February 03, 2015 by Tony Lee
In the 1st Part of New Year’s Resolutions from a Pianist, I discussed serving the music, serving the setting, and serving the moment.
In the 2nd Part of New Year’s Resolutions from a Pianist, I discussed playing with authenticity, playing what I know, taking risks, and creating space in my playing.
This is the third in a three part series about taking steps to grow as a pianist in 2015. Honestly, this might be my favorite part of the series, because it taps into the creative preferences and leanings that you and I have and how to incorporate them into our music this year.
This year I resolve to discover my signature.
This might be my favorite resolution, and truly, it builds on all the others leading up to it. When people hear me play, I want there to be something distinct that makes them think, “Oh, that’s Kate playing.” This also might be the most aesthetic resolution. Here’s how I plan to discover and develop my signature:
Mentally bookmark or write down what I like when I listen to music. This might be related to pitch, rhythm, or phrasing. For instance, I’ve always loved the use of octaves. I also love chromatic movement that pushes on the notes hard in your ears. Maybe it’s the groove of a certain artist or the rhythm of a particular lick. Bookmark it.
After isolating something artistic that I love, try to find moments and phrases where I can incorporate these elements. Experiment with different contexts in which they might work well.
Wait patiently for the moment to place my musical signature and be careful not to sign everything everywhere. In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, “If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.” Be careful not to become an over-eager graffiti artist with the musical signature that is discovered and honed. I resolve to use my musical signature tastefully and with distinction—not covering up the work of others, but authentically being present as a unique player.
This year I resolve to set weekly, monthly, and yearly musical goals.
One of the other Freeway teachers actually inspired this as a resolution. If you commit to learning from everyone around you, there will always be a wealth of amazing knowledge “foods” in your “pantry.” Guitar instructor Jmichael Peeples does this magnificently. When you walk into his practice space there are white boards and lists everywhere—they outline everything from the tunes he’s working on day to day, to the goals for skills he is wanting to achieve, to his target gigs. I’ve started keeping a running list of my weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. If you ask me how I’m doing with them, I’ll share them—and ask you back!
Thanks for trekking with me through this three-part series! Here’s to resolutions and new musical growth in 2015!