As a jazz-vocalist-in-training and a novice in this free-flowing art form, the prospect of improvising by my lonesome was (and still is) quite intimidating.
Improvisation, according to Merriam Webster, is "the act or art of speaking or performing without practice or preparation ahead of time." Thus, it's entirely possible to mess it up.
However, jazz is a different ball game. It's a musical space where the unusual is welcome and emotions are necessary. One can turn a "mess up" into a new groove in jazz.
The soloist is allowed to be out of bounds, but breaking form for the first time to improvise with your own musical ideas is a scary step.
Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with Scott Coulter, a member of the Settlement Jazz Faculty for a number of years. He shared my sentiments about the trepidation involved in the initial jazz soloing phase.
He described it as "terrifying when you first improvise, it's like shoving someone off the deep end." I couldn't agree more. I used to quasi-gallop away from my vocal teacher when I didn't know what to scat next. It gets better, kids.
On the flip side of things, Coulter also acknowledged this advancement in jazz practice as "the ability to have musical conversations with other musicians" and "creating music." I, again, couldn't agree more.
Jazz is an incredible forum for creativity, albeit the improvisation portion of its nature is undoubtedly fear-evoking at the start.