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what does it mean to "make music"


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im a complete beginner


ive been pointed to Chuan Chang\'s book and have done some searches on various forums


he seems to focus on getting the student to the place of 'making music' as quickly as possible, without all the hangups of the repetition of techniques. in discussions people saying that you need to understand a piece "musically" first to truly learn how to play it.


i was under the impression that you get some sheet music, learn and memorize the sequence of keys to press, and voila! you can play the piece. obviously im mistaken? :)

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What does it mean to "make music"?

For me, it means to have a piece of music sufficiently practiced so as to be able to play it unconsciously (this is also true of having a style of improvisation solidly internalized).

When I am "making music", I have the sensation that the music is literally flowing THROUGH ME, that I am not the creator of the music, but rather a conduit through which the music is given life. Making music is more than just the mechanical process of fingers to keys in proper time, it means to allow the music to express the emotion that is inherent within it. To do this, I must be able to focus my ATTENTION ON THE MUSIC, not the mechanics.

As far as "hangups of the repetion of techniques", I agree that it is not necessary to have a superior technique to "make music". However, taking the time to develop one's technique allows for greater expression, ornamental facility, and the ability to tackle bigger tunes or ideas.

Bottom line- JUST START PLAYING! KEEP PLAYING! I have been playing for 28+ years, and I remain a STUDENT OF MUSIC and the PIANOFORTE. PLAY!!!

Never try to play anything live.
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First - Do you like music or better yet love it?


Second - Are you able to make the kind of music you love?


If not, you need help. Help comes from knowledge, awareness, exposure and training. Some of it may involve a teacher. Just as you couldn't drive a car by following the steps in an instruction manual, you may need some help learning an instrument.


Do a search on this site for related keywords, and you'll see a variety of perspectives ranging from

"sure you can teach yourself" to "get thee to a music school". Read and enjoy the many perspectives in this community. Then consider ...


Like most enriching life experiences, your experience of making music will be a function of what you put into it. All the best. And welcome to the forum.



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A few thoughts :


The concept of "making music as fast as possible" is OK in terms of giving a certain degree of gratification to the beginning student. But one can't get away from the "repetition of techniques", just like a goalie needs to repeat the same moves and tricks over and over in front of his net in order to become good.


But there is much more than pure technical stuff. To me, music is first of all an emotional language. So to "learn a sequence of keys to press" in order to play a piece is only the first process.


It mainly depends what style you want to work on. I've worked with excellent "musical technicians" and also what I personally refer to as "true musicians". And there is a demand for many different musical styles.


You can also learn/switch from one style or musical dialect to another with the years. One life is not enough. :)

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Playing music as opposed to playing notes.


The difference, (IMO), is emotion. Music, to me, is emotion transported by way of sound.


ANYBODY can learn to play "Chopsticks" on the piano. But does that mean they're playing "music?" Not really.


READING music can probably be properly described as the ability to view the symbols on paper and play the notes that they correspond to. But, to me, without emotional content, one still isn't actually playing music.


In my own life, I would say that the first 5 years I studied piano, I was very adept at playing the notes. But it was somewhere during that 5th or 6th year of lessons where I finally "got it", and actually started playing music.


Scales and exercises are designed to help develop the manual dexterity to become capable of playing music. If one doesn't have the physical control over one's muscles to get them to respond to your thoughts, then playing music will remain a pipe dream forever.


But, in the end, the only reason scales and exercises aren't considered "music", is because they aren't intended to evoke or be infused by any emotional aspects.


In point of fact, the Christmas hymn, "Joy to the World" starts off with a simple C major scale.


Many classical pieces were in point of fact exercises, which were written specifically as a means to strengthen specific aspects of playing technique, (etudes, for example). Many of them are considered beautiful pieces of music, because they became more than simple technical exercises.


The problem with "quick fix" methods is that it takes CONTROL to be able to be a conduit for the emotion that music conveys. And the physical control takes TIME and PRACTICE and REPETITION to acquire.


There's certainly validity to the concept that allowing a student to work with musical selections that already contain positive emotional content for them specifically helps keep them interested. But, there really isn't a short-cut to developing the physical skill and control needed to actually make and play music.


Scales, exercises, et al, may well be the FASTEST route to building those skills. But they may also be the most boring routes to acquiring those skills. So, there are lots of ideas out there of "better" ways of teaching.


In the end, it mostly boils down to a balance -- how do you build the technical and physical skills as quickly as possible without boring the student into quitting? Each student is different, so where that balance happens to be changes in every case, (which is why there isn't one end-all, be-all method for teaching piano).

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What Mr. Chuang is saying is actually fairly simple: he doesn't like scales and exercises, and favors learning technique instead from Bach's 2-part inventions.


If you're a beginner you're better off letting your teacher be the judge than Mr. Chuang, who most likely none of us would have ever heard of had his book not been free on the internet :)

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Nothing wrong with practicing scales and exercises per se, but certainly if that's ALL you play, that's all you'll be ABLE to play!


What we guitarists sometimes find ourselves doing is running through scales etc. while watching TV.

The strictly mechanical stuff. Which may or may not be a good idea!

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