Unveiling Creative Chords at the MTNA conferenceOne fun and important area of playing and teaching music that sometimes gets overlooked is creativity. While most of us would agree that improvising, composing, arranging, and playing by ear are necessary ingredients for developing comprehensive musicianship, somehow we don’t get around to learning or teaching these skills as much as we’d like.


Here’s a an easy way to start down the road toward personalizing music with touches of improvisation.


Same and Different


1. Start with an easy and familiar tune like this one.








2. Same Rhythm/Different Notes


Now it’s time to get creative. Keep the rhythm in the measures with rhythmic notation but play different notes than the original.






3. New Rhythm/New Notes


Next explore rhythmic possibilities such as those below to prime your creative pump (or make up your own).





Finally, play the tune again varying both the notes and rhythm in the measure with slashes.






Watch another example of this creative concept in action:


Note to teachers: Notice how universal music skills such as keeping a steady beat, subdividing, and playing within a key are all reinforced even by an improvisation this simple. Here’s an even more surprising benefit: Easy improvisations like this enhance your student’s interpretation of written music. That’s because rather than merely reproducing the notes on the page, creative musicians come to understand how they came to be there in the first place.

Until next time, enjoy your creative music-making journey,


Published on bradleysowash.com, April 01, 2017, Copyright © 2017 Bradley Sowash 


An accomplished composer, educator, critically-acclaimed recording artist of seven CDs, and concert jazz pianist, Bradley Sowash has delighted listeners of all ages in concert halls and churches throughout the United States and Europe for over two decades. His emotional style and formidable technique have prompted favorable reviews in national publications including The Village Voice’s comment that "Sowash's music powerfully conjures the moods." Known for his instant audience rapport, Billboard Magazine declared "He can really move an audience along with zest and wit." His music has received national airplay including on NPR "Morning Edition." Mr. Sowash continues to be a regular guest on the PBS series, "The Piano Guy".