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  • ReeVes Wong

Why Can't I Improvise on the Piano?

Got an enquiry recently and the student was asking why is she unable to improvise and she's unable to play without scores despite the fact that she has grade 5 in piano and studied the instrument for years. Is it because she doesn't have the "talent" in music.

Questions like this really saddens me. I don't know how i can pass the message to more people but i'll try.

If you wish to learn music, one thing you need to remember is, EVERYONE can pick up an instrument. EVERYTHING in music can be taught, train, practiced and picked up. Including improvising. The difference is the system that you are learning in.

The only thing i can say that's very hard to train and does need some form of talent would be stuffs like perfect pitch or the instinct to compose like say Jay Chou or Yoshiki. You can teach the structure of a song and how it works but to write chart topping songs, you do need a special kind of talent. Other than that, everything else can be taught.

The thing you need to start focusing on is the skills. Your technique, your sight-reading, your pitching, your theory. Stop focusing on "oh, i am going to be grade 7 next year and that makes me awesome" no it's not. No big deal really. Once you have the skills cert will eventually come if you choose to take exam.

The best piano teacher that I've met in my life, he changed my way of teaching and thinking about music in under 15 minutes. And when asked about his musical qualifications, he answered "I've only got one cert, birth cert"

When you judge a chef, you judge by his cooking, the food he creates. When you judge you judge a footballer, you judge him by what he has done on the pitch. And you judge a musician by what cert they have is something i cannot comprehend.

Stop focusing on only the certs. When you sign up for a lesson for you or your kids. Understand where the course leads you to. What skills can you learn. And not how long does it take to get a grade 8.

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