What is it, that is so intimidating about improvising on our piano? For some it isn't such a big deal, but for a majority of us, at least the first few times, it is really an uncomfortable experience. So much so, that it keeps a lot of us from even trying it!
Most of us that learn to play the piano by reading music and spend an enormous amount of time in the beginning learning how to read music. We have to learn the note names, where they are located on the music staff and on our piano keyboard; as well as learning how to count and play in tempo. None of this is focused on playing from our heads instead of the music, because really...we need to learn these things to play well. In essence, we come to rely on sheet music to play anything on our piano. This is where the challenge comes in.
Improvising is playing without any music. It is when we play from the inside out, so to say. We "produce" the music, instead of having the music presented to us, and then learning how to play what is written according to the desires of the composer.
We've all seen different types of bands play. There's no music on stage with a band, right? That's because they are all improvising to a certain degree. Once the main chords and melody of a song have been established, each musician in the band will add their own creativity to embellish the melodies, turn chords into lyrical lines, and spice up the rhythms to create a one-of-a-kind-experience for each performance. All types of musical bands do this, not just Rock n Roll. Jazz, Celtic, Blues, etc. Many of the famous bands have musicians in them that started out with classical training!
So what are some of the common reasons we avoid trying to improvise?
If we look at our though process we see and hear all of this "chatter" with these fears running back and forth. They can prevent us from moving into action...keeping us frozen in our negative thoughts. One of the best ways to overcome all of these negative ideas is to - Stop thinking!
You counteract negative thoughts by action. Stop thinking and start playing. Before you know it, you will have played 3 minutes of notes that you made up, instead of listening to all the reasons you "can't" improvise successfully. It's as simple as that.
Sit down at your piano. What thoughts are rolling through your mind as you approach the keyboard to play music from your head/heart, instead of on paper in front of you? Can you hear your own "chatter?" Great...now instead of engaging with it, play a note on your keyboard. Any note. Do you hear more chatter? Play more notes...play some white keys, and then some black keys. Mix them up. Play some short and others long. Try some soft and others loud.
Wow...do you see what just happened? Even though you heard the chatter in your mind, you played. And you didn't play written music, you played your own music.
You just improvised.
How did that happen? You chose to take action, instead of listening to your thoughts.
Now the neat thing that will happen is that the more you counteract your thoughts with action, the less you will hear those thoughts, and the less they will make their presence known to you.
Action...overrides the negative thoughts.
The result? More positive thinking about your ability to improvise on the piano!
So stop thinking so much and start improvising...it's easier than you think, and certainly more so than your fears want you to believe!
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