Creating your own songs II

Have you ever wanted to create your own unique piano songs? Just simple pieces that express how you feel? You can if you learn how to improvise first and then learn how to compose. Here’s why.

Improvising allows you to express what you feel without constraint. In essence, it’s like freewriting because the goal is to free your unique voice without worry of right or wrong, good or bad. It is a skill that students should learn once they’ve got the fundamentals down, and is foundational for further success at composing. Once you are able to sit down at the piano and can trust your intuition to guide you, you’re ready to compose.

Composition is really just slowed down improvisation. You take the initial inspirational gem you’ve discovered through improv and flesh it out using the tools of repetition and contrast. For example, in the lesson “Waiting for Spring,” we learn how to create a simple ABA form in the Key of C.

The key here is that we already know the piece will be an ABA form so how do we proceed? Easily! The way I do it is I write out the first 8-bars and then improvise to see what will come up. Once I’m onto something, I write out the first 2-bars of the melody so I can remember it. Then I use chords from the Key of C Major to finish the first 8-bars; my (A) section. Another 8-bars or so for my (B) section and I’m done! The arrangement of this easy piano song usually works itself out to play the (A) section twice, (B) section once, back to the (A) section and you’re done. Most of the time, this comes out to about 2-3 minutes of music.

The important thing for creating your own piano songs is that you must be able to move forward and complete sections of music. This is best accomplished when you can improvise freely first!

Give it a go and let us know how you get on and what you come up with.

The Team!

Creating your own songs

I assume that as a piano learner you have wondered how you can create your own songs? If you have, you’ll know how frustrating this can be, but don’t worry, it’s completely normal.

Getting creative and coming up with song ideas is not an easy thing. A lot of internal and also external factors are involved when creating your own songs: knowledge of your instrument, music theory, a good ear, creativity, music styles and so on…

I don’t want to bring you down, but knowledge of your instrument and basic theory IS A MUST, unless you are a natural born musical genius. Simply knowing your chords and how they go together will mean you can compose songs with very simple chords, very simple melodies and rhythms. It depends a little on what you’re into and what type of music you want to create.

I have heard some songs that are very basic and very simple yet beautiful; with only 3 chords you can create some magic, but that is when creativity comes into play. How can you put those 3 chords in such a way that they sound nice, non repetitive and with a lot of feeling?

So you’ve got a good enough knowledge of the piano, what’s next? I would say that inspiration is the next big thing to get. You can find inspiration in everyday life, what is happening around you, what is happening to people you know or how you feel about things. For me, the most powerful source of inspiration is music. While listening to someone else’s music I often come up with ideas to work on – I am not talking about ripping off someone’s idea, but rather being inspired by their ideas.

A VERY IMPORTANT thing is to keep an open mind. Don’t just listen to your favorite artist or music style, listen to lots of different styles of music – those you are drawn to as well as those you wouldn’t normally gravitate to. I can guarantee you will find lots of inspiration by doing this.

Another very important thing mentioned by Dan from the Rocket Piano team is to develop your musicianship. New skills are like doorways to new songs. Many times you will learn a new technique and a whole song can be built around that. For this reason, always be on the lookout for new skills and ideas. A great way to pick up the new skills is to learn from other musicians. When you see one of your musician friends playing something interesting try and learn it.

Again, becoming proficient with your instrument will make it a lot simpler to think of good ideas for your songs. Melodies come from within and they don’t have to be complex. When you are singing to yourself in the shower remember that even the simplest three note melody has the potential to become a great song.

We really hope this helps and be patient, creativity will flow sometime!