Did you know that there are two styles of New Age piano playing? One style is more percussive and staccato ala George Winston. The other, much softer and quieter. You should learn both styles! Why? Because there are times when you want to really “bang on the keys" so to speak and other times when a gentler mood takes over. Let's explore both styles and see how they're created.
First the George Winston style. When Winston came on the scene in the early 1980's, he introduced the world to a new piano style. His debut album December (still widely ordered today) put solo piano back on the map. His style, though varying throughout his career, is a percussive one, especially for new age piano. Using left hand ostinato patterns, Winston then improvises/composes melody on top.
His style was so popular that many pianists, including myself were influenced by it. To play in the Winston style, you have to learn hand independence because it's the left that sets the background. The right then comes in with improvised melody. The easiest way to learn this is to practice simple ostinato patterns first. When you can keep a pattern going in the left hand while improvising freely in the right, you're on your way.
New Age pianists David Lanz and Michael Jones made the second softer style popular. These two pianists focused more on soft textures. Especially Michael Jones. His music is just one extended improvisation usually. Lanz focused more on melody. To play in the Lanz style, it's good to know how to create or compose a melody because this is what he leads with. To do this you should know about musical phrases and how they're constructed.
Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons . He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Stop by now at www.quiescencemusic.com/piano_lessons.html for a FREE piano lesson!