Any skill is learnable

This is really something I can’t say enough times, both as an improviser and in my day job teaching and conducting music. The idea that talent is inherant and people are either good at something or they’re not is wildly unhelpful and really misleading; nobody is good at anything without a significant amount of practise, no mater how clever and talented they are. Too many people stop themselves from trying new things because they think they’ll be bad at them. If something looks like fun though, why stop yourself? It might turn out to be really entertaining, and with enough practise you might turn out to be fantastic at it.
The great thing about learning improv is that a lot of the skills are just good life skills (supporting other people’s offers, adding to the conversation, being silly, making jokes and puns, speaking confidently in public, connecting with other human beings, telling stories etc). This means that you’ve probably already got quite a few improv skills that you didn’t even know about. Just speaking a language already puts you head and shoulders ahead of somebody picking up a bassoon for the first time. And if you feel like you’re lacking any of these life skills- perhaps you’re shy, or feel uncomfortable with the idea of getting up on stage, or you think you’re bad with words- what better opportunity than improv to practise them? There’s no time like the present.
A lot of the things that really matter in improv (and life) actually take little to no skill; things like showing up reliably and trying your best, for example. Please don’t underestimate how much this can do to improve your game over time, or how much it can do to convince others that you’re competant and professional. Everybody worries about being good enough, even really good and experienced players- that’s just the nature of any creative pursuit. It’s really hard to measure success in a field where you’re making things up as you go along; things like turning up on time and committing fully to your class or rehearsal are easy to do, and you can be 100% certain you’ve done them correctly. That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
I think that with regular practise, anybody can get better at any of these skills, and what’s more I reckon they’ll have fun doing it. Improvisers are basically universally lovely people, in no small part because of the skills they’ve learned through improv. Anybody who is willing to give improv a good try will come out the better for it. Want to see me put my money where my mouth is? Sign up for an upcoming class- fun times guaranteed.

 

Love,
Stephen

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