Practice Tip of the Week:
Show Some Emotion

Having an emotional roadmap for a piece of music makes
performing more satisfying and truly communicates the
meaning of the music to an audience.

But many practicing musicians don’t know how to easily
convey emotions in their playing. This week’s tip focuses
on developing this skill.

Try this exercise:

Using only a single scale or arpeggio, play it so that
it conveys as many emotions as you can think of. These
emotions should run the gamut from the most positive to
the most negative.

Here is an example:

Play a one octave major scale many times, each time infusing
the scale with a different emotion.

Here are some suggestions for positive emotions:
happiness, excitement, tenderness, freedom, love.

Next, try the same exercise with some negative emotions:
fear, grief, sadness, boredom, anger.

When musicians try this experiment, an amazing process unfolds.
Often, people modify their playing technique to accommodate the
emotion. This change happens automatically.

This is much more natural than planning a specific physical
technique to bring out a certain emotion. Going for the emotion
first seems to unlock musicians’ technical creativity.

For many musicians this process makes them play their instruments
in the most interesting way they’ve ever played–all because
they have an emotional goal with their music. Instead of worrying
about the notes, they’re actually communicating!

If we could play and practice like this all the time, we would get
so much more out of being musicians. And, if you can successfully
do this exercise with a major scale, imagine how gratifying it will
be to use this concept with music you truly want to perform.

To Your Musical Success!

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