Given my posts about teaching improvising, a number of people have asked to see me in action!
At my last recital, I opened the second half with a short 3-minute (non-jazz) improvisation. I had not planned any aspect of this prior to stepping on stage. It was completely off-the-cuff, but based on my understanding of harmony, theory, chord structures and progressions. It’s mainly in C major/A minor and something that I hope my students can do themselves as they explore chord theory as part of their lessons and practice.
It takes practice of course; the more students experiment and explore chords, patterns and accompaniments within the framework of the Circle of 5ths, the better their ear will be and the more they’ll be able to call on ideas and progressions that work in the future.
To me, improvising is one of the most musical activities that any student can do on the piano. It develops all aspects of playing and listening and is a really enjoyable way to spend time at the keyboard without the pressure of reading or ‘getting anything right’.
If you’d like to read more, here are some of my other posts about composing/improvising:
Chord progressions for beginners
Using 12 bar blues to inspire beginners
Strategies for teaching improvisation to beginners
Using ‘sus’ chords to inspire beginners
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.