Adding Emotion to Music

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
How to Add Emotion to Your Music

Building Emotional Roadmaps

Having an emotional roadmap for any song you’re learning makes performing more satisfying and truly communicates the meaning of the music to an audience.

Audiences are looking for an emotional connection to you. They care more about making that connection than they do about your technical capabilities or your quest for perfection.

Since most practicing musicians don’t know how to easily convey emotions in their music, I want to give you a simple exercise you can start using in the practice room immediately to develop this skill.

The Emotion Exercise

Using only a single scale or arpeggio, play/sing it so that it conveys as many emotions as you can think of. These emotions should run the gamut from the most positive to the most negative.

Here is an example:

Play or sing a one octave major scale many times, each time infusing the scale with a different emotion.

Here are some suggestions for positive emotions:

Next, try the same exercise with negative emotions:

This one exercise will open you up to a nearly unlimited palette of sound – and this is all with just a major scale!

Emotion Beats Technique

When musicians try this experiment, an amazing process unfolds. Often, people modify their playing techniques to accommodate the emotion. This change happens automatically.

This is much more natural than planning a specific physical technique to bring out a certain emotion. Going for the emotion first seems to unlock musicians’ technical creativity.

For many musicians this process makes them play their instruments or sing songs in the most interesting way they’ve ever experienced–all because they have an emotional goal with their music. Instead of worrying about the notes, you’ll find yourself actually communicating real feelings!

If you could practice, rehearse, and perform like this all the time, you would get so much more out of being a musician. And, if you can successfully do this exercise with a major scale, imagine how gratifying it will be to use this concept with music you truly love and plan to perform.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

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