Why you should learn to improvise on the piano
Do you wish you could just sit down and play the piano and sound good? Would you like to stop worrying that you’re playing ‘wrong notes’? The key to unlocking this feeling of absolute freedom is learning to improvise.
Most piano students dream of the day they can sit down and play the piano effortlessly and worry-free. And most will find that in traditional lessons that day never transpires. Instead, you study ever more complex repertoire. Playing the piano translates to hours of practice before getting it right.
But learn some improvisation techniques, and you can play without sheet music (and worry!). Instead, you build up a library of methods to express your own ideas and create music on the spot.
It’s a very freeing and creative path to take, and one I highly encourage all my students to consider.
What is ‘improvisation’?
Improvisation is the ability to play the piano ‘on the spot’. You don’t use any sheet music and often have no pre-existing tune.
Think of it as holding a conversation. When we talk to each other, we don’t strategise each word that comes out of our mouth.
Instead, we rely on our linguistic abilities to pinpoint the right words that express our thoughts.
Musical improvisation works much the same way. You hold a musical idea, a mood or a feeling in your head, and turn those thoughts and feelings into music on the piano. You do this without a tremendous amount of premeditation.
It seems like a magical skill, but it comes down to having a toolkit of patterns and techniques that will help to translate your ideas into music.
How do you learn to improvise?
But how do you learn improvisation? The freewheeling approach of ‘sitting down and noodling’ doesn’t work for most people. We prefer a little structure to beat the overwhelm when exploring new territory.
In my studio, I teach beginner improv by using a mix of patterns and external stimuli. I’m a licensed Inner Musician teacher and coach adults through the Play A Story programme.
Play A Story takes you through a series of improvisation exercises set to video and soundtracks. The exercises become more complex and challenging as you go along.
For each level, your primary goal is to create music on the spot to go with the emotional content of a video scene.
The programme is an effective (and fun!!) way to learn to improvise!
After completing the programme you will have learned many practical improv skills. You’ll also have learned an enormous amount about music in general.
I teach this wonderful programme alongside other lesson content using flipped learning techniques. So don’t think you’ll miss out on everything else piano lessons have to offer if you want to give it a go.
If playing with absolute freedom is something that appeals to you, get in touch today! I offer both weekly and fortnightly (bi-weekly) lessons, monthly billing and flexible rescheduling. It’s easier than ever to fit piano lessons into your budget and schedule!