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Andrew Hodges
Category: Improvisation

Improvisational Worlds

New Horizons for both the Musician and the Non-musician , Trained or Untrained

This short article describes how the potential of music improvisation might offer an effective route for the progressive development of improvisation within a team, class or group and highlights how the relationship between creative and group dynamics can be used to illustrate improvisational stages of development
There are many situations where the way individuals work together in a group is affected by both the dynamic of group relationships and how evaluative or spontaneous the group needs to be. 
Some groups or teams are required to follow instructions (car manufacturers, pizza restaurants, orchestras).   Other groups may need to follow guidelines but be flexible in what they do (teachers, salespeople, jazz bands).  Some situations make more inventive demands where something needs to be improved (a better car, a fresh marketing campaign).  On the other hand there are organisations that see opportunities in developing  the output from "creatives" who need to think the unthinkable.  
By combining the dynamics of creativity and group interaction it is possible to differentiate four group creative spaces:-

1. Rational - Formal            2. Formal - Intuitive         3. Rational - Informal          4. Informal - Intuitive

All of these spaces are important but some are more 'used' than others.  They are not completely separate and distinct; they have a relationship with each other.  Each domain demands a different balance of creativity and formality and each is strengthened by familiarity with the other three. 
You will probably have realised that area 1 is where many people choose to be ('Give me the tools of the job, tell me what to do and I'll do it"). Area 2, you may notice, is the kind of mental space where the skilled professional operates; able to recognise when and how to flexibly apply their skills & abilities.   Area 3 describes the engineer or inventor's mindset needed to perhaps develop new global-warming solutions e.g. to invent new carbon-free modes of transport.   Area 4 is the mindset of the genius, of composers like Mozart and physicists like Einstein (who was known to improvise music on a daily basis).    Area 4 can seem to be anarchic.  It is the domain of the free intuitive. It is about play and fun.  From it can come new original ideas that may be taken back to the skilled craftsman, to the entrepreneur, to the engineer and technician to be turned into something useful, desirable and/or marketable.Areas 3 and 2 are improvisational too but caste in different clothing.  Different styles of music fit areas 3 & 2.   Musically in area 2 you might find yourself working with just the notes of the pentatonic scale and keeping in time with everybody else.    Area 3's music might allow you to play with every sound you can find but only when the director or instructions say that you can. 
Once you've experienced improvisation from areas 2, 3 & 4, when you get back into the safe territory of area 1 something has changed.  Seeing it from the musical point of view, your musicianship has improved.   You may be playing just the musical notes on the page once again but THE MUSIC YOU PERFORM IS ALIVE!  You are playing the piece as if it was being played for the very first time.   At the level of the organisation your team members seem to be happier and more effective.   Managing them seems simpler.

Developing Leadership in Improvisation 
To facilitate the development of creativity requires leadership skills that may be acquired through the experience of improvisation workshops. 
Free intuitive group sound workshops are an extremely powerful way of safely immersing yourself and your group in the different styles of improvisation.  They are of benefit to musical groups and non-musical groups of all shapes and sizes.   You and your group will be transformed by the experience. 
The workshops are easily adaptable to suit the needs of different groups, abilities and ages from the classroom to the professional work-group.   The permutations are inexhaustible.

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