You asked if kids play in the sandbox anymore. Judging by this one, right on your own block, I'd say yes! Thank you for the inspiring lecture on improvisation. You expressed so succinctly, so many thoughts that have been flying around in my head. I particularly like how you describe improv as the original music.
Who was the first person to blow through a reed and make a song? Who was the first to accidentally cover a hole and play a new note? Why have we moved so far from improvisation as a serious form of study (serious in all its humor and surprise) that people fail to grasp that one practices it just as we practice classical music? Is our ability to improvise (or not) cultural or inherited through the genes? Why are we encouraged to play with paint freely, the way we play in a sandbox, but with music we are presented very early on with strict rules? Is our insistence that learning how to play classical (white, European) music as the best foundation for a musical education, a racist construct or a truism or just what we've learned to say? What about the improvisational acrobatics that is classical East Indian music? Would those musicians benefit from learning the rigidity of our classical music first?
I used this photograph to illustrate a post awhile back, trying to show how strange it would be to introduce playing in the sandbox the same way we introduce music. My mom for one, thought it was about how to play in the sandbox. So maybe this proves the woman's point who said these tendencies are tired to general dispositions.
Here's a link to the post:
Frank Rippl at All Saints
Improvising on the pipe organ
and discussing improv techniques at the piano