Improv in Jazz and Life…



A truly amazing gig tonight makes me, once again, aware of why I sing jazz and why it feels like everything makes sense when I do.

I got to sing with three truly amazing musicians tonight as well as really lovely human beings… We played two sets of 45 minutes and randomly picked our way through a list of over 100 jazz standards.. choosing as we went, whatever tune tickled our fancy and then just decided in the moment, tempo, style etc…  Lots and lots of swing of course!

I had only ever met the drummer after a concert he did at a prestigious auditorium here in Mexico City with the best known female jazz singer from Mexico about two years ago, so when I heard he was going to join us tonight, I was of course over the moon!

Albeit that I don’t know him very well, I feel like I got to know him musically tonight.  I also felt he got to know me a little, as we jammed, interchanged, improvised and generally just had a lovely time between the four of us as we tuned into each other, taking risks and even at times all making the exact same improvised decision simultaneously.

This is so much of what I love about JAZZ.

Last night I happened upon a TED TALKs video from Copenhagen, where a jazz pianist shared his thoughts on how he believed Jazz Wisdom could change our lives. I have to say, that I agreed with every single word of his talk and felt an enormous familiarity with his stories and experiences when referring to k¡how his life choices and attitude reflected itself in his music and how his JAZZ knowledge ( or ¨wisdom¨) influenced his choices on a daily basis.  One of the things I often refer to in my classes and when I’m just sitting down thinking to myself, is how in tandem my musical experiences and learning is with my life in general.

And it’s not always a simple solution! .. it involves time, observation, listening, responding,  having perspective and taking risks etc etc.

So I’m so grateful that from last night’s inspiring TED TALK, to my classes this morning and this afternoon… to an amazing gig tonight, that I am once again reminded that I am on the absolute right path for me.

Albeit not the traditional one by societal standards, it is absolutely the right one for me!

And with that I shall go rest my head as tomorrow is indeed another day!


twitter: @louisephelan





Stepping in and out of one’s comfort zone

Overcoming limitations…

Comfort zone challenges! WARNING!!  Consciously putting yourself in a situation where you know, at the outset, you will feel uncomfortable…

So, I was faced with this exact sensation a couple of times over the past month or so.. And I have to say, it was a very interesting and rewarding time, as I got to see myself from a different light as well as figure things out from a very different perspective that I normally would have…

It was about finding solutions and being even more curious to explore and experiment than ever before!

I have to admit that, at the outset I did indeed feel uncomfortable.  I felt intimidated and also somewhat unprepared for what was to come…

On a conscious level, I needed to calm these nerves and insecurities and well, just go for it. All the while, knowing that it would most likely be a not so perfect execution but that it would have both its good and bad aspects and, above all, that it would be an experience well worth having.

Albeit that from the outside, sometimes it may look like I I am a person who has everything planned, in order and under control… I too of course, being human, regularly have my moments of questioning and wondering if I’m making the most informed and best decisions..

Stepping out of my comfort zone also involves taking a decision that may have quite a bit of ¨unknown¨ or ¨unclear¨ about it and I try to base these decisions on a combination of gut feeling and a need to take a risk!

However, if I do get a feeling that something doesn’t quite feel right for me(on an intuitive level), even if it looks exciting and lots of people around me are saying that I should go for it, I tend to listen more to my gut (intuition).

I suppose, I am trusting this more, given the lessons learned from past experiences, where I’ve run and jumped into something just that little bit too quickly and soon realized that I knew all along that it wasn’t going to work out…

On the other hand, having the experience of something not working out and trying anyway has its benefits too (ie regretting is also a useless pastime), it all depends on what feels right in the moment.  So it’s on a case by case basis that I take that step out of my comfort zone.

Comfort zone :


a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

I think it’s interesting that this is the definition that can be found online when you google ¨comfort zone¨…
I understand the safe and at ease part but the mention of WITHOUT stress… well, I suppose it would be easier to understand if it was ¨without unnecessary stress¨…as stress makes us function physiologically as well as react to situations – so we need it in a healthy productive / constructive measure… But hey that’s a whole other blog entry ¨The benefits of stress¨!
So here’s a couple of interesting TEDTALKs that i found… as they address the leaving of a comfort zone, letting go, overcoming FEAR among other things 🙂
Let me know what you think!
-Louise 🙂