"The piano is a wind instrument"I've always been fascinated by the question of how people learn to improvise to produce and develop fresh performance ideas in real time. The video below, an edited interview with pianist, composer, and teacher Alan Pasqua, provides some insight.
One intriguing point Pasqua makes is that someone preparing to improvise on a song should ask himself, "What makes this song the song?" The musician can then address the follow-up: "How can I elaborate on what's unique in the song?"
Pasqua emphasizes the importance for improvisation of learning to view a piece of music in a different way from what one's accustomed to. This practice starting by first refreshing one's perceptions of the piece to be embellished can be a model for developing creative ideas in nonmusical situations.
P.S. Pasqua's anecdote about the piano teacher whose one and only lesson for him was to repeat that "the piano is a wind instrument" starts at 9:17 in the video.