I was wondering why musicians, specifically piano players might apply the concept of free writing to playing piano.
In her bestselling book The Artist's Way, Julie Cameron suggests keeping a journal. She refers to them as morning pages where each morning, you just write off the top of your head.
This free writing exercise is nothing new. It's been done and popularized for quite some time now. But "The Artist's Way" really brought this practice back.
I was wondering why musicians, specifically piano players might apply the concept of free writing to playing piano. It then dawned on me that if you time your improvisations, or more accurately, set a time limit for how long you're going to play, it creates a space where the muse is free to express.
To this end, I created a lesson titled "Timed Piano Improvisation Exercise." It is a lesson that uses a 3-5 minute time limit. Students are encouraged to play whatever comes up within the given parameters - 3 chords in the mode of A Aeolian.
The beauty of these kinds of exercises is that the choice as to what to play has already been made. Now, all that is required is for the student to sit down and play within the limits set.
Some fight the idea of limitations thinking it constricts creativity. Not true! It actually helps you to focus in on self-expression. That's because you're not thinking about the next chord to play. This choice has already been made. All that is required now is to simply create in the moment.
And when the moment is a timed practice period, it gives students the freedom to just be at the piano.
After successfully trying these exercises myself, I realize how powerful they can be. Material comes that may have never appeared any other way. Why? Because we aren't focused on creating a product. Instead, we allow the improvisational process to lead us and this always leads to the "freshest" sounding music.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.