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Just Play!

There is a devious irony with regard to all creative endeavors. The action of engaging in creative activities is what develops our creative potential. This is as much a point of celebration to those that are on the journey, and a rather large obstacle to some who have yet to start.

I am reminded of this each time I work in a scenario where a student asks me, "what do I play." This is the first bridge to cross as a beginning improviser. We start with nothing, almost like a painter who gets more paint, only as they engage in the activity of painting! There is a leap of faith that we all must take, confident that ideas will come.

I would like to offer some strategies in some upcoming posts for how to get started. Ways that we can cross this bridge and build confidence in some ideas. But first, I think it is beneficial to go back to the beginning of our journey as instrumentalists.

For many, the first few moments on an instrument were full of courageous exploration. Zero fear of judgement, just a hefty blow through the tube and a flourish of fingers. Most beginners start their journey with a passion to explore the instrument, to make any sound they can, and to create all on their own. It isn't until we push method books in front of students, and teach as though the only musicians who get the goodies are the ones who can most accurately interpret of musical symbols, that the inhibition takes hold and grows. That is when exploration diminishes and a very real fear of improvisation grows. I think we can all benefit from a reclamation of that explorative spirit and just play our instruments from time to time.

It is really simple, our creative capacities grow when we engage in creating. We don't need chord charts, or licks, or even a blues scale. What we need is space to just simply play with no rules. We need to play whatever we feel like. Whatever comes out of our instrument. This may be some of the purist improvisation that we can create. It is beautiful in its own state, and where it can lead - is greater still.

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