Improv as a Vocabulary Builder

One of the things I really like about having a wide range of players at the Improv Meetups (Taylor or Royal Oak) is that I get a good check on my pop culture awareness. Some examples: I know that “Game of Thrones” exists but wouldn’t recognize Jaime Lannister if he came up and bit me, I’m about 50/50 on current songs, and I’m a little disappointed that more of the group don’t get the My Little Pony and Steven Universe references I make.

They do do well with references to the Beatles and Star Trek, so it all balances out.

Every now and then, though, a word will pop up that only a few of us recognize. It usually leads to us throwing the word in here and there all night, often not knowing what it means until someone finally breaks down and asks.

So, here are a few examples of the things I’ve learned:

cannolo is the singular of cannoli

cloaca /klˈkə/ kloh-AY-kə (plural cloacae /klˈsi/ kloh-AY-see or /klˈki/ kloh-AY-kee)  – the posterior orifice that serves as reproductive, urinary, and digestive tract for some animals

ferrule (sounds like feral) – a metal ring used at the end of a handle or tube to keep it from splitting

ferule (which didn’t come up, but is interesting) – a flat ruler with a widened end, used in earlier days for disciplining children (ref. Tom Sawyer, ch. 6)

There may be more coming up – watch this space!

Why People who Take Improv are Happier!

I found this article posted on Facebook.

Why People Who Take Improv are Happier

I agree with it, especially the idea of ‘unconditional positive regard’. This is not only important for ADHD people, but for everyone. I love being able to create this kind of space for people when I do the Rec and Ed Impro classes.

I hope this encourages everyone to get out and play a little bit more!


Excitement at the Improv Class – Improvised Music Possibilities…

This is a very cool semester at my Rec and Ed improv class – for me!

All 5 students have interesting back stories and goals, but one in particular is just a “right place, right time” gift! I’ve been thinking of different ways to structure musical offerings at soon-to-open Pointless Pub (and here’s our Facebook Link). We are talking about music-behind-improv or music-between-improv sets, open mic, jam sessions, a host of possibilities.

I’d been reading about improvised opera, an idea that goes back at least as far as Leonardo daVinci.  I learned about the International Society for Improvised Music some years ago, but after putting out some initial feelers, I figured their bar was a lot higher than I could jump. I don’t have an advanced degree in composition or musical performance, I’m just a guy who plays guitar.

A few months ago, Ann Marie brought Bradley Sowash – jazz composer, improviser, all around cool person, and a horse guy – to Ann Arbor First Methodist Church. His down-to-earth style refreshed my interest in (and confidence about! – thanks Bradley) doing larger scale musical improvisations. But even if my own sense of possibilities opened back up, I still had to accept the fact that this is a very high bar, especially for a program just getting off the ground.

And then Peter signed up for my Improv-for-non-Actors class.

Not to stress him out (if he’s reading this), but he’s quite a cool guy for me to run into. He’s a student at the U, he’s part of the Creative Arts Orchestra (which does improvised music), and he’s interested in the connection between improvisation and mental health. That’s been an interest of mine for a long time, most recently after doing an improv session with Kirsten Milliken (PlayDHD) at last summer’s ADDA conference.

I’m still not sure where this is going to go, but a lot of possibilities are opening up.

Improv Class Starts Tomorrow! (Feb 2015) and other stuff

It’s been a busy week – I haven’t posted since the 16th. (I never made a commitment to myself to “post everyday”, but it was a fun run.)

Since the 16th, though, I’ve finished a draft of my MA project paper and finished assembling the book of poetry I’ve been working on since the end of summer. I have a copy with me, formatted for 6″X9″ with page breaks and fonts. I am going back over to see if I like the sequence of the poems and whether I am going to include any pictures (drawings and/or photos). Then, off to the editor.

I’m working on some music for an Indegogo promo for Pointless Pub and starting to pull together the setlist for our May Rotary Club gig “Lost in Space”.

But, the big news is that my Improv for Non-Actors class at Ann Arbor Rec and Ed starts tomorrow night. It’ll be about the sixth or seventh go-round and it’s always a lot of fun. Seeing new faces and some repeats and opening up space for them to just relax and have a good time is a real treat.


Bright and Shiny Open Stage – ADHD Talent Show

Last Tuesday, December 2, the Ann Arbor Adult ADHD group had its first Talent Showcase/Get together/Open Stage. (I’m always nervous about what to all it because every term is loaded with positive and negative connotations for people!)

We’ve been talking about it for over a year (how unusual for ADHD folks!) and finally decided to just pick a date and go.

We were well attended for a first-time event. Granted, most of the audience were performers, but I’ve learned over a lot of years that this isn’t unusual. And, you have to start somewhere!

The program went like this:

  • Five Miles More jazz band
  • Improv group
  • Monty Python “Argument Clinic” skit
  • Stand up comedy
  • “Who’s On First?” script from the Credibility Gap
  • more jazz
  • more improv

Everyone who attended had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the next one.