“When words fail, Music speaks. ”

Five Reasons to Start Noodling Around Today

Published: Sep 16, 2020  |   Category: Uncategorized


“Noodling” around on the piano and singing made-up songs to my Barbie dolls envelopes my childhood memories like a warm blanket. My small kindergarten fingers would brush the antique ivory keys with confidence and ease as every noodling melody seemed to echo powerfully across the room… at least in my little-girl realm of comprehension.  Today, as a “grown-up,” those noodling skills comprise much of the essence of how I succeed as a pianist and musician in general.

HOW DOES NOODLING IMPROVE YOUR OVERALL MUSICIANSHIP SKILLS?  

DEVELOPS YOUR IMPROVISATION SKILLS.

A common definition for improvisation sounds something like “the art or act of… composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation.”  Improvisation is often called “spontaneous composition.” Many tend to think that improvisation in music is reserved for the jazz genre… and that is utter nonsense! Chopin, for example, was one of the best improvisors of his era, and he never performed his Nocturnes the same way each time.  Improvisation continues to reside in folk music, easy listening, sacred, gospel, spiritual, pop, music theater, country, and just about any genre! If you don’t know where to start when it comes to developing your improvisation skills, begin on the black keys as they comprise the PENTATONIC SCALE TONES… the most harmonically integrative group of notes. A few tunes that can be played solely using the black keys include

  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot
  • Amazing Grace
  • My Girl
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm
  • Ring Around the Rosie
  • Rain, Rain Go Away
  • Stairway to Heaven

EXPANDS YOUR ACCOMPANIMENT ABILITIES.

Accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists often demands the need to noodle or doodle…aka … improvise on the spot in a musical way.  In addition to good sight-reading skills, a good piano accompanist can help cover a singer’s memory lapse with the art of noodling and doodling. After all, it is an accompanist’s job to make a performer’s musical journey as lovely and smooth as possible.  Adding variety in the accompaniment for different verses of songs also can amplify a singer’s emotional communication of their song to the audience. Plus… I promise that vocalists and audiences don’t necessarily enjoy hearing every single verse of Hallelujah played the exact same way (Alas!). This same idea can apply to church hymns and other repetitive accompaniment needs. Help the singer…help the listeners… help yourself!… by adding variety to verses and interludes by noodling a bit!

CREATES YOUR OWN UNIQUE MUSICAL STAMP

As you explore you abilities to noodle, you will soon find you have a personalized and unique quality to your doodle.  This is what I like to call a “Musical Stamp.” Every musician has one! Copying someone else’s musical stamp may inspire yours, but ultimately it’s going to take your own improvising practice and exploring to discover that stamp in the first place. If you are strictly a Classical pianist, start exploring Chopin’s Nocturnes to see where you can print your Musical Stamp on his work. It is much more doable than trying to improvise on a Mozart Sonata.

HELPS YOU TO GO WITH THE FLOW OF LIFE.

The only unchangeable in your life is change! It is inevitable! Yet change seems to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome from birth and on into death.  When you start exploring spontaneous creativity … i.e. musically noodling… , you create a web between your left and right brain, weaving your rational mind to your creative mind and back. These networks are not limited to the scope of music! When life throws you a curve ball, you better believe that your ability to intertwine intellectual rationale with emotional intuition will help you through! The creativity of noodling and improvising enhances problem-solving skills and stress-management abilities in so many ways!

OPENS UP MORE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND YOUR MUSIC CAREER.

As someone great once said, “Every gig is an audition for another gig.” Someone is listening to your performance.  Whether it’s 5 people or 500 people, every gig matters! If you’re trying to gain more opportunity in the music field, you better believe that your ability to noodle, play flexibly with other musicians, and roll with other performers’ punches will be noticed by the right people, and it will absolutely HELP you expand your performance palette in so many ways!

In closing:

Start noodling! Stop merely reading notes on paper, and begin a new musical endeavor of bringing your own flair to music! Start expanding your musical abilities with the important skill of noodling… doodling… improvising… whatever you want to call it. Oh… and parents of young children, stop forcing your young creative child to practice TOO rigidly and strictly at such a young age; you never know what natural talent may reside within that they are just beginning to explore!

More Interesting Reads on this Topic: 

“Why Improvisation Should Be Part of Every Young Musician’s Training”

“Improvising”



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