You're sitting at the piano playing your favorite song but you
can only play the notes on the sheet music in front of you. You
long to play that song the way it is running in your head but
you just don't know where to begin. Does this sound like you?
Years ago I could only play the music in front of me. I knew the
sound I wanted but I couldn't understand how to play it. Then
one day I was listening to a cd of some favorite tunes and I
could recognize what the pianist was doing. In a nutshell he was
playing the scale notes in between the melody! Along the way I
discovered there was a bit more but I have it down to formula
that works for me now.
1.Sing the song first: Even though at first I was only
improvising on songs I already at least had a melody line and
chord for, I now improvise a number of songs in my head before
even sitting at the piano. Many times your creativity with a
song will stop at your fingers. If you sing/humm the song first
you will notice a lot more creativity happening because you were
proficient with speech first.
2. If you can't make it then fake it: If you're having problems
coming up with your own tunes, turn to a fake book and start
your improvising there.
3. Don't be afraid to use the whole piano: Next time you are
around a good pianist, say the one at your favorite department
store, notice how they will do several runs up and down the
piano. Or how they play those wonderful deep notes in the bass
of the piano.
4. Don't get discourage by your first results: You're not going
to sound good at first. Well you might but since 99% of us won't
just go with the flow and don't give up.
5. Keep at it: You will get better with time. Practice makes
perfect or at least much better sounding.
Some things to keep in mind. If you aren't already familiar with
chords and scales, get to know them. This will greatly increase
your improvising abilities. Invest in some good learning tools,
for this. Books or videos the choice is yours. Choose depending
on your learning style.
About the author:
K Quinn has been playing the piano for 10+ years. She picked up
the guitar 5 years ago and both for her church. Visit her
website at http://www.strugglingchurchmusician.us for more
church musician tools and tips.
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