Well, yes, I approach much of my playing experience while alone from an improvisational standpoint too, but improvisation can become a little hackneyed when relying on familiar things for components. It can feel for all intents like improv in the sense you're creating motifs or fills or textures on the fly, but if the fly consists of oft-played components it's really not so much improv as it is a free-form routine masquerading as improv.
This is where recording practice times really helps, something I'm incredibly lazy about. Anyway, that's all I was speaking to -- not challenging myself enough to move on to completely new and different things. My tendency is to strive for some vague perfection by analyzing and developing the things I'm comfortable with at any given time. I do discover interesting variations that way, which is good, but it's not moving in a completely new direction. But I give myself a break, maybe too much of one, since I haven't been back at drumming for all that long --- couple of years after 20+ years off.
Well, there are many ways to do an improvisationary approach. I really do encompass every element and every way I've ever practiced by doing this it, but just by having that foundation and experience it's the simplest way of describing the process.
What I mean by not being able to look at it in such measured terms is that it's so much more complicated and has so many variables. Whatever mode I go into to fix something or come up with something is quite seamsless and intuitive Obviously, I don't approach teaching young students like this, but I do slowly try to open their mind to a musical "end in mind" approach that's still actual practicing.
I don't practice 8 hours a day anymore and rarly is there anything I play that I haven't practied at one time or another.
Not exactly the same, but similar concept.
If I bring new stuff to the shed it's already been done in small chunks on the practice kit or otherwise, so that kit time involves all the elements of playing music.