Learn to improvise: me

my portrait I come from a musical environment, but my profession was computer design. Music is the elixir of my life. I like to listen to my own music and hate reading from sheet music. My feeling for rhythm is my best musical quality. I never can memorize melodies and give improvisation as an excuse.

There are many possible tips to give for improvisation, but I have never met someone who did that, when I was young. Music theory is a first step, but incomplete. I investigate improvisation rules. I use all thinkable ways. Most important is the feed back from my pupils. I do this already 20 years of which 15 years with a group of about twelve people. Weekly they sit around a piano. One plays for six minutes (controled by an egg timer), the others listen and try to learn from it. Halfway the meeting I talk about a subject related to improvisation. This approach with a group turns out to be much better than private lessons. The cause of that lies in the nature of improvisation.

The problem is how one can learn to feel what one really deep inside oneself needs. A pupil tends to do what the teacher does. When he has twelve completely different teachers he will sooner search for his own style.

In the usual lessons one learns how to play beautifully, not what one likes to play. The latter is the criterion for honest and original improvising. A new pupil starts showing what he can. It is only after months he is going to discover that he gets more attention and appreciation if he tries to create something honestly original of his own, however simple that may be. During his interpretation of Chopin the audience seems to wait until he is finished, but as soon as his finger lingers above a key and he doubts to hit it or its neighbor, everyone is in silent tension waiting for the result. From that moment on he is converted and enters the right road to artistic egocentricity.

The result of meeting each other this way during a year, is that everyone has developed a different and personal style. The way to really improvising has begun. One doesn't try any more to play like Errol Garner or Bach, but as oneself. Of course, one is influenced by an idol, but then, every piece of art has something familiar to make it understandable.

These meetings give so much joy of life to both the pupils and me that I regret no more people can join in. It makes me feel fine to contribute to other peoples happiness. That is the purpose of this website.

I try to keep the lessons of a high and still practical level. Some people play well but can't explain. Remarkably they move you the most. This is a reason for modesty but yet I will continue with the course, because when I was young I would have been happy if I had known someone who had given me the tips, which I had to discover in an inefficient way.

In the beginning no one believed piano lessons in a group round one piano was possible. But it turns out they can learn from each other (also what to avoid) and build up experience with playing for an audience. And their feedback to me improves the course.

Some lessons contain enough information to keep you busy for a year, but this way everyone can make his personal selection (who hates jazz, just leaves the particular lessons out). It is not important to finish all the lessons, but to enhance your enjoyment. One remark may make a lesson worthwhile. And that differs for everyone. After two years I asked which remark of my lessons had been the most important. And everyone gave a different answer. Here are just some of the answers I got:
-Convert every song to C (to learn structures of songs).
-Learn a good closing by heart (in order to finish satisfied).
-Be playful like monkeys.
-Play listening.
-Keep everything as simple as possible.
-Start preparing the chords before thinking up a melody.
-Begin slowly and softly.
-When you have no inspiration, meditate for a short while.

The group gives me feed back when I am not clear. Internet is less direct. I hope, you will send me e-mail (without attachment to avoid virus infection).

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