Great improv theater consists of the improviser’s ability to accept the situations that are thrust upon them by the other players. They will go along with anything to keep the flow alive. Practically the only thing that will ruin the flow is if the players deny anything: shooting down another improviser’s demands or wishes, causing stagnation.

What a great lesson improv theater gives for musicians. The ability to accept the situations that are put upon us is key to great music making. Examples are numerous: it could be that another player offers a unique rhythmic motif that you play with or it could be that you make a mistake in a piano sonata and you work back into the piece fluidly.

Like with improv theater, the only thing we cannot do is stop the flow: to focus only on ourselves when we improvise, to deny the other musicians’ ideas, to freeze up when we make a mistake.

When the flow is accepted there is potential for artistry and humanity. We can’t deny the flow.


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