To be an Improviser. What does it mean?

To be an Improviser. What does it mean?

If we look in the dictionaries, the meaning of the word Improviser is: “A person who does something differently than everyone else and is constantly improvising”. Also, an improviser is a person capable of adapting quickly to changing conditions, finding unexpected, non-standard solutions of problems.

The definition of improvisation won’t give you much information, because it’s not the beautifully put together words in the dictionary that matter to you, but how to learn to improvise in life, isn’t it? But let us dwell a little longer on the theory.

Types of improvisation

Even though improvisation is perceived as complete freedom of action, it is still been once ordered and limited. Let us consider the criteria into which it is subdivided. Here is the Ferrand systematics, which is based on two points: a given scheme (model) and a spontaneous finding (creativity).

  • Strict improvization. The actions of a musician, a blogger, a dancer, an artist (any creative figure) are constrained in advance by certain rules. For example, the artist comes out and he or she is given the task to reveal the subject in such and such a perspective, with such and such words and intonation;
  • Medium improvisation. The creative freedom of the person in a given tone or theme is fully encouraged, and his or her initiative in any expression is supported;
  • Full improvisation (Fantasizing). Complete freedom of action not tied to any model. That is, the artist or musician can determine the theme / tone himself / herself, play or say what he / she wants, and determine what to do on stage.

What is the difference between improvisers and ordinary people?

According to the famous psychologist Maslow, there are not many real improvisers in society: they make up about 1% of the population. They lead different lifestyles, dress differently, express themselves differently, but they all have some things in common:

  1. A more adequate perception of reality, free from the influence of current needs, stereotypes, prejudices, an interest in the unknown;
  2. Acceptance of oneself and others as they are, absence of artificial, predatory forms of behavior and rejection of such behavior on the part of others;
  3. Spontaneity of expressions, simplicity and naturalness. Adherence to established rituals, traditions and ceremonies, but treating them with a proper sense of humor. This is not automatic, but conscious conformism at the level of external behavior;
  4. Business-oriented mind. Such people are usually preoccupied not with themselves but with their life task. They usually relate their activities to universal values and tend to view them from the perspective of eternity rather than the current moment. Therefore, they are all philosophers to some degree;
  5. A stance of detachment from many events. This helps them to bear troubles relatively calmly and be less susceptible to influences from the outside. They are often prone to loneliness;
  6. Autonomy and independence from the environment. It give you resistance under the influence of frustrating factors;
  7. Freshness of perception: finding each time new in the already known;
  8. Extreme level of experience, characterized by the feeling of disappearance of own self;
  9. A sense of community with humanity at large;
  10. Friendship with other self-actualizing people: a narrow circle of people with whom the relationship is very deep. Absence of displays of hostility in interpersonal interaction;
  11. Democracy in relationships. Willingness to learn from others;
  12. Stable internal moral norms. Sharp sense of good and evil: Improvisator is goal-oriented man, and the means are always subject to them;
  13. “Philosophical” sense of humor. Attitudes with humor toward life in general and toward oneself, but one’s inferiority or adversity is never considered funny.
    Creativity that does not depend on what one does and is evident in all one’s actions;
  14. Critical attitude towards the culture to which they belong: Improvisators choosing the good and rejecting the bad. They feel that they are more representative of humanity as a whole than of one culture.

Being an Improviser. What does it mean?

Improvisation is a special way of life. A bright look, a head held high, a confident step, and absolute confidence in the way. The improviser knows what he wants, but often he doesn’t know how he will get there. He usually doesn’t pay attention to other people’s experiences. He seeks his own. He knows no doubts, for he knows nothing anyway.

The improviser is very hardworking, but from the outside it seems that everything is given to him for nothing. He is as emotional as he is developed. He rejects logic, because he thinks it holds him back from his goal. He admires things that seem unimportant to others.

With this approach, the improviser achieves high results where others do not think of themselves. But he is often not even able to appreciate his result because he moves on. His happiness is in his ignorance. His happiness is not the result, but the process and consequence. He is happy, even though society thinks he is doing something wrong all the time.

However, there is a thin line in this lifestyle. Improvisation and permissiveness, anarchy and democracy should not be confused. A true improviser distinguishes one important detail from the slacker, who denies all standard and social order – a very well-developed self-discipline.

If you want to be a successful improviser, improvisation and discipline must always go hand in hand.

What’s the point of your improvisation if you’re already chaotic and rambling through life? What’s the point if you use improvisation as an excuse for your own absent-mindedness?

Also, improvisation must be of high quality, that is, it must lead to a result that is important to you. In addition to enjoying the process itself, a person must use improvisation and intuition to find the right solution to a problem. For example: change yourself, promote a project, discover new countries and societies, learn a new craft, and, in the end, become a new person.

The true improviser does not justify his spontaneous behavior by his ignorance of the subject. The improviser knows the old ways, but he is no longer interested in them, or he sees that they are ineffective. Then he begins to look for new ones. But even he searches beautifully, because he is sure of himself and remains himself. His rhythm is already set. And the inner rhythm is self-discipline. One without the other is impossible. 

To be an improviser means to have a double responsibility for result. For example, a classical piece of music is easier to create, you can just learn it by heart. You can’t learn improvisation; you have to be a practitioner. And you have to know your target, your possibilites, your rhythm – where you need to start and where you need to stop.

Improvisation requires a relentless search for new ways of behaving in your profession. It requires mastering a host of additional skills, seemingly unnecessary in your field. But an inquisitive mind, the courage to act without seeing the result in advance, and a healthy, flexible and passionate body are what a physicist, restaurateur or poet needs if he intends to live the most useful life possible.

Every one of us is an improviser at heart. It’s just that some people use their imagination in their activities or job, while others do not. All work is creative (improvisational in nature) if it is done сonsciously and with interest. But it becomes routine and mechanical if you have no interest in it and do the same thing every day.

That’s why, whatever you do, you shouldn’t put yourself “in the box”. If you do your work just for the money, without using ALL the capabilities of your mind, it is the same as removing the 4 gears from your car. Sooner or later your engine will overheat or stall, and your car will go backwards instead of forwards.


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