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Become the great keyboard player, not keyboard operator

Mizue Murakami

2 synthesizers on the stage

There are two types of keyboard (music, not typing) players. One is who can play well with fewer patches (sound sources). The other one is who can make what he/she is playing very nice with sophisticated sound sources and pre-planed automation. Both are great. But if you are trying to be a good keyboard player, real musician, I would recommend you to be the former first. Then, try also to learn how to operate your fancy musical equipment.

Why should you do the former first? Because if you do the latter first, you can easily trick yourself and believe that you already sound great! No improvement is necessary! But maybe you are not a great player yet. It's just that the sound source and (or) the automation made you sound great.

So, how to improve your keyboard playing? I would say, don't rely on sound sources or automation. Try the least automation and use very few patches ready for you to use. This constrains you. And it'll force you to be creative. Receiving or having abundant of things can lead you to laziness and lack of motivation. That applies to anything; limited resources, limited time, limited money, limited ingredients to create a meal, limited education, etc..

Having fewer sound source and least automation also gives you a great opportunity for listening better. You listen to what band members are playing. You will be more careful about not getting too busy playing a bunch of nonsense. Instead, you will play less but a perfect tasteful thing at a perfect moment. What you play becomes more appropriate for each moment. Basically, you will be more aware of what's going on musically as a whole, in whatever the musical situation you are in. But when you are "operating" sophisticated gadgets, you'll be distracted all the time because you are in "operating" mode, not musical mode.

So, I highly advise keyboard players to become a great keyboard player first with fewer electronic effects. And, after you become a great keyboard player, you know how to use all the fancy electronic effects more effectively and make your music sound even better!

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