The Encyclopedia Britannica defines musical expression as, “that element of musical
performance which is something more than mere notes.” Being able to read and accurately play
the notes on the page is an important skill to develop. However, the real music exists off the
page, in the way it expresses or produces emotions.
Just like it’s not enough to expressionlessly play the notes on the page, it’s also not enough to
simply feel the emotions conjured by a particular piece. The musician has to perform with
expressivity. Luckily, there are some handy musical tools that we use and practice in our
lessons each week! These are tone, dynamics, phrasing, and tempo.
It’s important to make expressivity a part of your student’s practice routine. Some practice ideas
● Play old songs with different types of tone (clean, rich, thin, full) to learn how each feels.
● Crescendo/Decrescendo up or down a scale or even on a single repeated note.
● Sing through phrases while playing.
● Experiment with different tempo and moods. How can you make a song sound shy or
brave, sad or happy, sleepy or in a rush?