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How To Compose Your First Piano Piece

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Many students love to improvise. But I'm often asked... "When can I learn how to actually create a complete piece of music?"

To which my response is "when do you want to begin?"

I often tell students that they should wait to learn how to compose until they can freely improvise on the piano. And when I say "freely" improvise, I mean being able to sit down and just play without criticizing what's coming out of you.

When you can do this, you'll be able to compose a piece of music without having to stop every 2-bars or so. Having said that—and assuming you're already able to freely improvise, let's see how to create our first real new age piano piece.

First, understand that most music is composed in sections. In fact, musical composition is just the art of repetition and contrast. The first thing I have students do is learn how to complete an 8-bar phrase. Once you can "fill up" this section with either melody or chords, your work is halfway done. Why? Because this 8-bar phrase can be used as your (A) section.

For example, take a look at the lesson "Ice Crystals." Here we have 8-bars for the (A) section and another 8-bars for the (B) section.

The chords are already indicated so all you have to do is improvise your way through. You see, once you can feel an 8-bar phrase, you'll be able to really "get" the idea of musical sections. And you'll be able to understand how composers use repetition and contrast to create an entire piece of music.

For "Ice Crystals," we have a small piece of music in ABA form. It lasts for a few minutes and then its over. The great thing about this lesson in particular is that you learn how to take an improvisation and use it to "fill up" the 8-bar phrases. A skill well worth learning!

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