Embracing musical discovery

Lately, I’ve begun experimenting a bit more with teaching my students to think creatively. . . In other words, teaching them to experiment! (e.g., to improvise and compose)

One of my 10-year old students asked me today, “How do you make up your own songs?” It’s a funny process to describe, because every song arrives differently–like a seed planted in my head (in my ear? in my heart?) . . .

. . . But, I talked to her about choosing a sequence of chords that you like first, then improvising a melody (starting with the same chord tones in the right hand). OR, I said, you could hum/sing a tune over the chords, if that’s easier. When I left, she was already spontaneously plunking out different (white key) chords, looking for sequences that she enjoyed.

I didn’t intend to write a song today. But, I felt pulled to the piano, and started playing Tori Amos’ “Pretty Good Year” (a song that I rarely perform, but LOVE to play). Then, this song appeared, as though out of thin air. (The beginning hook/melody came first, before I even knew what key it was in.)

I love the process of discovering a song:
“What will it be?”
Does it want words? A voice?
Or is just the piano sublimely sweet, and perfect?
I heard (and recorded) a possible vocal harmony/descant part. . . Maybe it wants to be sung by a group!
I don’t know yet. And that is perfectly good. . . That’s what makes this process so fun and exciting.

Even if the song is already written, you can ask a variation on the same question: What will it be, TODAY?
No song is exactly the same, from one day to the next. It depends on the “weather”, inside and out. It depends on our familiarity with the music. And, if you’re improvising, the song could yet take another form entirely. New patterns or a slower/faster tempo could entirely shift the piece. . . So could your level of touch (dynamics). Is it subtle? Gentle? Probing? Sweet? . . .

. . . There is NO way to get bored to with music, if you become an explorer, with an open mind.  There is always new territory to explore.  There is a new avenue of musical discovery.  And you can also deepen, right where you are.

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