Music can touch the soul, tug the heart strings, and move the listener to great – or not so great – things. The right piece of music, played well, with the right inflections, and with passion, can have great affect on the listener. Played poorly, it can cause boredom, uneasiness, and disappointment. Your music can take the listener to magical places, calm their soul, or give them great joy, among other things. Following a few guidelines can help you on your journey to make such touching music.
Always keep your audience in mind. If you want to move your listener, you have to choose music that is appropriate for them at that time and place in their life. Playing funeral music at a wedding might evoke laughter, disgust, and would probably never get you hired again. But playing the bride’s favorite classical piece as her bridesmaids walk down the aisle will give her great joy on a very special day. Make sure you know what your audience enjoys and needs and give it to them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or do research to find out what style, type, and length of music is needed.
Learn your music well. Your audience will not be moved if you stumble over notes, lose your place, or make obvious mistakes. Instead, they will be distracted and concerned. Your mistakes will make them uneasy and take them away from the focus of the piece. Also, learn the musicality of the piece. Make sure you know the dynamic changes, the tempo markings, and especially the phrasing. Memorize the music when possible, it will give you more freedom to connect with your listener.
Be confident. If you are uneasy, your listeners will sense it. They will also feel your uneasiness and will not be able to enjoy your performance. Instead, know your music and your venue well enough that you can be confident in your work. You will feel better and so will your audience. They will be able to focus on your work if you are comfortable with it.
Know what the composer was trying to say. Most pieces of music, even those that do not have words, have some kind of message that it is being portrayed through the notes. Maybe the composer is sharing a feeling, or celebrating an event, or even portraying a period of history. Find out what the composer was trying to say and feel it when you play the piece. Put yourself in his or her shoes so you can understand the music more fully.
Connect with your audience. When possible, make eye contact with your listeners, shake their hands, and let them get to know you. Your music will mean more to them if they feel that they are a part of your life and you are a part of theirs.
Music doesn’t just happen. It takes time, energy, research, and rehearsing to make a piece come together. But with hard and passion, you can make your music sing!