What do improv and jamming have in common?
Really a lot more than one might originally assume. Improv is kind of the jamming of the acting world, there’s a lot of players involved playing off of each other’s skills rather than following a set script. That’s why during your next jamming sessions you might want to incorporate some lessons from improv even if you’ve never done it before.
Don’t Say No
Even if you’ve never ever done anything even remotely related to improv, chances are you’ve heard is all about saying yes. That is, when an actor gets some information, they aren’t supposed to reject it, they have to say yes and then add something to it. They call it “yes and”. Jammers can learn from this. When another player comes up with some crazy chords or plays something that’s out of the ordinary, don’t be intimidated. Say yes and build on what’s being proposed. It’s the fastest ways of creating new and exciting experiments
Be a Team Player
We live in a world that tends to put a lot of emphasis on “creating your own opportunities”, but sometimes it’s best to go with the flow even if it means not being the center of attention. Improv is all about the group. There are not solo rock stars. Great scenes are often achieved when all members are involved and working towards making the group shine rather than taking to self-aggrandizing attitudes. The same can be said for jamming sessions. This doesn’t mean you all have to be playing the same thing for 30 minutes straight. There are some moments in which some instruments take the front row and shine more than others, but the idea is to let this happen organically. There’s no need to constantly look for the spotlight. If you play for the team you can ease back and take the lead if the opportunity comes up.
Embrace the Mundane
Though actors are expected to be imaginative and create insane scenarios, most of the time audiences are happy to just see them do an everyday thing. Sometimes the mundane works better than fireworks. In music, this means that you don’t always have to play a super complicated and long solo to show off your skills, especially not during a jamming session. As a musician, playing a new piece or discovering a weird sound can be exciting and rewarding, but now that your audience or fellow players might not always be as interested as you are in that kind of stuff. Don’t be afraid to play it safe every now and then.
One of the key things to a successful improv session is not playing off of what you think the other actor is going to do, instead, you should be aware of what they actually are doing and play off of that. So, don’t play based on what you think the others will do. Get out of your head and get in the present. Listen to what they’re actually doing and react to the reality, not your expectations.
Just Do It!
The most important lesson you could ever learn from improv is to just do instead of think. Forget about your insecurities or feeling shy or whatever. Just get out there and do your best, remember you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to sell your act and more often than not, that’s all about having the right attitude and showing off your energy.