Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Feature: "Ask Edward"

Hello everyone. I've implemented a new feature where I answer student questions on improvisation, composition, and piano playing in general right here on my blogl. To start it off, Carol G. asks:

"Hi Edward. A question for you. I've been playing piano (classical) for 6 years and am having lots of trouble improvisinng and staying in the moment while playing. Help please!"

My answer to Carol B.

Hi Carol. What you're describing is not as uncommon as you may think. Many classically trained pianists share the same problem you described. The simple answer is you haven't been "trained" to improvise. You've been trained to note read and interpret what someone has written.

The most important ingredient to your success at improvising is an attitude of play! So many take music seriously. But I always tell students that it's just music and it's perfectly OK to play around with it. The cardinal mistake made by many is they make the music more important than they are. What I mean is, they think it's a serious business so they approach it with the same attitude.

Of course you're going to have problems if you think like this. Improvisation is play pure and simple.

Here's an exercise that may help you. Go to your piano or keyboard, sit down, and just play for 5 minutes. Don't worry if what's coming out of you is good or bad. Give yourself permission to just "be" at your instrument. Once you feel the joy of this, you'll get it and you'll understand the main principle behind all successful improvisation ... play!

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