"I learned to listen for a longer time....usually I just play 3 or 4 notes and decide it doesn't sound good enough, then I stop." - Angela, participant in my Music Improvisation for Everyone workshop I love that learning from my class last night. It's a great reminder that we may not be giving ourselves enough time and space to really listen and allow things to develop. We might be judging ourselves too quickly, not allowing those first few notes (which may not sound great) to develop into something else, perhaps something completely different. Recognizing that a few notes don't sound great isn't evidence that you should stop. It's evidence to keep listening for more. Keep listening for the next note. And the next.
Bobby McFerrin's definition of improvisation is "motion". You play one note. And you play another note. And you just keep playing note after note. It evolves on its own.
That's what I've found about improvisation too. And I'm still playing those first few notes in my life, reminding myself to listen a little longer.