Encouraging imagination

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As a full-time piano teacher, I am constantly challenging my students to use their imaginations. What are some ideas to encourage things like original composition and re-arranging a piece? Just looking for some food for thought since I am trying to impress the importance of adding some personal uniqueness to music above and beyond the mechanical reproduction of the notes. Thanks

-- Kyle Johnson (Keyboardkylewyo@yahoo.com), February 22, 2002


An answer from an earlier post: From the beginning I explain to students that each piece is a chance to learn many things about piano playing. So, for example, your student could: play the right hand part with the left hand, left hand part with the right, use both hands to play the right hand notes an octave apart, same for the left hand part, play the melody and harmonize an alto part (singing and on the piano), sing left hand while playing right hand, tap left hand part on thigh while playing right hand part, play the piece in different keys, play trills on every quarter note, if piece is in the major then play it in the minor, and so on. If a student has done this kind of varied work throughout the study of a piece, and even begins to create his own “exercises,” he will eventually learn to think musically and will be able to learn pieces by exploring through the use of his own variations, without doing the same boring thing over and over. I find this kind of work really accelerates a student’s becoming musical, rather than just playing so many pieces in a method book every week. It is true that the student will learn fewer pieces, especially at the beginning, but the rewards later on are worth the time spent on musical variety at the beginning: little by little the student acquires the tools to begin to improvise and create his own music.

-- noname (noname_poster@yahoo.com), February 27, 2002.

The most important thing is to make sure the student and parent know this type of creativity is acceptable in the lesson and during the practice session. Also offer a "Composers Corner" as part of your recital program to stimulate composition. A word of caution: Some students may use creativity as an excuse to not play the music score accurately.

-- Marcia Yurko (mjyurko@hotmail.com), March 11, 2002.

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