will be finished some time in the next ten years! When I practice myself, improvisation plays a very big role, and 90 percent of what I play are my own compositions, which always come out of improvisation.