2016 was the year of spectacular phrasing. Just what is phrasing?
It is listening to the sound you create and deciding how you want each note and groups of notes to sound.
Do you want them to start quietly and then grow to a really big sound? Or do you want to start loud and end quietly. Will the sound be harsh and abrasive? Or will it be gentle and inviting.
The possibilities are endless. The question musicians ask themselves to help them decide how to phrase is: What is the music trying to communicate?
There is an example of a Prokofiev Sonata where parts of it can be phrased with no loud, no soft, no crescendo, no nothing but monotone big sound. Why would Prokofiev write a piece like that? A little history provides the answer. He was living in the Soviet Union in the 1930s where there was no freedom. He was describing what it felt like not to be free. (What I find fascinating is that he wasn’t thrown in jail).
Contrast that with a brilliant Chopin Polonaise where huge dynamic contrasts bring the piece alive.
Professional musicians meticulously choose how they want every single note to sound. Sometimes they don’t know what way will sound the best. So they experiment and let their ears and body tell them. Keeping in mind what the piece is about, they listen closely as they try different ways. When they find the way that moves them and conveys the feeling the piece is trying to convey, that seals the deal.
You too can learn spectacular phrasing right now. You don’t have to wait until you’re a professional musician. All it takes is a listening ear and a willingness to explore different sounds.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask your teacher for help. Before you know it, you’ll be playing music that not only moves your audience, but also moves you as well.