Perfection == death

Can classical musicians learn to improvise?

Jesus. If being mute on the instrument you’ve been “mastering” since childhood, if you don’t have a piece of paper in front of you telling you what to do, is the price of this merciless cyborg-level perfection, then I don’t want to pursue it. That’s insane. To “master” an instrument and still not know how to handle it on your own? What the hell sort of “mastery” is that? And it comes at the price of amputating an entire chunk of your brain — the chunk that actually reflects your own individuality and expression?

No thanks.

Personally, I think one can teach improv — at least at a decent level. Too many other forms of music use it, and consider it teachable. The question to me isn’t “Can one learn to improvise?” but:

“Can one teach a child to sweat, shake, and nearly pass out at the idea of one Wrong Note … and also teach that child to improvise?”

No. One cannot. It is simply not possible to spend 20 years teaching a person to fear the consequences of one wrong note played before a panel of sour-faced ex-Soviet-bloc mummies on a jury who will bounce them in a heartbeat, and also teach that person to release themselves enough to improvise or even to compose.

And the world of classical music wonders why the Age of the Great Composers is over. *laughs* I can’t imagine why.