Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ray Charles: Piano Love

Believe it or not, a piano is just like a human being. In any healthy relationship with you have with another person, you always have to find a balance between being firm and knowing when to back down. I'm finding more and more that playing piano is very similar. All of the great piano players that I've heard have this balance between firmness and flexibility down to an art.

The other thing I've noticed about people who play piano very well is that they don't just play with their fingers. They play with their entire bodies. No, I don't mean that they play the piano with their elbows, their heads, or any other odd combination of body parts. What I mean is they don't just sit there like they're having a tea party. They move with the piano, flow with it, and put physical energy into the notes they play.

The best example I can give you is Ray Charles, one of my own personal idols. Ray is a great example because event though he couldn't see, DAMN could he feel. Check out this video and you will understand exactly what I mean. 

The sound quality on this particular video isn't great, but the visual really represents the idea that I'm referring to. Ray Charles was someone who had a deep connection with the piano as if it were a person. When you watch this video, you can see how he really moves with the music, feels the subtleties, and puts his entire body and soul into what he is playing. I get chills just watching this, and I can only hope that one day I will develop these skills to such a degree . I think the most important thing to observe here is that Ray looks completely relaxed, as if he's jamming out in his living room rather than playing in front of millions of people. It's like he's not thinking at all. Food for thought: Maybe the key to being a good musician is to stop thinking so hard?!

"Master your instrument, master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play." -Charlie Parker

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