Learning Piano: Method or Madness?

madpianistWhen it comes to learning piano, I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that you have lots of options. The truth is you don’t need someone else to teach you how to sit at that piano or keyboard of yours and start making music. Sure, there are basic musical fundamentals and technical aspects of playing on those keys that have been proven to work consistently, have been documented, and have been passed down through centuries in many forms. Virtually any “piano method,” per say that you discover, whether presented in book form, on CD of DVD, or online format will simply be a “spin” of what’s already been known to work to a degree for others.

So what came first… the music or the method? When you consider the likes of Bach’s The Two-Part Inventions and Sinfonias, which was published in 1753, here we have a compilation of material that was meant as a series of exercises and pieces written for the benefit of his son. Where the line is drawn as to that collection being viewed upon as a work or art or a method is subject to one’s interpretation. But one thing is certain: the musicality of this material is genuine.

So, when it comes to your experience, where is the line drawn between what you perceive as “methodical” and musical creativity as it applies to whatever you want to learn, whether it’s Bach, Beethoven, Billy Joel, or YOU? You don’t need permission to create. You don’t need a method to proceed. Does that mean to adopt a method is frowned upon? By no means is that the point here. But what really is key and worth understanding is that there doesn’t need to be a line drawn between learning and creating.

There is no shortage of material available out there when it comes to learning basics. If a step-by-step methodical approach is what you want to gaining some confidence with reading or playing songs by ear, then by all means adopt one. I’m cognizant of the fact that you will have no challenge finding anything of the sort. That’s why it has never been my intention to duplicate what’s been duplicated thousands of times. The material you will find at Piano Amore and in our store has been created (and continues to be) based on the premise that any individual, whatever her level of reading or playing competency, is capable of creating right from the very beginning. Any thought opposed to that is simply that: a thought.

I believe that if you’ve never played a chord on the piano before, then your experience learning your first chord should and can be a musical experience. And why not? A careful look at the first few measures of  Beethoven’s Fur Elise reveals that what we have here, for the most part, is two chords being approached in a creative fashion. Now, for those who enjoy classical music, that piece is one that many beginners aspire to play perhaps more than any other (or it’s at least one of them). It’s great to set a goal like this. That said, what’s wrong with simply taking that A minor triad and E major triad and approaching it in your own way right now? Go to your piano or keyboard and have fun playing those two chords right now and then playing them in an arpeggiated fashion (notes separately) with both hands in a way that comes naturally to you and appreciate the results that you get. Wahala! You’re improvising on piano! Your possibilities are endless so keep at it! As you proceed, the only thing getting in the way of what you hear as being considered something wonderful is your interpretation of it.

In short, the more you give yourself permission to create, the more you will come in touch with the creative musical genius that exists within you… and the more you will come to appreciate music… and the more you will come to enjoy, appreciate, and respect what you, as an individual, are capable of. So, head on over to those keys right now and create your very own masterpiece!

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