Learn to improvise. 2003-2004. Lesson 00: why improvise?
'Improvise' means something like unprepared, but improvising needs actually much more preparation than reading from sheet music.
A common question is:
Why would one improvise a poor piece of music while one can play
Indeed, the rules for music reading are only a small part of the total music theory, and for improvisation even the theory for composing has to be extended with much extra knowledge.
So what are the reasons to improvise? Some of them are:
Once you have achieved a certain level, improvising becomes addictive. I have
met people who had music lessons during ten years and played well, but hadn't
done it after that for many years, until they started to improvise. Now they play
daily and sometimes in public, which they wouldn't have dared in their sheet
music period. Their score reading has improved, too, because they are more self confident.
They now know more about the structure of music and have the
routine to replace on the spot a difficult note by another one, which comes
closest to the same musical effect.
- many people hate note symbols
- reading music requires attention at the expense of creation
- just personal preference
- predisposition: inclination to perfection (reading) versus emotion
- understanding of musical structures
- creativity rather than reproduction
- alternative use of the brain (the creative in stead of the mere understanding
- mentally broad activity (creation, feeling, adaptation, socializing, use of
memory, feeling for art, etc)
- priority to a particular musical element, e.g. special rhythm elements
- adaptation to environment
- to be in good company: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin improvised
- improvisation comes right from your heart
- compare a storyteller with someone who reads out from paper
- the tension of searching for a feeling differs from searching in ones memory
- the balance between predictability and surprise can be realized better when
improvising than when sheet reading
- the shackles of perfection are less tight for improvising than for sheet reading,
which gives a pleasant relaxed air.
My definition of improvising covers everything between cheating with score
reading to completely inventing a piece of music. I will pay most attention
however to the usual procedure of making different melodies at a given set of
Most music lessons prepare for performance, but so little time spent on playing,
will in reality be used for that. So my goal is to learn how to enjoy your own
music. It is remarkable that as a side effect this improves the capability to
perform as well.
<< Homepage / Index of the course / Next page >