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How do you work on musicality?

When we think of growing as a musician, we often imagine technical breakthroughs. But it's dedicating ourselves to the music, not the notes, that makes our technique leapfrog. This post is about tips for getting out of our shell and becoming a strong and opinionated music-maker during practice.

1) Sing in full voice (in the practice room, the shower, the car…). Sing, sing, sing, like your life depends on it. Alternate singing and playing. I was really inspired by Xavier Foley's masterclass at VCU last weekend, as he used a lot of singing. Here's a video of him working on voice/playing as an example.

2) Find the Words: Make a scratch copy of your music and mark in what color you are aiming for with evocative and strong language, like “heart-breaking”, “velvety”, “giddy”, “nostalgic”, “riveting”, “ominous”, “bright” etc. Mark hearts, emojis, colors, temperature or whatever comes to you, but mark lots of it.. 

3) Play copycat: Find YouTube recordings and try to imitate exactly what the musician is doing musically and how they are doing it. A few days later,  pick another recording. Rinse, repeat.  Start to get opinionated about what you like and don’t like by trying on other's ideas.

4) Pick a theme for a day, related to expression. Dedicate yourself to exploring that theme with curiosity. For example:

  • Articulation Day

  • Super Dynamics Day

  • Color the Sound Day

  • Vibrato Day

  • Longest Phrases Day

  • Rubato Day

5) Play along with YouTube or TomPlay. Harmony inspires phrasing.

6) Every Day Habits: We need to exaggerate way more than we think. Overdue it. Every day. Practice your technique (scales etudes etc) super musically. Don’t make anything you do “dry and boring”.

I'll leave you with this: musicality is a habit, a state of mind, a way of life.


Want more ideas on how to make your practice more empowering? Download the into + 3 sample prompts from my practice journal Practizma!



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