Sunday, July 4, 2010

Improvisation: More Important Than Ever

Now, more than ever, being a competent and aware improviser is the best grounding I can think of for a joyful and fulfilling life.

The ability to freely improvise is more important now than at any time since the invention of the movable type printing press. The primary issue is no longer how to find information, but what to do with it. Our ability to creatively interact (to improvise) with the information around us is becoming more and more important relative to the ability to store and reproduce that information. Cultural structures (like schools and arts institutions) that once placed the highest value on acquisition (of knowledge, music, media, information, etc.) are being overwhelmed by the new paradigm of nearly instantaneous access to a continual flow of information, a constant barrage of creative input and output.

But the people growing up in this environment are not overwhelmed. There is spontaneous creation and improvisation happening all over the place, and I'm finding that many of my current improvisation students have an intuitive knowledge and understanding of free improvisation that was rare in students of 15 years ago. Improvisation is a bigger part of their life, so they understand improvisational concepts more easily and use them more fluidly.

It really is time for the teaching and practicing of improvisation to come to the forefront of education of all kinds.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Tom, what a beautifully well articulated post. I had not thought of improvisation in the context of changes in our world or the importance of improvisation at this time in history, but your idea makes perfect sense. Thank you for bringing my attention to this.