Emotion in Musicality

happysad
Most of my lessons have themes; last Monday, Mindy's lesson-theme was emoting. I began by teaching her a wee bit of preliminary music theory (major scales) and then upon her suggestion and questioning, we transitioned into emotions.

She reminded me that at one of our first lessons I explained that her advantage as an adult is she's able to emote through her cello. Most children aren't aware of what it means to mourn, lament, or be elated. But regardless of age, students are able to play "Twinkle, Twinkle" sad or happily: Long/drawn-out or short/clarified.

Emotion can be clearly communicated when presented with no unintended distractions.


Unnecessary sounds could result from poor tone, poor phrasing, pitchy notes, bad technique. Applied to life, this means when I'm trying to convey an important message to a friend I will be more likely to call them up rather than text them so they can hear my inflection and they won't be distracted by other things.

Try this situation on for size:
Say I have an important meeting with a record label. Said record label is interested in signing my band but we have a few questions and want to clarify a few things. If I'm asking the label reps questions when I am tired (poor phrasing), way too emotionally charged (pitchy notes), and slouching while wearing sweat pants (poor technique) they will respond to my questions/statements with those distractions in their minds. But! If arrive time, alert, dressed appropriately, etc. I am in more control of how my questions/statements are received.

Do you see this?! This means when I'm even simply playing scales, my emotions are clearer (to myself and my audience), if I am able to play without presenting unintended distractions. Practicing your emotional clarity will immensely help your practice of performance.

Here's an exercise to try:
Pick a scale or a simple song. Pick an emotion. Roll a die. Now, play that song with that emotion exactly the same way the number of times the die directs. The trick with this is to tune your ears to the distractions you're playing. Don't eliminate them, repeat them with purpose! If you can replicate the distractions, then you'll be in control of the distractions and able to eliminate them when needed in the future! Cool huh?!

Have any other exercises in emoting that work for you? Share with the class!