ZenMan Improvisations is a teaching concept geared toward students of composition and music technology. Students of participating classes create improvisational concepts to be performed in a concert at the end of the project.

Over a period of four to six weeks, students and their teacher(s) meet with the performer Ulrich Maiß in video conferences to discuss artistic and technical issues in regular intervals. The project then cumulates in an intense three to four day period during which the pieces are being tweaked and rehearsed for a concert on the last day.

The pragmatic approach towards composition and rehearsal is one of the exciting aspects of this project, both for the composers and the performer.

By eliminating the term "composition" and by anchoring the whole project in an impro-visational environment, spontaneity and

intuition play a leading role in the performance of the pieces.

In 2005 Ulrich Maiß asked twelve artists to create improvisational concepts for cello with or without electronics. These concepts included paintings and stories as well as MaxMSP patches and actual compositions; collectively these works became the first iteration of the ZenMan Improvisations. The works were premiered in September 2005 at two concerts in Germany (Berlin and Brandenburg), since then several of the pieces have been performed internationally.