My attitude towards improvising with classical music is "would the composer have minded?" I don't think Mozart would give two hoots, whereas Beethoven would probably throw his ear trumpet at me if I even altered staccato to legato. I used to substitute jazz / blues type fills for those two-bar Baroque flourishes which Bach often uses at the end of a Prelude -- I hope he would have been amused rather than annoyed and it certainly amused me to see if people noticed. (Quite often they didn't but sometimes you could hear a question mark hanging in the air!)
Classically trained (G8+) and wanting to play new styles
Posted 15 March 2019 - 23:09
Sorry for the late chiming in, but I've only just returned to the forums!
Personally, I'm very similar - classically way past grade 8, but almost completely lost without music. It's a pretty poor show for a piano teacher really, but we all have our own personal strengths, and mine is sightreading.
It's hard to start on a completely different aspect of piano playing - almost like starting another skill altogether.
I've found the best thing to do, for me, is just to sit at the piano without music, and see what I can do. Bits of memorisation, making things up, variations on something, picking out something by ear...
I have to admit that I fairly quickly get bored and revert to the dots
But as I have no particular desire to play jazz or any other style in particular, the free form approach suits me.
Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:40
I wonder if there are some specific barriers to classically trained musicians ‘switching over'. I somehow don’t feel it’s so much the ‘don’t know how to swing’ thing, and perhaps more of a psychological barrier – maybe we don’t appreciate how much there is to learn and that as carol*piano says, it’s actually like learning a completely new skill. Also since we know we can play from the music and it sounds so much better, there’s such a temptation to do that!
I’ve been playing by ear, trying jazz styles etc for about 6 months now and at first I found it much harder on flute (did grade 8 as a teen – was a ‘success’ at that) than on piano (did grade 4 as a teen - always felt I was a bit rubbish at that). On piano I wasn’t expecting to sound good or know much – so perhaps I was easier on myself and just willing to explore? I also find reading piano music tricky – so less of a temptation to do it.
On flute I found that to learn to play by ear I was literally going back to playing things like ‘there’s a hole in my bucket’…and even that I was struggling to do in different keys. That was internally fairly humiliating and I had to suppress the voice in my head saying ‘but I’ve got grade 8!’ I was surprised at quite how basic a level I had to go to. But 6 months of ONLY playing flute by ear and I’m much, much better at it now – and I’m better at it on flute than piano now I think, perhaps because my other flute skills are better than my piano skills?