Let’s Improv to Improve – Improvisation in Life, Improvisation in Biz



In Improv we get as close as we possibly can to the data of experience” 




  “The Art of Improv is a bridge between personal, educational and social change

Martina Pavone – TEDxIstanbul Moda talk, 2014

How do I do it?

In my trainings people actively participate, they basically play all the time, except for when are debring, or having feedback sessions and sharing moments between the activities. I guide the people through a journey where they can realize patterns in their behaviour and they can help and support each other. I prefer games that are based on cooperation instead of competition, where we all make mistakes so we learn, where we celebrate about our failures promoting relationships, respect, fun and the idea of building something together.

If we could just make all people play more, taking themselves less serious we could avoid so many conflicts, stress, intolerance, fanaticism and even war.

Through this Group Discovery everyone can find out their interaction within the group. They discover their individual part in the whole becoming more aware and appreciating something more about spontaneity.


What? My method is a mix

Yes, my method is a mix of different techniques I’ve learned through the years. Most of the work is based on Applied Improvisation Techniques where Improvisational Theater and Vocal Improvisation can perfectly meet to create a big basic of experience. Also I had a big influence from the Group Discovery from Findhorn Foundation, and then communicational games, Storytelling techniques, Gestalt, Neuro-Linguistic Programing, Music and Theater’s fundamentals, Role-Play, Critical thinking from Philosophy and Organizational Leadership/Management theories.. All kind of experiential work based on inductive approach.



Let yourself play! What science says?

“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play” – Heraclitus


“You can discover more about a person in a hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato


Stuart Brown, the founder of National Institute of Play, said that playing gives a share to your brain, inspires your imagination and your soul.

It has been years that neuroscientists, psychologists, biologists are studying that the benefits of playing are making all animals more intelligent and adaptable.

The neuroscientist S.Pellis discovered a directly proportional relationship between the measure of the brain and the natural propensity to play.

J.Panksepp discovered that the active playing is stimulating the creation of new neuronal connection. The hungarian psychologist M.Csikszentmihalyi defined the concept of flow as a highly focused mental state, completely focused and ready to absorb everything you are doing where you are that much actively involved that you don’t care about nothing else. He proved that a manager in this status is becoming 5 times more productive that means that his productivity will be 500% more. Experimenting this technique through playing will help us to use all its benefits even in our daily life in sports, in business, in arts, in learning..


The power of playing can powerfully transform:

    • the health of people, mentally and physically making them happier, more optimistic, more self-realized because develops emotional intelligence and self esteem.
    • Relations, making them more harmonious, empathic and respectful encouraging cooperation and sharing


  • Education, because researches just proved that playing optimizes learning and problem solving as well as creativity, imagination and cognitive development.


  • Business, because many approaches based on playing, dealing with groups behaviour proved that innovation, productivity was definitely improving and stress, lack of engagement and motivation were definitely decreasing.


What is Improv?


a – The Art of Storytelling without a script, without a music sheet. (entertainment)

b – A model, an approach to life

c – A neutral space

d – A tool for exploration and exploitation of yourself and your group

f – A process, a mindful responsiveness to relations that generates positive development


Reference article from Forbes – “ Why Improv Training Is Great Business Training” – Jesse Scinto, Lecturer in Columbia University


Improvisational Theater

Improvisational theatre, often called improv or impro, is a form of theater where what is performed is created at the moment. In its purest form, the dialogue, action, story, and characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script. Improvisational theatre exists in performance as a range of styles of improvisational comedy as well as some non-comedic theatrical performances. It is sometimes used in film and television, both to develop characters and scripts and occasionally as part of the final product.

Improvisational techniques are often used extensively in drama programs to train actors for stage, film, and television and can be an important part of the rehearsal process. However, the skills and processes of improvisation are also used outside of the context of performing arts. It is used in classrooms as an educational tool and in businesses as a way to develop communication skills, creative problem solving, and supportive team-work abilities that are used by improvisational, ensemble players. It is sometimes used in psychotherapy as a tool to gain insight into a person’s thoughts, feelings, and relationships.

The earliest well documented use of improvisational theatre in Western history is found in the Atellan Farce of Rome circa 391 BC. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, commedia dell’arte performers improvised based on a broad outline in the streets of Italy. In the 1890s, theatrical theorists and directors such as the Russian Konstantin Stanislavski and the French Jacques Copeau, founders of two major streams of acting theory, both heavily utilized improvisation in acting training and rehearsal.

In the modern times we owe everything to the John Dewey movement of progressive education, to the vaudeville of Dudley Riggs and to the gurus of Improv: Viola Spolin and Keith Johnstone.




Why also Music and Vocal?


Music is a reflection of human accomplishment process. it’s a universal phenomenon that trascends and put down barriers between men, ethnicity, people and history.” – John Blacking (Irish Anthropologist)


Plato said that music is the highest form of knowledge and it’s close to phylosophy, so should educate humans. Nietzsche said that music has the supremacy even against words.

It always had different functions, from expressing emotions, pure entertainment, communication, symbolism, to ethic and social integration. In the ancient tribe it was necessary, they were using music to celebrate spontaneously basically everything: a birth, a death, food, rain, love and war.

Through the Voice is even more powerful. The Voice is a nude, natural and pure instrument. It’s a reachable and free for nearly everybody. It’s very special because we all have a different one that is a reflection of our inner ego. We all have it and noone can take it away from us.

As a vocal coach I have the moral duty to remove blockages and to empower and make comfortable the voice itself: learn how to control it, accept it, raise it and love it! And also, a voice  is powerful by itself, but when is with other voices become one big Voice that has a very big powerful impact.
Reference article from a Neurological research – “ How Music Affects and Benefits Your Brain” – Belle Beth Cooper

Vocal Improvisation:

A spontaneous creation is a fiction: a free improviser always starts from some state of consciousness in which there is some residual influence of previous events, or starting point, and must perform within a set of technical and aesthetic constraints and possibilities that have become part of his or her history. Here, we have a much more fluid relationship between playing and creating. You can think about this like the art of “making it up as you go along”, an online creation, a significant degree of moment-by-moment creativity (Oxford). All of this it’s even bigger when it’s about Free Vocal Improvisation.

Many studies on Jazz Improvisation marked the big relationship between the body and the instrument, not just the social context. For example they were considering the layout of the instrument, while analysing Charlie Parker with his saxophone: “fingers seems to do the thinking” (Berliner).

It’s a kind of problem solving itself. But what happen when the instrument is your body itself? Without fear we can state that in this case the result is even more powerful.


We consider Bobby McFerrin the father of Vocal Improvisation and Circle Singing. He made up an orchestra of voices, a Voicestra, and mixed together all the spontaneous music culture of ancient tribes from different part of the world. The he mixed again with all the classical and the modern culture. When you have all of them there, everytime you can create a different recipe. Contamination and new creation. Storytelling through voices where we all speak the same language.


Improvisation and its secrets:

I believe that Improvisation it’s not just an outstanding form of Art ready to entertain us. I think it’s the perfect tool in order to explore and develop, better than anything else, human behaviour, self development and social integration.

The three most important key points learned from Improv are: Open Up, Feel & Share

Open Up: it’s a state of mind, you need to be ready to be open minded in order to receive stimuli, no fearing the change, managing the unexpected and think outside of the box.


Feel: now you are ready to feel but with all your 5 senses, taking in consideration that listening is the most important one. Empathy will be your best friend, you will need to be curious and thirsty of a new learning. Stay with the flow, here and now, stay in the moment. It’s a matter of focusing but not overthinking otherwise it’s not experiencing, noticing or discovering.


Share: finally you are in the third step where you will connect points, people, concepts, subjects.. You will contaminate them to each other in other to share, create and build as a collective mind. Storytelling, Adaptation, Flexibility.


Improvisation involves coming into a situation without rigid expectations or preconseptions. We must keep going forward, fearful or not, and be ready for anything that comes our way. That’s how life is. Remembering that life can be full of surprises is always useful. We’re always useful. We’re improvising all the time, it’s good to recognize that.” – Bobby McFerrin


You can waste your lives drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them

– Shonda Rhimes



Read about my last project on Bullyism where I could use my “Let’s Improv to Improve” method! 

nomatterwherewe are


© Martina Francesca Pavone