How are you LISTENING to yourself during you practice, recordings, playing and performing?
Here are a few questions to consider to enhance your practice, play and performances.
Tone: Is it alive, expressive, open, flowing, colorful, consistently beautiful? Where is it not? Is it Expressing the Music and your Musical Intention?
Intonation: How is my overall intonation? Is it creating beauty? How about when I change dynamics? How are my C#/ Db’s? How is my intonation melodically and harmonically? How is it at the beginnings and endings of every phrase?: Is it free, efficient, flowing, fast, deep and silent enough to sculpt the phrase and music I am playing? Are my breaths reflecting the musical phrasing I intend to create?
•Body Language: Am I aware of my body? Is my body language free and natural? Is there tension I do not need? Are my body movements contributing to my music making or taking away from it? Am I using my body as my principal instrument? Do my movements reflect the phrase direction, mood, the Music I am playing? It is called “body language” and you are speaking to us through the way you move, use your body.
•Vibrato: Is it expressive of the music I am playing? Does it vary and have color that reflects shifting moods or styles of the music? How am I using it during decrescendos and crescendos? Does it overwhelm my sounds or add to to color and movement of it?
Tone colors: Am I using a variety of colors in my playing? Add color to a note or phrase, key or mood change, emotional vibrato color choice, vowels ...?
Phrase direction: Does each phrase have direction, shape and a peak? Am I giving care to appoggiaturas and other colorful, expressive notes in a phrase? How does the Harmony influence every note and phrase?
Emotion: E-motion.. motion, movement, of feeling. Can I feel the emotion as I listen to my playing? Where does the emotion change? Does it change often? Where is it the same? Do I truly feel what I am playing? Is this what I hear as I listen to a recording of myself? Or what people say who I have asked to listen to me and give me feedback?
Nuances: Do I know the style, history, composer, score, harmony and use this to infuse my musical imagination? Am I creating inflection and nuance on each note and in my phrasing and the whole of what I am playing?
Accents: Are my accents creating a variety of inflections? Consider how accents may be expressed in different ways via different languages, styles and composers. Are you playing a French, German, Italian, American, British, Russian etc... piece of music?
Articulation: Are my articulations expressive and correct? Are they creating musical clarity and expression in your music making? Could I choose other syllables, tonguing or use of air, that would help facilitate this? i.e. tu, tah, du, dah, pu, french tonguing, single, double, triple etc...?
Phrase endings: Are they beautifully crafted and in-tune? Are they ringing, fading, long enough? Does the last note stay the same volume, crescendo or decrescendo? How does the phrase end? Does it create an ending? Does it lead to the next phrase or set of phrases?
Sections/Parts: Do all of the individual phrases move toward the one peak in a section, part or movement of music? What kind of phrase or part is the composer creating and I am expressing? How does this lead into or not into another section or part of the music?
Technique: Is every note heard and expressed clearly? Am I connected to my flute in a natural way that gives me technical ease and virtuosity?
Notation vs. Music: The notation is not the music.~ B. Kuijken. Am I going beyond what is marked in the music to find the music inside the notation? Are you saying something? Am I giving true voice to the music, or just playing notes? Am I connected to the music enough to touch my heart as well as the people who are listening to me play?
Rhythm: Is it accurate and does it convey the meter, musical phrasing and style? Am I connected to the pulse, heartbeat of the music and the rhythms I am playing?
Tempo: Is it steady, and I connected to this vital pulse and also allowing for the changes as indicated in the music?
Stage Presence: What is MY presence on Stage? Am I practicing performing? Am I confident from the moment I walk on the stage? Am I open, expansive, giving and authentic? If playing with a pianist or others, do I know the piano part, the ensemble as a whole? Am I able to play with another person, persons and to connect and cue when needed?
Attitude: Am I completely engaged and involved in what I am doing, in a meaningful, genuine and satisfying way?