As many music fans saw on his Instagram feed, Justin Bieber sat down at a hotel lobby piano and played a few songs: Drake’s “Hotline Bling“ and Rihanna’s “Work.” He then released brief clips of his performances which immediately went viral. Fan reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with people gushing about how “beautiful” he plays and so on.
You can see and hear the clips HERE.
As frequent readers of this blog may know, I’m actually a big fan of Mr. Beiber’s musicianship and I think he’s a very good pianist. And I think there IS a big, positive message we can take away from his Instagram clips. But that message isn’t how “beautiful” he was playing.
If you listen closely to the videos, you’ll hear that, in fact, he wasn’t really playing that well at all. But this isn’t meant to be negative, it’s just the reality. He may have been travelling, tired, and just sat down to have get some enjoyment for himself by playing the piano (there doesn’t seem to be anyone listening to him in the hotel lobby). He’s just having some fun, without trying to impress anyone or play his “best.”
That is the real point here. He doesn’t have to sound “great!” He’s just playing the melody with his right hand and improvising with a few chord tones in his left hand. No smooth technique. No intricate rhythms. No elaborate keyboard textures. Not even a beautiful tone (despite what the article I linked to above says!).
But he’s playing. He knows his chords and over the years has developed an ease at the piano which enables him to sit down and effortlessly play a few songs he enjoys. Without stress. Without having to learn everything all over again. Simply playing piano, at the level he’s at on any particular day.
Sure, he’d have to get back into a practice routine if he wants to do something more complex. But that’s not my point today. There are too many pianists in the world who constantly feel they aren’t “good enough.” They’re missing out on lots of fun because they don’t let themselves do what Justin Bieber did in that empty hotel lobby: Simply sitting down at the piano and having fun.
Do yourself a favor. Become so fluent in using the basic chords and a few simple accompaniment techniques that you can just sit down at any piano, wherever you are and at any time, and simply have fun.
It’s easier than you think!