Group Improv and God’s Song – March 2016

As I began to prepare my mind and spirit for the January 2016 Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat®, I was also preparing my two boys for a music camp that they would be attending the weekend I was away.  Each of my boys is fairly musical, and this camp’s focus was on “musical improv.”  Up until this time, the boys’ instruction had been extremely methodical, rote, and memorized.  I was eager to see how they would do with this new introduction to flexibility and freedom.

As I was reading about the “art of improv,” I couldn’t help but draw parallels between what my boys would be doing with their cellos and what each of us IoH team members would be doing on the Legacy Retreat®. I envisioned, in particular, how “large-group improv” — improv involving a large number of players — works.  I researched this topic at length, and it drew me in further… the parallels continued to unfold.

A common misconception about musical improvisation is that it’s invented out of the air.  In actuality, the musicians are spontaneously creating a very intricate form of theme and variation.  It is important to note that spontaneity is NOT synonymous with impulsivity.  In improv, each musician knows the tune and the melody.  More specifically, each musician knows the role of his or her own instrument.  In order for an improvised act to be successful, the musicians involved must work together responsively to define the parameters and action of the performance.  With each musical interjection, a player makes an “offer,” meaning that he or she adds some element to the song.

It is the responsibility of the other musicians to accept the offers that their fellow performers make.  Accepting an offer is usually accompanied by adding a new offer, in a process improvisers refer to as “Yes, and…” that is considered the cornerstone of improvisational technique.  Every new piece of information added helps the musicians refine their art and become better in the future.  The song BEGINS and ENDS with a predefined structure and melody, but what happens in the middle is very unique.

I think of life in Christ as similar to this concept.  God has written the music, and it is largely predefined by Him.  He has written the beginning and the end of each of our songs.  The ultimate song of Christianity began LONG before we arrived on this Earth, and it will be here LONG after each of us is gone in body.

Specifically in relation to serving with Inheritance of Hope, we believe we are infused with Christ’s spirit… so deeply infused that we are performing the symphony that Christ began.   We hope to be playing God’s song at all times, even if we cannot always see the exact notes.  Each of us plays a different instrument, and each of us adds a unique “flare.”  The structure of each IoH Legacy Retreat® is predefined, but we rely heavily on the art of improv.  We are called to practice both mental flexibility and spiritual openness.  As we accept each other’s offers, we refine our art and become better Christians.

Together, through the gifts of Inheritance of Hope, we are SHOUTING a huge “YES, AND…”

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 — Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Patti Price, PsyD, LP, lives with her husband and three children in Rochester, MN.  Currently, she is taking time off from her practice to stay at home with her kids and write children’s books.  Patti is an avid traveler and loves being outdoors… except, of course, during the heart of Minnesota winters.  Her favorite activity is talking with and listening to others’ stories.