Improvisation is a vastly underestimated skill

Monday, 13 June, 2011

Improvisation, whether in music, sports, or even acting, often requires a level of skill that few of us realise or appreciate.

That jazz quartet might make their music look easy – the players are just playing – but that ease is an illusion. In reality, those musicians are relying on an intricate set of musical patterns, which allow them to invent beauty in real time. Likewise, that Chris Paul assist might seem like a lucky bounce pass, but it’s actually a by-product of some exquisite perceptual analysis. Instead of appreciating the uncanny quickness of these improv artists – watching in awe as they make something out of nothing before our very eyes – we disparage them as mere performers, unaware of all the work and smarts going on behind the scenes.

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