Classical pianists wanting to explore improvisation are usually advised to study jazz. But couldn’t they learn in the classical style? This session will offer a fun and systematic approach to improvisation for the classical pianist.
Brian Chung is Senior Vice President of Kawai America Corporation. With a diverse career that includes experience as a performer, arranger, teacher, author, conference speaker and music industry executive, he is devoted to the cause of advancing music participation across America.
The process of learning to talk is very similar to that of learning to improvise. In both disciplines, the learning process begins with the desire to say something personal and meaningful. This is the heart of improvisation. Learning to improvise is not just the acquisition of formulas that help a player add more notes to a melody or add a flourish here and there. While it will allow the player to do these things, it is really much deeper. Learning to improvise is the process of acquiring tools that will allow the player say something musically in one’s own words.
Everyone improvises to some degree. Whistling a new melody while doing a chore or humming a slightly different rendition of a familiar tune are examples of improvisation. But the concept is still quite “foreign” to many players, even to expert musicians. It is often frustrating for some to be so highly skilled as interpreters of classical music, but so limited as improvisers. Why is it so difficult? It is because classical musicians have exercised a particular set of mental “muscles” in the traditional school. Improvising requires the development of different mental muscles. Once these new muscles are sufficiently exercised, new abilities appear that will dovetail with one’s existing skills.
Brian Chung Biography:
Brian Chung is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Kawai America Corporation. He is a two-term president of the Piano Manufacturers Association Interna-tional, a former Chair of the Board of Trustees for MTNA Foundation, a 2004 MTNA Foundation Fellow, a past member of the Board of Directors for NAMM (the International Music Products Association), co-author of Improvisation at the Piano: A Systematic Approach for the Classically Trained Pianist (Alfred Publishing 2007) and author of Expressions of Faith: Eight Inventive Explorations of Classic Hymns for Solo Piano (Alfred Publishing 2008).
Mr. Chung has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, where he combined his musical and business interests. In addition to performing in the top jazz band at Michigan, he spent summers as a pianist and musical director at Walt Disney World. After college, he traveled to London, England to study piano and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a Rotary Foundation Scholar. Upon his return to the States, he was privileged to pursue jazz studies as the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.
After several years as a professional musician and independent piano teacher, he continued his business education by completing a Master of Management Degree at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. His business pursuits eventually led him to Kawai America Corporation, where he has spent the past twenty years.
With a diverse career that includes experience as a performer, teacher, arranger, author, conference speaker and music industry executive, Mr. Chung is devoted to the cause of advancing music participation across America.