Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free To Be Creative at the Piano

After my brush with some of the piano teachers over at the Pianoworld forums, I thought I'd post this article. Enjoy!

I sometimes wonder why people even bother taking piano lessons. I suppose the hope is that one day, with a lot of practice, they too will be able to play Beethoven, Mozart, etc.

The idea of creating one's own music seems to be a foreign notion to most piano students. They believe it is beyond their ability. And with this belief they limit themselves.

In fact, I think music may be the only area where students are not encouraged to be creative. Not only that, but the majority of piano teachers want you to learn how to note read before you learn how to play chords - that is, if they teach you chords at all.

You see, classical piano teachers can stretch their curriculum out forever. You could literally spend 10 years learning how to play other peoples music. And while there's no denying this music is "good," it's also been played and recorded by people who have dedicated their entire life to getting it right.

Contrast this with visual artists. Do you think someone studying watercolor will spend years learning how to create another artists picture? It's ridiculous right? Yet this is what is done in the music world over and over again.

A student interested in learning how to paint in watercolor does not want to spend time learning how to paint the "masters." They want to be able to create their own beautiful paintings. So why should music be any different? It certainly isn't any more difficult than learning how to paint.

Personally, I have nothing against people who just want to play from fake books or learn the classics to perform for family and friends. I just wonder why the desire to create one's own music is so distant for most.


  1. Anonymous2:25 PM

    The analogy to art is fantastic. I had never thought of it like that. the concept opens a whole new world. I will use it with my students.

  2. I know. When I thought about how people interested in creating in watercolor went about learning, it gave me an entirely new perspective as well!

  3. Yes, completely agree. There is also other side of this. As I see it. You can play others people music creatively too. Task is to feel the energy/feelings behind the music, and use it as base, not just the sound of the piece. :)