The Beauty of Improvisation

I have become a beginner again. I have been unable to play the piano for many months, so I am learning to play a beautiful lap harp. (It’s called a Reverie Harp.)

But I am not actually “learning to play”— I am “playing to learn.”

I am just improvising and, in doing so, quickly developing the kind of intuitive, creative relationship with this harp that I already have with the piano.

I am not trying to learn familiar melodies or play pieces or even learn scales or chords—I will likely do all that later, but not yet, not now. At this stage, I am only PLAYING like a child for about a half-hour at a time, fingerpainting with sounds. Listening and responding and listening some more. Discovering Patterns I like and then improvising with them in the same manner that I teach others to improvise at the piano.

So, how is it going?

I have already been regularly experiencing the incredible beauty of making music. I am struck by how the Pattern Play approach (also used in the Create First books) allows me to quickly develop an intuitive relationship with a new instrument, and have rich musical conversations from the very beginning.

I can hardly wait to play my harp when I wake up in the morning—it makes such resonant, evocative, beautiful sounds! That strong desire will sustain me and inspire me as I continue to play and learn.

Isn’t beauty what we crave when making music?

Beauty is not something we “earn” after years of practice. We can experience it all along the way if only we are willing to be like children and explore freely. Beauty is what nourishes us at every step on the journey, and encourages us to develop a lasting, creative relationship with an instrument.  

I have found musical beauty once again through improvisation, and I am so grateful that I can love playing the harp as much as the piano—even though I am merely a beginner.

It’s all in the approach: playing to learning rather than learning to play.