Sunday, May 28, 2017

3 Ways Artistry & Technique Can Stay Happily Married in Your Practice

Post 23 of 31 for May 2017

I recently began a student's lesson by asking how her performance went this past weekend. She responded, "Well, the last time I performed it, it was really musical, but I played it messy. This time, I got all of the technique, but the spirit wasn't there." The conversation that followed is the inspiration for this post!

A common struggle for many flutists is the apparent battle between "technicality" and "musicality." I put both of these words in quotation marks because I believe (very strongly!) that no technical passage should be devoid of expression and no beautiful musical passage should be played with poor technique. It actually breaks my heart when it seems as though a flutist has divorced technique from artistry and feels that they can only be practiced one at a time. 


How can you keep artistry and technique happily married in your practicing?

1. Make slow tempos and/or small sections incredibly dramatic. 
When you practice at slow tempos and/or repeat small sections you have extra time to make your louds louder, softs softer, and the flow between notes even more meaningful. Your articulation can be extra precise, you can listen more carefully for intonation and tone quality, and you can stay even more aware of your body position and breathing. When you create "larger-than-larger-than-life" versions at slow tempos and in small sections, your up-to-tempo full version playing will retain the same dramatic characteristics!

2. Use practice games to drill the sounds you want. 
When you practice notes in small groups, different rhythms, or creative combinations, it is the perfect chance to drill in the sweet spots in every single sound. Use a variety of practice methods to internalize not only muscle memory but sound memory!

3. Train your mind to think artistic thoughts. 
Rather than playing like a robot for 90% of your practice and then trying to be "more musical" right before the performance, practice thinking artistically every time you practice your flute! If you connect your music with a story, take time to connect with the story every time. Same goes for any interpretive approach (colors, images, emotions, shapes, etc.) Teach your mind to think the same artistic thoughts in your practice that you ultimately want in your performance. 

Happy Practicing!
Terri Sánchez

P.S. To browse the other posts from my 31 posts in 31 days challenge this month, click HERE