Become fluent in the language of music on the keys

Using a simple model of rhythm and tonality, learn to play by ear, improvise and sight-read fluently – hear an unfamiliar score in your mind – with no complex theory or aural training

What is fluent musicianship?

Musical fluency is the ability to play music that you can imagine instantly and spontaneously using clear and simple principles and elements of musical language. It’s exactly the same idea as fluency in language. Playing in a natural, flowing, expressive style, without stopping or making mistakes is not the same thing as fluency but it is a byproduct of the deep musical understanding and expressive command that a fluent musician possesses.

So fluency is the ability to EXPRESS YOURSELF effortlessly and authentically using elements of rhythm and tonality that are as deeply familiar to you as words and groups of words in your native language. Fluent musicians can summon and recognise these elements of musical language instantly and spontaneously, without prior planning, rehearsal or theoretical working.

The difference between fluency training and conventional piano lessons

Fluent musicianship is active whereas the conventional approach to playing the piano is passive, as it is concerned with the execution of a rehearsed performance. Think deeply about the vast difference between fluent musical expression and even the most beautiful execution… 

I could recite a poem in a language that I don’t grasp fluently, just by learning it phonetically – I might even rehearse to a level that would fool people – but this is not fluency. It would require a great deal of rehearsal time to achieve this whereas fluent musical skills give us instant access to intelligible musical language. Improvisation is therefore the principle skill of fluent musicianship. 

A clear and simple model to focus on as you practise complete musical fluency in 15 steps

How the course works

The basic course is presented in 15 steps – an illustrated PDF document with integrated links to video demonstrations of how to practise each step. There is also a PDF document called The Concise Model which offers a clear, succinct birdseye view of the model of musical language used in the course. Practice and coaching materials are then offered at each step: you may cherry-pick these materials as you need them, working at your own pace.

When you make a purchase, you receive links to the relevant PDF documents and video files for you to download. New materials and updates to these materials will be announced here: the original links provide lifetime access to these updated versions.

The training is simple but not necessarily easy

If you enjoy music, feel its message deeply and have the ability to imagine music playing in your mind, then you have all the necessary innate ability to become fluent in the language of music on the keys. The training is simple but it will only work if you practise the art of deep, clear, calm focus and expressive letting go.

Self expression, meditation and play

This Zen-like approach is a real challenge for many people who are conditioned to be results-driven. The focused, expressive, playful practice required is very different from the typical training style of working towards fixed outcomes. The desire to perfect an external performance will block the path to fluency: instead we must have a burning desire to express ourselves from within.

In fluency training, you are not made to follow theory or show-and-play instructions and you don’t listen critically to the musical result. Music that exists outside of you is not the goal of your fluency training. Instead you work on your inner grasp of musical language by developing a clear and simple, moment-by-moment focus on the model as you let go and play with authentic freedom of expression. 

The pressure to achieve results only leads to a loss of mental clarity and expressive freedom. Letting go to find the powerful combination of discipline and expressive freedom at the same time is perhaps the greatest challenge of the programme for many of us. When you can focus and let go, great results will follow naturally – as a byproduct of fluency in the language of music.

Beginner mind

If you have prior musical experience, you will have passive habits: you will play using muscle memory, pinning your fingers to set keys, decoding notes or theoretical elements in a linear fashion, or perhaps relying on show and play instructions, mixed with a “karaoke” sense of how the music goes. It is very important to abandon these approaches, if you wish to keep the path to musical fluency clear. This is a serious challenge as habits can be hard to break. The best way is to embrace becoming a complete beginner.

Discover the simple focus and playful letting go of a curious child. Enter a state of flow! With the musical structure clear, you can play effortlessly from your body & soul!

Learn like a child

So can you find a deeply curious and playful attitude? Do you want to explore how a simple model works and use it to express yourself authentically in the language of music? Are you willing to awaken your child’s mind, the mind of a 4-year-old? With a childlike state of guileless expressiveness or sense of wonder, it is easy to absorb the simple principles and elements and use them with freedom.

Your task of internalising the principles and elements of musical language is something you did as a small child with colours, shapes and words and so many other familiar things. Coaching guidance materials are available to help you get into the childlike zone of deep discipline and expressive letting go.

Growth mindset

Allowing growth to happen organically from a place of trust and strength goes against much of our usual conditioning around learning. Most of us have been trained to have a fixed or perfectionist mindset where we believe that if something can be improved, it must be inadequate or wrong in its current state. We tend to think that we will arrive at a point of adequacy – or perfection – only in the future. In contrast, a growth mindset sees everything as work in progress. Imperfection and failure are embraced as part of the learning process.

The principles and elements of this model never change. Your focus on them as you express yourself and let go can improve indefinitely. So you must adopt a playful, disciplined growth mindset. If you were learning to juggle, you would have to accept that sometimes you will drop the balls. So it is with working on the practical skills of fluent keyboard musicianship. In this spirit, new materials will be added to the course as it keeps growing and evolving. It’s exciting that even after so many years of expert development, new angles and practices can still be found. Meanwhile, the principles and elements of the model never change!

Adults can struggle to develop new skills simply because they focus too much on getting the right results and the resulting feelings of insecurity and failure block their willingness to have a go, to risk failure and play freely. This course will help you let go of this fixed mindset. You will learn to measure the quality and clarity of your focus rather than check the musical results. This way, you will learn to trust your natural inner musician, to experiment, to express yourself playfully and unlock your true musical potential.

If this approach sounds interesting and appealing to you, please read the rest of the information on this website to find out more. Then if you have any questions, you can contact Phil Best – the course creator.

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