Stop That Mucking About!

I had a conversation with a parent a few weeks ago; she was telling me that when her son plays around on the piano and makes up his own stuff, she tells him to stop it and get back to his ‘proper practicing’.   My answer? “But that ‘mucking about’ is creativity!”  That ‘playing around’, that ‘wasting time’ was this young student discovering sound colours, learning his way about the keyboard, developing confidence in his improvisatory skills, making fledgling compositions, and generally connecting with the piano.  And it’s absolutely vital that young musicians are given the space to do this.

My daughter, who is helping me out with The Repertoire Project by learning the second parts to some of the Introductory level duet repertoire, started ‘mucking about’ today whilst we were practising together.  She developed a melody after hearing a short snippet of a duet that I suggested (which we never got around to practising, but who cares, the tangent was even better).  I joined in with an accompaniment, and after ten minutes of a mixture of improvisation and composition, we came up with this…

Creative, enjoyable, musical, collaborative, experimental, and like so much music, beautifully fleeting.  But worthless? Absolutely not.

For more details about my teaching practice, including prices, vacancies, and information on distance theory marking, or learning piano as a beginner, intermediate, or a post-grade 8 student, please go to lynnephillipspiano.moonfruit.com

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  1. #1 by Percy Sugden on May 26, 2015 - 3:39 pm

    I know a church organist in Bucks who actually encourages ‘mucking around’ after the service, as, so she says it ‘encourages the organists and pianists of the future’. If only all churches were like that, at my local church the organ is securely locked away post-closing hymn and two pages of Orlando Gibbons!!

    • #2 by properpianofingers on May 26, 2015 - 4:18 pm

      That’s wonderful – how amazing to offer the opportunity for student musicians to play a church organ.

  2. #3 by Percy Sugden on May 27, 2015 - 3:09 pm

    It only takes away the high formality and snobbishness of the whole sphere of playing on a Sunday – especially now as churches are struggling to find organists to play on a Sunday because their regular organists are retiring and/or ‘popping orf’ and are having to turn to sound systems and CD players. I like the title of this comment. I think Kenneth Williams rocks the partee!

  3. #4 by Percy Sugden on May 27, 2015 - 3:15 pm

    oh and by the way Lynne very best of luck with your concert for the victims of the Nepal quake. Hope you make lots and lots of money and that you will be filming the result for Youtube. If I was closer I would love to take part as it is something very close to my heart (and how music can make a difference for mental health care) – when we were in the Cubs, we did a huge project on Nepal and the Himalayas.

    • #5 by properpianofingers on May 30, 2015 - 8:11 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I won’t be filming this one (the last one was filmed as a special favour by one of my students who can’t make it this year).

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