Music Improv for the Terrified – workshop March 26th

What happens when you sit down with musicians you’ve never played with before, and you don’t know any of the same songs, but you want to make music together anyway?  How do you get started?

Do you freeze?

What happens when you’re jamming with a group of musicians, and they ask you to take a solo? Do you freeze?

Is this a situation you would never, ever, never allow yourself to be in, because you would freeze?

We (adults and teens in particular) are so incredibly good at psyching ourselves out.  When we don’t have a plan, many of us spin our wheels frantically: “I have no idea what to play, I have no idea; no, not that, that would never work, you Idiot!” and so on.

Maybe your heart is racing, or you’re blushing, or you’re shaking, because your mind has tricked your body into believing that is in actual danger.

Or maybe you have no idea whatsoever what your body is doing, because all you know is that your brain is going a mile a minute.

What would it take to free you from this?

  • Safety in numbers, knowing for sure that everyone else around you is taking the same kind of risks?
  • An extended period of time in which to explore, knowing you aren’t rushed to come up with “the right answer” in a hurry (or ever)?
  • Some specific ideas about how to narrow the field of possibilities enough that you can choose a starting place?
  • What else?

So, Jenna and I are doing this workshop.

It’s called “Music Improvisation for the Terrified” and it’s from 2-8pm on March 26th in Bellingham.  (Those are kind of weird hours, but folks asked us to make sure it was after the Democratic Caucus.  You got it!)


Some context:

Jenna Bean Veatch is my lovely friend.
She is also an amazing musician, choreographer and all-around-sparkly human.

She has a lot of experience facilitating movement improv. I have a lot of experience facilitating music improv. Five years ago, we had a conversation about how we both wondered whether we are brave enough to do the other person’s thing.

So we decided to teach a workshop together, focusing on music but bringing in the tools of movement improv, just to see what would happen.

What happened is that people loved it.  So now we’re doing it again.

Doing movement stuff really helps.  It helps you notice your brain, so you can learn to work with it instead of against it.  It helps you notice what’s going on within and around you, so you can interact with it better.  These are skills you need as a musician.

There’s something really powerful about realizing that what you do when you’re improvising music is the same thing you’re doing when you’re walking around.  Or having a conversation with someone.  Or deciding what to order at a restaurant.

It makes everything a lot easier.  And less terrifying.

So that is why this class has a movement component.

This is definitely a music class, though.

We will do a lot of music, no matter what mix of skill levels or instruments people bring to the class.  We will do some free-form things.  We will do some structured things.

The idea is that by the end of the class, you will have a toolkit of ways to go about making up music as you go along.  And you’ll know that you can do it.

Maybe this class will permanently transform you into someone who is never afraid to improvise.

Probably not, though.  What it will do is transform you into a person who remembers what it feels like to be confident and unencumbered by freakouts.  So you’ll know it’s possible, and it’ll be much easier to get there again in the future.

Plus, you’ll make new friends.  And that’s always cool.

Does this sound like the thing you need?  Or if not need, at least a thing that would be super-fun?  Click the button below to register.

Music Improv for the Terrified
Saturday, March 26th, 2pm – 8pm
my house (Bellingham’s Columbia neighborhood – location emailed when you register)

$75 – includes dinner (please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions)