I’m Robert Estrin from Livingpianos.com. Today’s topic is, “Reinventing Yourself as a Musician”. You may wonder what I am talking about. In life, not just in music, there’s an illusion that you can have total stability. Of course this is impossible. Everything around you is constantly changing. Even things that appear consistent are in a constant state of flux.
Each performance is unique.
Let’s say for example you perform a piece and it goes exactly the way you want it to. The next time you perform that piece, can you recreate the performance? Even though you’ve done it once before, it’s never going to be the same. You’ll never be able to perfectly recreate that performance, any more than you could recreate a conversation you had with someone. After you have a great performance, you are in a different mental state about that piece. You’ve experienced something new that adds to your repertoire of performances. If you start chasing things you’ve done in the past, you’ll never move forward. You will never reach the same heights as before by trying to imitate something you have done in the past.
How can you reinvent yourself musically?
Studying music that you’ve never played before is a tremendous way to enrich yourself. It can add to your musicianship and help you to see things in a different light. Learning a new piece of music not only offers you the possibility of playing new repertoire, but it can also change your outlook on pieces you’ve previously studied. For example, if you’ve studied several early pieces of Beethoven, and you venture into a later piece of Beethoven, you might have a better understanding of Beethoven and how his mind worked.
You might even delve into a completely new style of music.
Maybe you’ve never played jazz before, and you start learning some jazz! If you go back to your classical pieces, you will find similarities. For example, a cadenza in the G-minor Ballad of Chopin is not dissimilar from a jazz riff of something improvised. We can think of these little cadenza passages as what Chopin might have done while improvising. It’s more spontaneous and can give us a glimpse as to how Chopin played the piano.
Each instrument can show you something new
If you’ve been practicing on the same piano all the time, and then you have an opportunity to play a nicer instrument, it can change your whole outlook on music. The sounds are different, the touch is different. Your connection is different! Having different instruments to play on is unbelievably valuable. For pianists this is especially true because you generally can’t bring your personal piano with you to performances. With Living Pianos, I’ve had the opportunity to play so many great pianos, which has helped me to grow as a musician.
You must reinvent yourself as a musician all the time.
I remember my father, Morton Estrin, would always learn new pieces his entire life. Into his eighties, he was learning mammoth new works, and when he would see colleagues from years ago performing “the same program they played when they were at Julliard 25 years ago” he had no patience for that. Musicians who keep recycling the same music over and over again oftentimes stop growing. It’s important to expand your repertoire and your playing experiences. If you’ve always played recitals, maybe do chamber music. If you’ve rarely performed solo recitals, maybe you’ve done concertos a great deal, then you should try solo performing or something completely different. Always expand your outlook. It’ll keep you fresh. It keeps your music compelling, and it’s the secret to growth, not only as a musician, but in every aspect of life. You must give yourself new experiences all the time in order to keep life fresh and vibrant.
I hope this has been a good lesson for you! I’d love to hear from you, and how you feel about your music and reinventing yourself. Is this something you have done, and how has it worked for you? I’m Robert Estrin at Livingpianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.