Polishing Your Song After Music Theory and Practice


in Methods, Music Theory, Performance

At this point, week 3, I’m going to look at bringing the song up to a polished condition and performance worthy.

In the posts Applied Music Theory in Practice and Music Practice Technique after Music Theory Application my practice session started with returning to the basics of applied music theory to learn a song and then pulling together the form and practiced music phrases.

Status of Learning the Song

So far things are going very well. I’ve further internalized the music theory aspects of the song and feel comfortable with the chords and progressions. I’ve smoothed up the transitions and noticed that I needed to focus a little more on rhythm. I pulled out the metronome to work on the chunks as I put them together and that helped when I focused on my 3 to 4 beats of practice.

I’ve noticed part of the problem initially was just how rusty I’d gotten because of all my other duties and lack of time to keep the old fingers loose and in shape.

That’s starting to change with the addition of some scale and arpeggio practice as I’m focusing on the song parts.

Song Polishing Working into Stage 3

In Stage 3 there is a need to refocus your efforts. You should have a good handle on the song structure the melody and chord progressions. Adding in rhythm and transition smoothing leads to a good solid song presentation at the basic level.

Polishing involves putting the time. Yes, you’re going to have to repeat and play the song or portions of the song many times.

Song Polishing Practice

Polishing is also the focus from the music to the presentation of the music. That is expression. The elements you’ll address are many, but to start here are three that I use:

  1. Melody line needs to clearly be distinguished from the underlining supporting chord notes.
    1. These notes will have more emphases and will clearly act as a signer would.
    2. This requires different amount of pressure or stroke to your notes.
  2. Phrasing the melody
    1. Is it a question and answer pattern?
    2. Where does the phrase get louder and softer
    3. Are you attacking the embellishments or leading tones to so that the melody is truly singing to you?
  3. Are interludes of the supporting notes being applied to enhance the performance with an appropriate amount of emphases, softness, or space?

These 3 are really just a start but applying them is done much in the same way as when we talked about practicing and putting the parts together. It requires a new focus on the parts that you did before.

Polishing with Focus

With these criteria in mind I’ll take the form AABA at each part and practice 10 times in a row and likely do it 3 to 5 times while I hone in on the performance.

I’ll take my song and look at phrasing and now that I can play the parts while I start focusing on the emphasis that I want to achieve.

I’ll experiment with loud and soft and with just making sure that the melody is coming out stronger than the rest of the supporting chord tones.

I’ll experiment with phrases by singing the melody line. I’ll play around with the interlude parts between phrases to see what best supports my interpretation of the piece.

Now with this approach I’ve been able to take a song and focus intently within three weeks and hopefully have it ready for performance.

Next time I’ll let you know how the performance went.

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