It seems like every day I hear a piano student play a wonderful improvisation and then say something like “Sorry that wasn’t better” or “I’m really not good at improvising.”
As the one listening to them play, this always takes me by surprise (although you’d think I’d be used to it by now!). It’s just part of human nature, I guess, but it’s striking how wide a gulf there is between their actual talent/ability and their perception of it. It’s like a soccer player kicking the ball 30 yards into the goal and then saying how bad a kicker they are!
Of course I then tell the student how much I enjoyed their playing. And even more importantly, how much I enjoyed seeing them play at that moment, as a culmination (so far) of their life’s experience at the piano. It’s a great moment for me, and hope each of them gradually learns to enjoy it fully as well.
This morning I was reminded that Winnie-The-Pooh said much the same thing. Actually, it was his friend, Christopher Robin saying it to him. Here’s the clip from the Disney film:
There’s a lot going on in this scene. Did you notice how at first Christopher Robin is the one who is doubtful and unsure, but at some point their roles are reversed as Christopher Robin ends up reassuring Pooh? I’ve often wondered if author A.A. Milne intended Pooh to do this on purpose or if it was just something about the character’s close bond that brought this about. Either way, it’s a great scene which culminates with Christopher Robin uttering those now-immortal words:
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think.”
For pianists, I think Christopher Robin would say:
“You’re more talented than you believe, more confident than you seem, better than you think.”
Now if I could only get you to believe that!!!
Here are 10 Ways To Develop Your Piano Improv Skills. Have fun!
Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration