Pop singer/songwriter Mika, talks about his composing process here. He mentions that growing up he listened to everything from classical to folk including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Egyptian, Flamenco, Reggae, and American standards – although not too much pop or rock music. If I had to name the single most important thing a young pianist could do to contribute to his musical growth I think I would have to tell them to listen to music — all kinds. Start with a YouTube search for Billie Holiday or Glenn Gould, for example, and spend an hour or more just following the links and listening to music.
I love when my students come in and mention an artist or a piece they like, maybe it was something they played in the school orchestra or just something they heard online. I make a point to find the piece and listen to it before their next lesson so we can talk about it and try to find a piano arrangement to work on. But I especially love when my students take my recommendations and go home and listen to the music I suggest to them.
And in case you’re looking a the white stuff today, here’s clip of Mika singing Let It Snow.