If you’ve done some research, you probably discovered that piano improvisation is not necessarily an area of focus in the majority of teaching studios. Why? Well, it’s not difficult to understand when you realize that the majority of piano teachers simply don’t have an improvisational background.
Does that seem strange? Well, the truth is that the traditional piano lesson, as we have come to know it, usually takes place with a teacher who has been trained to read and interpret the written page at a number of different levels. However, this teacher can possess a Master’s degree or better and still look at you like you have two heads if you pose the question, “Can you perform an example of improvisation for me?”
Improvisation is synonymous with freely expressing yourself musically. To be able to do that, you need to learn enough about the fundamentals of music and the technique on your instrument so that you become fluent enough to create. A teacher or performer who has been trained exclusively to adhere to the written page is not likely one who can help you along this avenue. As a matter of fact – and it’s unfortunate – a number of these teachers will actually seem to frown upon music that is improvisational in nature because it highlights what they lacked in their own training. This seems a bit immature but, nevertheless, it still remains a reality.
Learning to improvise is best achieved with the guidance of an instructor who understands and enjoys the art form, knows how to implement it, and loves to teach it. Such a teacher will also encourage you to take some self initiative and will provide you with a wealth of pointers as to how to make the most of your practice time.
Let’s face it… the Beethovens, Bachs, Mozarts, and Gershwins created wonderful masterpieces that have stood the test of time. Performing pianists have kept these works of art alive on an ongoing basis. However, keep in mind that these composers had a very good familiarity with the fundamentals of music. They had fun playing with the rudiments of music in a fashion that led to these great achievements. Doesn’t it make sense, as an aspiring musician, that you have the curiosity to nurture a creative mind set as well? Creating and performing your own music or variations of songs, at least to a degree, is conducive to a sense of satisfaction not likely attained by the player who simply plays “by dictation.”
Sure, learning and reading music ought to be a priority. After all, you open yourself to an entire world of music that you can enjoy when your reading skills have reached a certain level. However, balancing that off with learning to compose and play creatively really can add dimension to your overall musical experience.
Piano improvisation is one of the specialties here at Pianocadabra. So, yes, you get to enjoy a more well-rounded learning experience that allows that creative, musical genius within you to breath and be heard!