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Improvising On The Piano: Putting A Little Sauce On Your Chops
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What does it mean to improvise? It is simply the act of adding some additional flavor, some extra flair, and a little kick to whatever you are doing. To do whatever moves you without having it pre-written for you while letting the music make the moves for you.

Comedians improvise when a bit is not working as written or when the audience is not feeling it. They will feed off of the energy of the crowd and take a routine or a spur of the moment bit to a whole new level. Musicians of every level can improvise as well, adding a little flair or a little something extra to tried and true songs whenever it seems appropriate.

Many professional piano players will add a little flavor by improvising during songs they may have to play hundreds or thousands of times each week. For instance while improvising on the piano, some players might switch from one style to another for comedic effect.

Pianists who tell stories or comedians who incorporate music in their acts may choose to play snippets of songs during chosen parts of the stories or the comedy routine to add zing to them. Say the comedian is telling a story about how you should not take a first date to a funeral, especially for a family member, he will emphasize how poor the choice is and hammer that thought home in his listener imagination by playing a bit of the Funeral March.

Not every piano player can read music or will know how to sight read, so knowing how to improvise can help out in that situation as well. If you know part of a song but not all of it, you may be able to bluff and improvise your way through well enough that no one will know that you were lost.

Improvisational talent can be a godsend during a concert or professional setting as well. Imagine that you are playing along when your sheet music floats to the ground. You can’t quite see it and you can’t quit playing long enough to pick it up, as you are in the middle of the song, after all. Improvising in this case will allow you to keep playing until someone either picks up the sheet music or you manage to limp to the end of the song.

Playing piano is more than just playing a string of notes in a set order. You have to have some emotionality to the song or it comes off as robotic and forced. Adding a little kick of your own, a taste of your own personality lets you play the song, but make it just a little bit your own. Even Happy Birthday can sound fresher if you have a little bit of zing to it.


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