October 21, 2013

Musical Expression | Articles

Musical Expression

Lou Walinsky
Submitted: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 9:48am
Creating and communicating a story, feeling, or mood for the listener is essential in playing any genre of music.
What is the point of playing music unless it says something? Unless it moves and
touches the listener in some way? The endless hours involved in learning the nuts and bolts of an instrument must lead to the performer creating and communicating a story, a feeling, or a mood for the listener. No matter if the performer is playing for only him/herself or for hundreds or thousands of people. No matter if the music is composed or improvised, in whatever genre it may be. In order for the music to work its magic, the performer must go beyond simply playing the notes correctly to letting the sounds take flight.
Sara Freed, one of my most influential piano teachers, wrote this poem about musical expression, in 1964:
I must make the mood of the music my own,
With all the awareness I have ever known.
The sadness of the lento, largo, and adagio,
The gladness of the rondo, allegro and scherzando.
Shouting, weeping, dancing in turn,
Developing discipline so demanding and stern.
My throat sings silently while fingers rise and fall,
The note is nothing unless the music is all.
The timeless sentiments expressed in these words are worthy goals for all music students and performers to aspire to. Making those goals a reality in one’s music is one of the great challenges and joys of learning to play an instrument.
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