The more you listen to the groove, the less superfluous notes you’ll play.

Picture yourself having dinner with 5 incredibly interesting people. People whose company you enjoy and who share the same interests as you.

Question: What do you do when they say something fascinating?

Answer: You listen.

Yes, you listen. You listen with rapt attention, hanging onto every word they say. And then, when it’s appropriate, you say something too and they listen to you.

My point here is that we don’t have dinner with Einstein and spend the whole time talking, right? That would be a waste of time. Instead, we ask questions, listen, and speak in a way that keeps the conversation going.

Playing piano is the same way.

Many (most) improvising pianists play too many notes. While it’s sometimes very effective to play lots of notes, it often doesn’t reflect what we really want to say through our music. It’s like going into a dinner party and talking non-stop for 4 hours.

On the other hand, many pianists find it challenging to all of a sudden play less notes. They feel like something is missing, and they don’t trust the space between phrases.

The remedy is to listen to the groove. That way it becomes a positive activity, by adding more awareness of the groove, and not the negating activity of leaving out notes. Something will be added (the groove), as opposed to being left out (extra notes).

The more you listen to the groove, the less superfluous notes you’ll play. Give it a try. It might make all the difference in your playing.

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