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Dr. John Mortensen playing a Steinway piano

Number 1 on Amazon: Improvisation Book Hits the Right Note

by Nicole Hackett, Student Public Relations Writer

Dr. John MortensenDr. John Mortensen, professor of piano at Cedarville University, didn’t expect to be No. 1 when writing “The Pianist's Guide to Historic Improvisation,” but when it debuted it quickly became Amazon’s No. 1 new release in both the piano and music instruction categories.

Mortensen’s passion is teaching students the art of improvisation, especially improvisation of specific historic styles such as Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. He desires that his students learn to play the piano less dependent on printed music sheets.

“Improvisation in music, as in language, is the ultimate test of fluency,” explained Mortensen. “If I have to read from a script in order to have a conversation with you, I am not fluent in the language. Improvisation is mastery.”

Mortensen has been teaching these ideas around the world through his performance and teaching tours or his online school of historic improvisation, the Improv Planet ( His new book allowed him another avenue to continue educating people in this art form.

— John Mortensen

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Bachelor of Arts in Music program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about Cedarville University, visit

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