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Music = Relationships (here are 12 ways!)

1. The effectiveness of lessons is dependent on the relationship between teacher and student, not merely on the information being conveyed.

2. Music theory is only meaningful in terms of the relationships between notes, and progressions of harmonic ideas. The minor key, for example, is all about the relationship of the third to the root.

3.  The length of a note — half note, quarter note, eighth note, etc.– is only meaningful in relation to when the following note is played.

4.  The impact of a beat note depends on its relationship to the pickup notes or breath that introduced it.

5. The musicality of a duo or ensemble is based on the relationship of its players and their musical connection, not in whether they play the notes, rhythms or tempos correctly.

6. Good intonation is based on the relationships of notes to each other, not to the correctness of their frequencies. This is true for voice, stringed instruments, well-tempered piano or any other instrument.

7. Crescendo, decrescendo, ritard, accelerando all depend for their effectiveness on the relationship between the starting volume or speed, and the finishing volume or speed.

8. A conductor’s downbeat is only meaningful in relation to the preparatory upbeat or count.

9. The excitement or calm of a section of music depends upon its relationship to what was played just before.

10. A change of tempo depends on the relationship of the second beat to the first.

11. Finger placement on an instrument is based on patterns — relationships of scales and arpeggios, and the proximity between fingers, not correct placement according to an objective measurement. For example, fingers on a string or across strings touch or remain a finger’s width apart, or may feel stretched or close depending on the interval, and these connections mean more to the muscle memory than whether a note was technically correct.

12. The value of a practice session is found in its relationship to the previous one. “You don’t get good, you just get better.”

Bonus: Using Music Teachers Helper improves relationships between students and teachers!

 

Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

About the Author

Ed Pearlman
Ed Pearlman has focused on performing, teaching, and judging fiddle music for over 30 years, offering performances and workshops throughout the USA and in Canada and Scotland. His original training was with members of the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, and he played with orchestras and chamber groups at Yale and in Boston. He currently teaches privately in Maine and at workshops around the countr... [Read more]

4 Comments

  1. Ronald

    Excellent article.

  2. Brenda Mueller

    This is great! I never thought about the different relationships in music.

  3. Bobby Angilletta

    Love that!

  4. Piano Mover, AZ

    Interesting way to think about it, huh? I think this is beautiful. I’m sure all of us can agree the relationship that we have with this passion and our music, is something special we will carry through life, just like any other relationship!

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