Peruvian Guitar

I hope you read my last Tuesday’s post on measuring true skill through improvisation, because today I will be sharing some tips on how to develop the ability to spontaneously apply your knowledge. To summarize, improvisation is the ability to take what you’ve learned in theory and put it into use with minimum effort. So to get started with improvisation, try to follow some of the following tips.

  1. Incorporate the skill into your way of thinking. You must be able to think within the context of the skill. If you are an aspiring student of graphic design, you must learn to think like a graphic designer; no matter how much you love to play with colors, you should’t brush typography under the carpet.
  2. Start improvising as soon as possible. It’s never too early to start training yourself in the art of spontaneous action. As soon as you’ve reached a point where you’re able to apply knowledge, don’t hesitate to do so—regardless of its unimportance.
  3. Create your own routines. If you’re studying boxing, develop your own combinations that you feel comfortable to use. Dancers should similarly choreograph their own dance routines according to their taste. Be creative.
  4. Focus on your favorite things. No one can master everything at once. No kung fu master can gain mastery over a hundred different forms (although many claim to have done so); so you should also to concentrate on perfecting no more than one or two forms. If you’re an apprentice web developer and enjoy designing shopping carts, focus on perfecting your shopping carts.
  5. Ask your friend to request something. Then try to fulfill the request. See if you’re able to apply your knowledge in order to satisfy another person’s needs. This is particularly important if you’re intending to go professional with your skills.
  6. Imitate the masters. Beginners should focus on imitating others. You can learn a lot just by imitating the masters. This is what apprenticeship is fundamentally about. As you progress, however, you should try to gradually liberate yourself and develop your own style.
  7. Ask other people to evaluate you. Constructive feedback is always valuable, so you should seek it from other experts. Have other people point out which aspects to concentrate on polishing.
  8. Don’t care about blundering. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process, so learn to accept them. The more mistakes you make, the better you know what things to improve upon.
  9. Don’t be afraid to apply your skills. Beginners are terrified to put themselves out there because of potential negative criticism. But the reality is, the earlier you do so, the faster you develop. As I said, don’t be embarrassed to produce something insignificant—no novice carpenter can build a stable house from scratch.
  10. Practice improvisation with a friend. Not only can you have more fun doing it, you will also be able to exchange tips and constructive feedback in a less serious atmosphere.

The key is to start improvising right now. Stop procrastinating and doubting your skills. Every one of us is green in the beginning, but the faster we start applying our knowledge, the faster we move toward mastery.

Please share your tips and comments below. Thanks!