One of the best feelings in the world for me is when I see a "classical" pianist begin to experience the joy of improvisation for the first time. It's no exaggeration to say that my heart leaps for joy when someone gets off the written page for the first time and starts making up their own music, rather than only recreating what someone else has written down. This is a moment to be celebrated. It's like the ice is beginning to melt!
In theory there shouldn't be any distinction between "classical" and "improvising" pianist," but they are often mutually exclusive. This is unfortunate. (Can you imagine only saying words that someone else wrote down for you? I hope not!) I love classical music as much as anyone else, and play it every day. The great composers will lead us on journeys that we might not go on if left to our own devices (same as Shakespeare). But is that all there is to life? Don't you have something of your own to say? Of course you do! And BTW, Bach thought so too. He taught his students to improvise their own keyboard music and to interpret written music in a personal way.
Sometimes we need a little help getting started improvising. We can feel how great it will once we learn how to do it, but we're a bit timid about how our first attempts might sound. But here's what you can do to get over this shyness: To get started improvising and feeling more musical freedom that you've ever imagined, simply make a commitment to try it for a month. No matter how shy you are about playing notes that aren't on the written page, promise yourself that you will try it for a full month. If you start now, all this will seem like "ancient history" after just a few weeks. Have fun!
If you've always imagined yourself improvising but don't know how to get started, you can try my piano improv video course for free for 5 days. Beginners welcome 🙂