Your Brain on Improv
This TED talk about creativity really caught my attention - I used to play music professionally and semi-professionally and my favorite aspect of any musical performance is always, always, ALWAYS improvisation.
In my opinion, improvisation skills in music (and probably even in most domains) are what set apart the good from the great. The kinda interesting to truly innovative. The "yeah, that is some good stuff right there," to "Holy S***, I am awestruck."
So when I learned about a TED talk combining science and improvisation, I had to jump right in. Charles Limb reminds me of myself (except a much smarter, more scientifically talented version of myself) in that he combines his two passions - medical research and music.
In this TED talk, Charles presents some of the work he is doing using fMRIs to study the brains of improvising musicians, specifically jazz pianists and rappers. I don't want to give too much away, but it is truly fascinating to see the differences in brain activation between improvising musicians and non-improvising musicians. In my opinion, the implications for bringing more improvisation (and less structure and rules) into you work and life are pretty powerful.
If you are a leader in your organization, make sure you are allowing your employees chances to improvise - don't micro-manage them or set up too rigid of a structure. Improvisation can keep them stimulated, challenged, having fun, and more prone to flow at work.
If you are a creative (or wish to be one), embrace uncertainty and learn to not overstructure your work. Allow for some free-wheeling and improvising each day, and you will be rewarded with higher levels of brain activation. This means experimenting with a tiny change to your workflow each day or week could have immense benefits on your own well-being and creativity.
Enough words, let's get into the video!
Fun Fact: I composed the music for TEDx Claremont Colleges 2013 & 2014.
Check out what I did here:
Especially proud of what I think is a pretty cool resampling of the TED talks video sonic tag into a bluesy guitar-driven jam.