Guest post by Jennifer Foxx
I’m excited to be guest blogging on the Music Matters Blog about the Arizona Music Teachers State Conference that was held the first weekend of June.
Our morning started out with a presentation that I knew would be a good one, because Dr. Kiriluk presented at our chapter on the same subject earlier this year. Even though I had heard her presentation before, I enjoyed it just as much the second time as I did the first.
She starts off with the definition of Phrasing. And then explained that we don’t talk like a robot and tells us to have our students talk like a robot so they can hear what that sounds like.
When we introduce Phrasing we should compare it to speech. The inflection and breathing appear in both our speech and music. The flow of the phrase is very important. One important thing to keep in mind with phrasing is that there are MANY good ways of phrasing the music; don’t be afraid to change it up. Use your knowledge, experience, instinct, and personal taste in choosing how to phrase.
It is important to shape the phrase from the very beginning. Consider the character and style of the piece. Be sure to look at the big picture. A great analogy she uses is to put on our 3D glasses – notice which melodies pop out. Do an experiment and try bringing out the treble, then the middle, then the bass creating variety. What did you like best? Don’t get stuck in a rut, make room for variety.
In her handout she includes some basic principles to keep in mind with phrasing…but still using your own judgment:
- Follow the composer’s marking
- Emphasize longer notes
- Go to the 3rd measure out of 4 in a phrase
- Emphasize higher notes
- Emphasize downbeat
- Major vs. Minor
- Follow harmonic progression and implications in phrasing
- Emphasize rhythmic peculiarities (syncopation, irregular rhythms, etc…)
- Breathe in and out
- Group the notes in a variety of ways
- Find the main point of each phrase, each section and at the end of the piece
She concludes with how teachers can help students with phrasing. We should discuss and analyze the phrasing with the student. Sing! Dance! Let the student conduct the piece. Play improvised accompaniment or simply play along. Listen to good recordings and do whatever it takes for students to understand the phrasing.