Teacher Tips: How the “whys” of music help us grow

September 11, 2020

Have you ever wondered why a composer wrote a piece the way they did? One of the most exciting things about being a musician is trying to discover the “why” of a composition! Why did the composer choose to write a forte, then piano…are they trying to get an echo effect? What sound are they going for? 

After we ask ourselves why, another fun question is “why not!” My professor used to always say, “Everything is to some degree defined by what it is not.” Practice time is the perfect opportunity to play around with opposites – if a passage is marked legato, try it staccato once. If a passage is marked staccato, try it legato. Maybe there is something beautiful about the passage that you haven’t discovered…but playing it differently once might help you hear it in a new way!

The “whys” of music help us grow closer to the notes we play and the sound we make. We don’t just practice to learn the notes, we practice to discover why the composer wrote them! Phrasing, dynamics, articulations and musical direction are some of the hints that composers leave for us to solve the puzzles of each piece. We are musical sleuths, and the markings on the page are the clues to making good music. The best part about being a musical detective is discovering the beautiful mysteries of music, and the more you discover, the more you’ll love!

– Madeline Rogers | Piano Artist-Faculty

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