Endless hours of scales, exercises, technique, ear training… Endless mind-spinning details of intonation, articulation, gear, career… Crazed obsession in its purest form. But why did we get into this music thing in the first place? Whatever happened to that deep well of emotion that first moved and inspired us to take on this musical beast? 

And why is it so hard to drink from that well when it comes to our own music?

In this month’s Instrument Packs we let loose Musical U’s Resident Pros on the topic of “Play it with feeling!” The results surprised us in their breadth, depth, and the variety of approaches to accessing that passion and bringing it to full expression in our music.

Guitar

Resident Pro Dylan Welsh believes that “feel” is a word that seems to get thrown around a lot, but it can be a little ambiguous as far as musical adjectives go. Generally, it’s used to describe guitarists that play very “expressively” – in other words, they seem to be expressing a genuine emotion or feeling through their playing. Dylan draws from several strains of thought as he describes how to achieve a deeper connection with the guitar:

Including:

  • What it means to play expressively, and how we can break that down in a way that makes a little more sense for the sake of applicable practice.
  • The three primary ingredients for expression on the guitar – the prerequisites to playing expressively.
  • A few good techniques and exercises that you can incorporate into your practice routine that will allow you to start expressing yourself faster.
  • Why and how singing is your most powerful tool for making that deep connection with your guitar – even if you’re not such a good singer.
  • Multi-purpose MP3 backing and demo tracks to practice your mind-instrument connection.

Check out Dylan’s Resource Pack as he reveals the most important and surprising tool for any guitarist to bridge the gap between the amazing music you hear in your head and your ability to bring that expression all the way out on your guitar.

Piano

Connecting with your instrument (and your audience!)  gives music meaning and makes both performing and listening more enjoyable! The ability to play with feeling comes innately to some, but for others, it can be a difficult journey. In this resource pack, Resident Pro for piano, Sara Campbell, teaches specific ways to enhance the emotional connection with your music:

Including:

  • What might be “standing in your way” if you struggle with this connection.
  • Micro-level dynamics and phrase shaping.
  • An expressive exploration of the Irish tune, “Danny Boy”.
  • How to mine the emotional information from song lyrics – even when you’re playing an instrumental solo.
  • Jazzy MP3 “Danny Boy” backing tracks for a new take on an old tune.

Playing piano with feeling does not have to be a mysterious process! Sara shows that careful and loving attention to a song can help you bring forward your deep expressive potential.

Bass

We often spend our practice time focusing on technique, exercises, working out difficult passages – and then we wonder why that connection with our inner feeling selves doesn’t quite come through in performance. Steve Lawson, our Resident Pro for bass, brings the idea of playing with feeling into the practice room in unexpected ways, as he shows you how to create more enjoyable, satisfying, and musical experiences in the practice room that will transfer to more meaningful and passionate performances:

Including:

  • The power of finishing something – starting small, and bringing a creative process all the way to its conclusion.
  • Fixing what you need to fix in your playing while creating something beautiful.
  • Changing it up – keeping yourself out of a rut by shifting your approach.
  • Collaborating with others – giving and receiving feedback from other bassists to keep your attitude fresh.
  • MP3s tracks for you to explore your creative strategies.

Bassists are often the journeymen of the music world, expected to lay down an unwavering groove while the other musicians take all the glory. While this is an important skill, practicing creativity, and creatively practicing will strengthen your bond with your bass and flavor all of your playing with your own expression.

Coming up next month…

Stay tuned for new and exciting resources for our Instrument Pack members!

Interested in getting access to these resources and much more, with an Instrument Pack membership? Just choose that option during checkout when you join Musical U, or upgrade your existing membership to get instant access!

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