If you can hear it, you'll play it sooner. Here is how I practice the piano on an ideal day.
Why not call me? You'll have fun, learn lots about music, the piano, and yourself.
Some great reasons to make 2017 the "Year of the Piano"
How to improvise: Part 1
"Ear training, instrumental skill, theory"
All accomplished musicians who improvise play what they hear in their heads. Let's unpack this statement.
Let's break it down further.
"They hear something in their heads." A developing musician must listen to the musical style they wish to improvise in: Jazz, Rock, Classical, whatever. How much listening? A lot. Last year at the Jazz Education Network convention in Louisville Kentucky there were several interesting young musicians in attendance. One, a young bassist, walked around with his ear buds in all day long. Complete immersion. With immersion, the knowledge students are acquiring in theory class starts to make sense. Theory is only helpful if you can hear it in the playing of others. Until you can, it likely won't make much sense to you. Or, will it be helpful in your playing. (An effective way to help your understanding grow is to transcribe music. Check out the video below for more information.)
"They can execute rapidly in real time." Learn to play your darn instrument. Learn how to practice. Then practice, as much as you can, alone and with others.
Why Start Now?
Taking up the piano after 50.
Why the heck not? Here are some of the fears I've heard over the years.
Let's break it down.
You are an adult, these are excuses. I have adults aged 18 to 78. All of them are improving, reaching their goals, and having a blast.
The successful ones recognize that patience and goals that are congruent with time and available resources will works. The unsuccessful students are impatient, failing to recognize the importance of clear goals and practice time. Happy students understand that practice is the point. They enjoy watching and measuring the incremental progress that thoughtful practice reveals.
"I can't learn anything new at my age" Of course you can, if you want to. Learning an instrument is a journey of exploration and discovery. Be in the here and now. Don't focus on the goal, just dive in and see what happens. I've taught adults for many many years. The successful ones just got busy and waited to see what became of their efforts.
"I won't live long enough to get good" What do you mean by good? As good as Lang Lang, Oscar Peterson? You are probably right. If you work at it can you get better than you ever imagined. You bet. Can you take satisfaction in that? Of course.
"I don't have a piano?" If you can afford lessons, you can afford to rent a portable electric piano. They are cheap.
"I had a bad experience with a teacher in my childhood." I'm sorry to hear that. But, times have changed and so has piano teaching. My students played pop music, video game music, classical music, jazz music, boogie woogie, and country flavored Christmas music.
"Piano lessons are boring, all the practicing and scales and stuff. I'd just hate it." I'll be honest, maybe music lessons are not right for you. Playing a musical instrument is about practicing. Ask any professional. We thrive on incremental improvements and discoveries. As Wayne Gretzky said, "I enjoyed every aspect of the game". No boring bits for him.
"I don't love Bach" Then don't play Bach. Play something you like. As you grow as a musician you may find that those acknowledged masters of music had something to them. Playing Bach is like taking a walk through the Vatican galleries. Each visit impresses us with the depth of it's grandeur as we discover new things.
"Piano teachers are boring" Some of us are fun. But, all the good ones will push you to be your best. Life is too short not to push yourself to reach beyond your grasp.
"Practicing is no fun" Then you are going about it all wrong. Learning to practice properly is thrilling in every way. I'm cranky when I must stop practicing.
"I don't want to go out to lessons on a cold night" I'll teach you on Skype. It really works. I've students all over Canada and the USA. Including in the GTA.
"My spouse would just laugh at me" Couples therapy. Or, just get a set of headphones for that electric piano you rented and leave them out of it.
Fitness for Music Students!
What does fitness level have to do with music study?
Check out this abstract: "...The research suggests that physical fitness training leads to improved mood, self-concept, and work behavior; the evidence is less clear as to its effects on cognitive functioning, although it does appear to bolster cognitive performance during and after physical stress. Except for self-concept, personality traits are not affected by improvements in physical fitness..."
Sounds good to me. See you at the gym.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.