5 things we pianists can learn from Bruce Springsteen

I’ve been thinking about Bruce Springsteen a lot lately. His intimate show, Springsteen on Broadway has been running at The Walter Kerr Theatre for about a year now, and while I haven’t seen it myself, I sent my kids instead (there’s a 2-ticket limit). Springsteen is the “real deal,” and has a lot to teach us pianists. Here are 5 specific “takeaways” from The Boss:

1. Play with a steady group of musicians

The E Street Band has been together, more or less intact, since the early 1970s. Something special builds up gradually over time when we play with the same musicians for long periods of time. Miles David knew this too, as does Elton John. This is something we can all do with our group of musical peers.

2. Tell stories

People love hearing story songs, and they bring out something powerful in us as performers as well. The stories can be in the lyrics or in the music itself. Beethoven knew this, as did the old jazz musicians too. And nobody tells a story better than The Boss. And again, we can all do this in our own way.

3. Give 200% effort at all times

Hardly anyone does this, but the greats do. The secret is to connect the act of playing music with your life’s meaning.

4. Go deep without regret

Even if he’s just playing a C major chord, Springsteen goes deep. Do you?

5. Persevere

Like all of us, Springsteen’s life and career has had its share of ups and downs. But where most people get discouraged and give up, Springsteen has kept going and persevered. It doesn’t matter how talented we think we are (or not), or how famous we are (or not). We can keep going too, right?

While writing these 5 points out, it occurs to me how obvious they are. But then why don’t we all do them? That’s the big question.

Take some time to reflect on each of Springsteen’s characteristics here, and see how you can do the same. Your music may sound very different than his, and your stories may not be about working-class heroes. But you have stories to tell through your music or you wouldn‘t be reading this. Find musicians to work with, tell your stories, give 200% effort at all times, go deep without regret, and above all, persevere. And while we’re at it, we can both thank people like Bruce Springsteen for being there are inspiration for us.

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”


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