Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saying Yes

All I can say is that teaching improvisation classes to DePauw School of Music freshmen is the absolutely best job in the world. I've been having such an amazing time this semester that the amount of experiences to recount is so overwhelming that I haven't known where to begin.

Today's class ended up centering on "saying yes" to one's own ideas and the ideas of those one is improvising with. I say "ended up" because I'm finding my young friends so open and flexible (and I suppose I have enough experience to draw on) that the best plan for teaching has been to have no plan and follow my instincts of the moment.

Commenting on the improvisation one group did early in this morning's session, I found myself talking about the concept of "saying yes" which I've heard features prominently in the Second City approach to comedy improvisation. We've explored many techniques and structures for improvising. Today we moved (back) into small-group improvisations with no talking first, and a commitment only to saying "yes" to one's own ideas and the ideas introduced by the other players. The kids took themselves places I didn't think they could go.

When people go from playing carefully to really connecting with their creativity and doing amazing things, truly connecting with each other, and genuinely expressing themselves, it is magic. It's a privilege to witness. And how I got to be the one who helps them open these doors for themselves I'll never understand. At the moment, I just feel overwhelmingly grateful.