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To Compose Music, First Learn To Improvise

Aug 17, 2007
One of the greatest motivators of learning to play an instrument for most people is the thought of being able to compose their own music, to take their talent to a new level, and use their music to express their inner feelings. The first step to take to learn how to compose your own music is to learn the art of improvising. The good news is that it isn't as hard as you think.

The sad thing about learning improvisation, is that many people put a lot of emphasis on the fact that they must first learn to master chords, notes, read music, and be able to play other peoples music well, before they can get onto the more important task of creating their own masterpieces. The result of these thoughts usually ends with the person becoming so caught up in getting everything right that they feel afraid to improvise, and compose simply because they fear getting it wrong, or creating something that sounds terrible.

Why Improvisation Is Important

Improvisation is vital to a musician, because it is a lesson taught in creativity, and it develops an ear for hearing music on a whole new level, and copying it. For those who want to learn to compose, creativity is the most important aspect of being a composer, it is even more important than knowing keys, notes, chords, or even reading music itself.

Improvisation at its greatest can be found in jazz music. If you want to learn about improvisation, be sure to listen to some of the classic jazz. Jazz is the type of music that was mostly improvised, and added to. It was rarely played to a set out strict music sheet, but evolved as it was being played, and only got better each time the musician played it.

How To Improvise

Improvisation is nothing more than experimentation, and creativity. We all have those two things. Don't be fooled into thinking that, in order to improvise, you must first know all of the chords, or notes used to play your instrument. Improvisation can be started off as early as when you have learned your first couple of notes, or chords.

The best way to use improvisation is to experiment with the chords or notes as you are learning them. If you are taking lessons, use some your practice time to try out different chord, or note combinations. Try anything you like, experiment. Improvisation is all about learning the art of non-conformity to the average style of music, and how to learn to use your creative talents to make an expression of yourself.

How To Deal With The Internal Critic

Everyone's a critic, but we are our own worst critic. Most people are afraid to try new and different things simply because they are afraid to fail. The first time that you improvise, you will probably sound terrible, and maybe even the second time, too. This isn't failing, this is learning. As you get better at playing your instrument, you will also get better at improvising. If you start off learning how to improvise early, you will only get better at it as you learn more chords, or notes. By starting to improvise early on, you will never be concerned about when the right time to start improvising is, simply because right now is the best time to start.

Don't be afraid of what other people will think, either. If you are afraid of someone criticizing your first attempts at improvising, just play your instrument when nobody is around, until you are more confident, and ready to share your music with others.

Taking Improvisation Into A Musical Composition

Once you have mastered improvisation, it is only a small step to take it to the next level, which is creating music of your own. Once again, composing music is a lot like improvisation, and to master it you need to be creative, and understand that it may not sound perfect at first. But with a little creativity and some tweaking, you have the potential to make the music in your head come to life through your instrument.

Conclusion

Composing is nothing more than letting yourself be creative, and letting that creativity to make your music unique. You don't have to be able to play as well as Mozart to start to improvise, and from there begin to compose music. Mozart started out just like you, improvising, learning, and then composing. So let your creative talents flow, and remember that you don't have to get it right every time. But you do have to want to succeed.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of musicianhome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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