If part of improvising is mimicking what you see someone else do, Joshua White’s mom modeled that when the family moved to San Diego.

She didn’t know where to take the family to church, he says, so she followed some people who looked like they were headed there, all the way to the big, pink Encanto Southern Baptist Church in southeastern San Diego.

Now, you can often find White there, playing piano and singing along with the choir. The 20-something has been playing in church since he was 10 or 11, a few years after he started learning the instrument. In his late teens he took up jazz and found his passion, which has taken him to heights like last month’s Thelonious Monk International Competition in Washington, D.C. He earned high praise and placed second.

Watch White play at that church and at downtown’s Dizzy’s jazz club in this video from the Union-Tribune’s David Brooks:

Thinking Jazz from David Brooks on Vimeo.

In the interview, White talks about the ways jazz has tweaked the way he sees the world.

“Something about that freedom and that means of communication really appealed to me,” he says. “And it seemed very natural. To be an improviser and to be able to play in the moment and to be able to speak this language, it really does affect how you think and how you perceive and take in information.”

White’s thoughts about jazz playing in the video reminded me of a few things David Borgo said in our recent conversation. Borgo, an associate professor at UCSD and a jazz saxophonist, philosophized about the way improvising and playing with other people shapes the way someone perceives himself and how to communicate.

Have you had experiences like these? What other art forms do you think create new ways of seeing ourselves? Do you agree with Borgo that a musical instrument can become as integral or connected to a person as a blind person’s cane? Leave us a note below or on Facebook; I’d love to hear what you think.

White plays Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Dizzy’s with his trio. The show costs $15 or $10 if you’re a student.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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