I’ve often wondered what goes through an improviser’s head during group improvisation. The improvised public performances I’ve participated in before have been more like improvised compositions in a sense—one person takes charge, or there’s a kind of plan vaguely sketched out (usually with the proviso that things might happen differently). This was my first time going in ‘cold’, without a plan.
Now I know what goes through a newbie improviser’s head, or at least through this newbie’s head: sheer terror.
I didn’t know what to do.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have let everyone else start first, but I was too scared—too inexperienced, too—to be left alone doing a solo (thank goodness that didn’t happen). But eventually after what seemed like hours of my silence I realised that I was going to have to do something. Everyone in the audience was expecting me to do something.
I have no recollection, really, of what was happening around me, but I knew that no-one else seemed to be making smooth sounds, and no-one else was making siren noises, so that’s what I did. A bold sound to try to scare off my nerves—a bit like when our dog used to charge out of the house at night-time barking to frighten all the scary things there.