Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Good Do You Need To Be?

Many people assume you have to have 'talent' to express yourself with music. It's not true - or not true the way it's really meant.

I have had only a couple of students (in over a decade) who just seemed "made" for the piano. I have had more than a few students who asked should they "not bother" because they weren't good enough to continue. It depends, really: How good do you have to be?

Marcus Buckingham, a wonderful author, has written (or co-written) several books about strengths and talents. In First, Break All the Rules, he discusses what talent is. In my words, it's a way of thinking or being that is habitual and natural and which can be applied to a task or activity.

So the good news is, everyone has a talent that can be applied to music making and learning.

Your talent might be in seeing the pattern of spaces and lines that separate each note.

Your talent might be in automatically making a piece rhythmic - even if it's your rhythm rather than the one the composer intended, to start with.

Your talent might be in the way you touch the notes, instinctively adding light and shade, soft and loud to even the simplest exercise.

Your talent might be in hearing 'what comes next' and hardly needing to read the notes at all.

Your talent might be that you're willing to put in extra practice when your fingers don't instantly "get it".

Your talent might be that you're able to just sit back and enjoy the process of learning, without needing to evaluate yourself against concert pianists every five minutes.

All these are worthwhile and valuable talents. Most of us only have a couple of them. I have never met someone who had every talent.

So, how good do you need to be?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Use it or Lose It

Students who use their music, love their music. Music "use" need not include public performance.

One seven year old I know loves playing pieces with her Grandfather. An adult student plays endless repetitions of Vamping for her child to improvise against. A ten year old plays for the school choir to sing along. They all use their music. They are all good students. They have purpose. They have joy.

Too often, children experience music lessons as something intrinsically pointless that isolates them from all the fun and joy of life.

That's not who I want to be as a teacher. That's not what I want I want you to experience when you have lessons.

So, if you ever played an instrument (or sang) in your life, go and have a play now. Remember, it's meant to be FUN.