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Monday, January 20, 2014

Improvisation...my love as well as my doom?

For those of you who don't know, I recently joined an ensemble called Jazz Combo.  This is a very small group of individuals who read music for the main theme of a jazz tune and then improvise off of the chord structure.  I decided to join this almost on the spur of the moment because I discovered that I really loved improvising.  However, I think that it can better be described as classical improvisation that is up my alley as after being in class for ten minutes I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about jazz improv and was getting killed by the three saxophonists I was creating music with.  Not exactly the best feeling in the world.

I walked out of class that day completely overwhelmed and almost in tears from embarrassment.

The next class period was better; I felt a little more confident in one solo but that was short lived.  I still walked out of class unsure of why I was there and unwilling to look my saxophone friends in the eyes.

Later, however, in a conversation with my roommate later, I came to a realization.  When you look at my MBTI results, I am an ENFJ by two points one judging scales.  That doesn't mean I'm a judgmental person, although I know I have my moments where I can be.  Instead, according to the MBTI tests, judgers are those who like to have schedules and everything organized while perceivers are more of the "go with the flow" kind of people.  When I took the test for my freshman class last year, I had only two points on the judging scale, indicating to me that I could really go either way.

It's the same way with music.  I love having structure; sheet music to follow and learn but at the same time I like having the freedom to do what I want with the music.  That's what I've found jazz music is.  You follow the main melody for a while and then you break off and play whatever you want within that chord or scales relating to the chord.  Maybe this is why I have always enjoyed listening to jazz music.

Improvisation is going to help me grow so much as a musician, but it's going to take a lot of work on my part to become comfortable with all of the details with jazz music.  Sometimes I wonder why I got myself into this, but then I remember my love for jazz and improv and that I will really benefit from it.  So I shall press on!

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