The 2010s have been a wonderful decade for we pianists. Here are some of the trends we’ve seen over the past 10 years:
Simplicity triumphed. The basic quarter-note chordal pop piano part was introduced the 1960s, gained momentum in the 200s, and became firmly established over the past decade. It’s the great “leveler,” since beginners and professionals can both use it when playing anything from “Over The Rainbow” to the latest hits.
A Golden Age for Solo Piano Accompaniment
In the “old days,” we’d get a popular song accompanied by a lone piano maybe once per decade (Sinatra: One For My Baby” Irene Cara: “Out Here On My Own.”). Nowadays, we hear them on the pop charts all the time, from artists as diverse as Adele, Justin Beiber, and even Nicki Minaj. We’re living in a Golden Age for solo piano accompaniment. Who needs drums!!!???
Classical Piano Improv
Thanks to trail blazers like Mozart improv expert Robert Levin, classical pianists are rediscovering the joy of improvisation, after it’s lay dormant for 150 years or so.
The Merging of Pop and Classical
Pop chord progressions plus classical pianistic textures can be a winning combination, as evidenced by the music of The Piano Guys, and hundreds if not thousands of lesser-known pianist/composers such as Bzur (check out his music).
Jazz is influencing everything
From Ethan Iverson and The Bad Plus to Kanye West, the Jazz Improv sensibility is influencing the creation of rock, hip hop, and many other forms of music in more ways than ever before.
Learning via Skype
When I first began teaching piano via Skype, in 2012, most people had never used the platform at all. In the eight years since then it’s become commonplace, for lessons and interactions of all kinds. I’ll teach a 10-year old beginner in Indonesia, a 70-year old retiree in Ireland, and a 25-year old professional pianist in Spain, all in a single day!
Identifying the overall trends
Basically, “anything goes!” Pianists all over the world are pursuing their musical passion on their own terms, with access to world-class instruction right at their fingertips. If you love both Chopin and Adele, there are plenty of role models to inspire you. If you play bebop and want to connect with the folk music of your ancestors, you’ll find plenty of jazzers already playing lively improvisations on folk music of all sorts. And if you’ve always wanted to develop the piano improv skills you know you have, you can easily find the right teacher for you.
Yes, it’s been an amazing decade for us pianists. Let’s see what the next 10 years will bring!!!