Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Drop in the unexpected

I like to improvise on the piano.

I like to let my hands and mind take the lead and to follow where they take me. Sometimes, whether by luck, some kind of intuitive judgement or mistake, I surprise myself. An unexpected harmony or twist of melody drops into the music and gives it a whole new feel and direction that lights up my mind and energises my playing.

You see something very similar happen when musicians improvise together. One of them may drop in a surprising snippet of melody or an unexpected turn of harmony. The faces of the other players light up and their playing takes up and develops the unexpected phrase, taking the music in a new, creative and stimulating direction.      

It is this unexpectedness that gets the neurons firing, rewarding the brain with those strong feelings of pleasure that come of suddenly discovering something of beauty. This sense of pleasure causes the music to 'take off': to become inspired and to become inspiring. It causes the players to challenge themselves: to stretch their abilities and find other pleasurable musical moments to develop and explore.

Dropping in something unexpected is not only for musicians; it is something we can all do. That unexpected insight, observation or idea we keep to ourselves: drop it in. That person whom no one would expect to be invited: invite her. Those actions or decisions usually done sooner or later: do them now. That caring, supportive or pleasing comment we were keeping for a more suitable time: drop it in now. If no one expects you to have an opinion: drop one in. If no one expects your generosity or help: give it now.

Experience the pleasure of the unexpected and watch it ignite your own and others' creativity and enthusiasm.

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