musical phrase

A primary goal of music lessons is to help students unlock the sound of music bound by the printed page. When I catch myself calling the book or score “the music”, I jokingly put the book up to my ear and attempt to “hear” the music. Of course the student gets it and realizes that yes, the page provides only the code and that it is up to him/her to break that code to create music.

Another primary goal of music lessons is also to help students unlock the composer’s story and retell it in a compelling way. Some tend to have a natural inclination to relay the true colors of a composition. Others (like most average students) may not have this special intuition. However, with guidance, anyone can play a piece and share a musical “story” successfully.

This guidance can be broken into the most basic elements. Building upon these fundamental rules, students can break the notation code and share in artistic music-making. [···]

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(Improvisation Journals, Budding Ideas, Blossoms and Bouquets)

Last month I talked about students making improvisation journals to jot down their musical ideas. Paralleling the creative process to stages in development of flowers and bouquets, ideas were offered in these areas (see Blossoming Improvisation – Part One dated 9/25/09) :

  • Preparing the Soil for Creativity
  • Planting Seeds (motifs).

Today I want to talk about the remaining three stages in my flowery discussion of creativity:

  • Budding Ideas (phrases)
  • Blossoms (sections)
  • The Bouquet (the composition)

Budding Ideas (Phrases)

In this section, short motifs from the “Planting Seeds” section (see Part One of this series) will be expanded in to phrases. The motifs may be used as “take-off” points, or combined to create an interesting theme.

Since a phrase is a musical sentence, it needs to have a beginning, and build through the middle to a period or question mark at the end. The picture of a rainbow shape is a helpful analogy of a phrase shape. Though all phrases do not follow the same melodic and dynamic shape, the rainbow shape will ensure nicely rounded, successful phrases for introductory purposes. Once this is achieved, turn up at the ends of the phrases to create question phrases.  [···]

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