I think I listen better when I improvise.
Seriously. I think when I play classical music, my brain is so busy trying to execute what is written on that page, and trying to do it "correctly," that my ears turn off a little. Or at least they listen in a different way. The ears listen for precision, or clarity, or phrasing and form. But not as much to the creation or the question mark or the process.
When I improvise (like I do it all the time, or something... geez, this is just day two), I have to and want to listen intently. First of all, I'm not burdened by all that pre-written stuff. I can create what comes next, which is also the challenge. And if I'm not listening, it won't make sense. I may not always play what I want to hear next, and sometimes that surprise is the fun part. Or it just means I'm not as good as I want to be yet. But definitely, yes, listening is the big key.
And language, too. The notes might be the same, but the way they are used is totally different. I mean, there's a reason why there is usually a separation between the classical musician and the jazz musician. They're certainly not interchangeable unless said musician has had training in both. I feel like when I'm improvising, I'm sitting down at an instrument that I don't know how to play. Or speaking a language that I only know a few words of, but trying to construct an entire dialogue.
Well, here's what it sounds like when I try to speak Mandarin:
Day Two: https://ia902703.us.archive.org/8/items/Improv81611/Memo-2.mp3