Good morning fellow bloggers! It's been a while since I've posted. I'm not sure how many other teachers have found themselves more and more pressed for time as the term advances, but I certainly have! Unfortunately, as a result my blogging has taken more of a backseat role these past few weeks.
This morning I wanted to discuss playing musically. Musicality is an aspect that I've been really emphasizing with my students this fall. While I do believe that this is something that should be taught from the very beginning, there are always some students who seem to be more in tune to all those subtle nuances that make the music come alive. Other students notice, but put it in as a matter of course, not because they feel it. And then there's that last category- the students that never pay any attention to the dynamics, tempo, touch, etc. and see the piece as successful only when they've plowed straight through and arrived at the end.
With so many approaches from the student toward the performing of music, there is no set formula that works across the board. Some students will more naturally pick up on the musical elements that appear in the music, while others will struggle with incorporating those elements, even after repeated reminders.
When I speak of musicality, my primary emphases are on aspects like the dynamics, articulation, tempo, and mood. Before we start a new song, I always take some time to have a discussion with the student about these elements- even on the most basic of pieces. I'll have them circle all the dynamics with a colored pencil, or trace the slurs to remind themselves to play with a smooth, connected sound. We'll discuss the title of the song, and how the music fits the title. By making the student aware of these elements from the very beginning, the musical results are generally much more positive.
As an added visual accompaniment, I often use this hand-out. It's especially helpful with those students who seem to really struggle with the concept of playing musically to help them be more in tune with these elements. It's available under the printables tab if you're interested in using it for your own students. Any thoughts on what else I could include?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you teaching musical playing to your students. What is the best way to teach this? Is there a time to start introducing musicality, or should it be part of lessons from the beginning? How do you help students who may struggle more with this issue? Do you consider a piece complete even if the musical aspects are not all there, or do you insist on all the elements before leaving a piece of music?
"Scribbling in the Sand" by Michael Card. This book explores what it means to express ourselves creatively as Christians, and it really challenged my perspective of worship and creativity. I'd love to share this excellent book with one reader, so please, if you'd like to be included in the giveaway leave me a comment below telling what it means to you to be a Christian artist and how the presence of Christ in your life has shaped your approach to music and teaching. I'll pick a winner next Friday. Good luck!