What We Learn from Our Instruments

As musicians we should be more like the instruments we play.

I recently watched Note by Note, the documentary about the Steinway Piano  Company. It’s available on Netflix and I urge you to seek it out. The film takes you step by step through the whole process of creating these amazing pianos, works of art in their own right. You also see several interviews from pianists of all stripes—from classical to popular—and hear exactly how these pianos shape the way they make music.

I found it astonishing that the way these pianos are constructed has not changed in more than 150 years of production. And then I thought about how much music has changed in that same amount of time.

The piano (and all instruments) has seen many changes in music—of style and method—yet these instruments all still make sound as they always have. The piano does not care whether it plays Bach or bebop; whether it is wielded by a renowned concert pianist, a pop singer, or a five-year-old beginner; if it is glorified in Carnegie Hall, slightly abused in a bar, or used as a tool to teach. The piano strives for one thing only—to make music, of any kind.

As the musicians who strum the guitars, play the pianos, and oom-pah the tubas, we could all take a lesson from our instruments. Concern yourself less with what you are playing and decide instead that you will play musically every time you pick up your instrument.

I’ll see you in the practice room!

Tweet: As musicians we should be more like the instruments we play.

Tweet: The piano strives for one thing only–to make music.

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