From the Top, With Feeling: Expressive Music Practice

Feeling is everything in music. Or very nearly so. No matter what kind of music we listen to, we know it when we hear it. It’s so important that most listeners can perceive the emotional content in just a 1 second slice of sound! What is it that makes a piece of music expressive? It’s the musician herself that does, of course. But how does one go about learning how to do that? How do you convey feeling through sound? It’s the same answer as just about anything having to do with musical skill: you practice! But what does that mean? How do musicians practice the expressive aspects of music? Well, it turns out there is a piece of 2009 research that chronicles how 18 classical musicians do it

Reading & Writing Music is for Amateurs

There are worse musicians to emulate than Irving Berlin. He penned God Bless America, and the perennial classic White Christmas along with a whole host of other popular songs. Any songwriter would relish the royalties of either of these tunesand would probably both give their eyeteeth to have written them. Berlin knew the value of work. He didn’t believe in inspiration, but in effort. He wrote a song a day, regardless of fickle”inspiration.” The wonderful thing is that all of these musical accomplishments weren’t hampered by Berlin’s inability to read or write kusic. In fact, later in life, Berlin was convinced this inability was one of the factors in his success. He wasn’t limited by written music.