Michelle (my wife) and I spend a lot of time at are neighborhood coffee house and roastery, Beans Boro. We have become friends with the owner - who is a music lover. We always have great conversations with Kyle on music and the arts scene in Greensboro. Yesterday we were talking and I thought to myself "I need to play here." I asked him if he had anyone coming in to play tomorrow, and he didn't. So I asked him if I could play. Sometimes you just want to play.
I have a few short pieces that I have written for unaccompanied bass. I needed to fill the the time with more music so I decided on doing some free improvisations. Now, if I had thought of doing this more than 10 years ago I would have not even considered playing without music in front of me. I use to think that improvisation was this "mystical" thing that you could or could not do. When I worked with composer/bassist Robert Hurst on improvising, my first lesson was HORRIBLE! I was a total mess, I wonder to this day what he was thinking. He was probably thinking "please don't come back!" I was determined to do it though. He gave me an assignment every week that he called "The Routine" . In this study you had a tonic note every week and you would have to do major/minor be-bop, whole tone, pentatonic etc. scales and play a blues. We then moved into transcriptions and patterns. I noticed myself being able to play things that I wanted and was able to narrow down ideas and improve my compositions.
Now I incorporate improv sections into my compositions and it allows me to adjust a piece (during a performance) to suit the feeling of the crowd. Usually these sections are used in the development or coda of the piece.