When learning a piece of music, we generally learn to play the right notes at the right time first. As the piece becomes more familiar, we add tempo changes, dynamics and articulations. Depending on the musician and the difficulty of the work, maybe some of these can be played right from the beginning when learning the notes. After a certain amount of practice time, we'll be able to play the composition as written on the page; however, is this as far as it goes? Is it possible to take our performance to the next level?

With the highly developed computer programs available today, we can program a synthesizer so that it does just that: play all the right notes at the right time, all the tempo changes, all the right dynamics, all the right articulations: everything as written on the paper, and much more accurately than a human. Therefore if we humans have only gone this far in making music, any computer can replace us. This is only the technical level, and there is something very essential missing here.

The next stage is the level of musicianship. This is where we learn to express ourselves. I say learn because it's a never-ending process that will continue as long as we live. We may be able to express ourselves to a certain extent already, but is there a limit to musical expression? I think not. The ability to express ourselves is limited only as far as our imagination can carry us. Let's look at the aspects that lead to true musicianship.

Each phrase we play - even every note we play - can be an expression of our emotions. Each great composer had a particular feeling he wanted to express in each and every phrase, and searched his soul for the means to do this. The ability to express our emotions in music is directly proportional to our ability to empathize with the intentions of the composer - We have to try to feel and recreate what the composer felt when writing the music. One wonderful way of learning the emotions in music is to listen to Italian opera of the late 19th century. Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo, Giordano, Mascagni, to mention a few of the outstanding composers, put the entire palate of human emotions to music. Intensity, color, phrasing, vibrato, articulation - a great singer will make use of all these in order to express the emotions that the composer wrote into his translation of the story into music. Wouldn't it be wonderful to make music at this level?

At first it will take time to delve into the emotional level. Let's take a simple crescendo for example. Starting on a softer note and getting louder is the level of technique. The level of musicianship is to feel and express why we are getting louder, maybe adding intensity or vibrato in order to become angry or adamant. Another example is phrasing. Each phrase we play should have a direction. It should lead us to or from a goal, expressing a thought and/or an emotion. In consideration of articulation, playing an accent is not just starting a note louder; it can be a stressing or a hammering or even a yearning. This is all dependent on what we decide to convey, and in making music it is vitally important to visualize and internalize the intentions of the composer, and to awaken the emotions in ourselves.