Learning piano is popular all over the world. The ability to play piano is considered one of the top enviable skills in the world of music. There have been occasions when a famous musician at a concert asked for someone who could play the piano from the crowd and that became the turning point for the little-known pianist.

We have also heard many stories of random people that have met on a piano and created very beautiful musical compositions. That’s because the basics of piano playing are universal. Such even only occur because the piano players’ creativity is at its best. So how can you expand your creativity?

Traditional methods

One of the things you may need to break out of are the “normal” methods of piano learning. Such methods can be quite limiting and cause your creativity to be hindered. These methods are described below.

Confined to Classical Music

It is common to find that most piano lessons use purely classical music to teach the students. However, if you confine yourself to classical music, your creativity can be hindered regardless of your area of interest.

A Steinway & Sons
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

So, one way to tap into your creativity is to learn to play the music you like.

A recent Nielsen report showed that in 2015, Pop & Rock music made up about 40% of music sales, while Classical music consisted of only 1.3%…

This means that most people aren’t learning the kind of music they are interested in learning most of time. People aren’t going to play music they don’t like. Go out and play songs you want to play. You don’t have to play a Clementi Sonatina, or a Bach Invention. There’s nothing wrong with learning “My Heart Will Go On” or “Piano Man”.  Via Medium

Confined to notes on music sheet

Another common method that is used in learning to play the piano is using music sheets. While it is not wrong to learn using music sheets, it can be quite limiting to only do that, as described below:

In my opinion, if you only play the notes on the page, and treat them like gospel, then you never learn to play own notes, and thus make-up your own arrangements. Classical music is the only genre where music is expected to be performed exactly as it’s written, this is not the case with other genres.  Via Medium

Classical music is great, but it should not be the only genre you can play. Sticking to music sheets will limit your creativity and cause you to only go as far as the boundaries of the music sheet allow.

hands playing piano
Image Courtesy of Pexels

No improvisation

Improvisation is not common during normal piano learning classes. However, improvisation is what pushes you to be creative.

I’ll never forget the first time someone asked me if I wrote mine own music. I was shocked at the question. Why? I had only ever played music by the greats: Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, etc. No one could ever write music as great as them right? Via Medium

The truth is that improvisation helps you to explore your creativity and imagination. For this reason, you need to embrace the world of improvisation.

Another Piano Learning Method

People all over the world recognize the need for other methods of teaching piano that allow students to compose their own music as they learn the piano basics. One person that has done this is the founder of PMI.

PMI was founded by Pastor Irene Choon in 1990, who was at the juncture of giving up her music teaching career.

But then inspiration struck, and she wrote down in four hours an unheard of piano teaching method. Via The Star

playing the piano
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

The following describes how the students are able to compose their own music within two years by using methods much different from the traditional ones:

Instead of only learning to play by notes, which allow no room for improvisation, the course focused on a “touch system” consisting of chords, sol-fa, play-by-ear and notes. Via The Star

The result of such an approach to learning the piano is described by the director as follows:

“Chords allow different students to play the same song differently, reflecting the individual’s personality and creativity,” said Choon. Via The Star

Integrating methods that work

Rather than confining yourself to one method of learning that is considered effective, try to combine the different methods that will trigger greater creativity throughout your piano learning journey. Choon’s course does this as described below:

The PMI course uses a musical formula, like a mathematical formula, and lessons are conducted in a group, building on the basis of team learning. These are designed to maximise group interaction.

“By learning in a group, students can spur and encourage each other to improve,” she added. Via The Star


Ensure your piano learning method heightens your creativity by all means!

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On my bottom bunk bed, I sat in deep thought. I had an unusual problem. The prison choir that I sang in needed a piano player, and they needed one quickly. I thought to myself, How could I teach myself to play? I had no prior experience with the piano, but I can still remember running down the hallways of my grandmother’s house as a boy. Every time I ran past her old upright piano, I would slam all the keys at the same time. Sometimes in the mornings before school, as I listened to cassette tapes of my favorite R. & B. and gospel songs by Mary J. Blige and John P. Kee, I imagined myself playing the piano. I sang in the church choir from the age of seven on. In the sixth grade, I learned to play the xylophone. I had an uncle who played piano professionally at Las Vegas casinos and on cruise ships. When he came to visit, I sat in awe as he played our upright. Music has been my constant companion. It’s like my DNA has tiny quarter notes infused into it. Via New Yorker


The Improvisation Skills I Used In My Last Gig

A couple of weekends ago I did several gigs with a Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons Tribute band from Florida. We played a 90 minute show consisting of 60s and 70s hits such as “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. On stage with me were four singers, a guitarist, a drummer, and a bass player. Over three days at three different venues (in Lincoln, Lodi, and Antioch, respectively) we performed for probably 3000 people.

Here’s the crazy part: they gave me the sheet music for the show AT THE GIG. Yep, I arrived on stage for sound check at 3:30pm on Friday and that’s when I first saw the music… four hours before the show started!

And believe it or not, I was fine with this.

How could this be? Via Piano Lessons in Sacramento


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One of the hallmarks of jazz is that its players know how to improvise. So it would seem that the idea of teaching improvisation is a contradiction in terms.

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Although the common perception might be that improvisation is completely made-up on the fly, he says, it requires fine-tuned skills and preparation. Via Wuwm