Whenever a student begins to learn to play music, either with an instrument or their own voice, one of the most important early lessons is the value of proper musical technique. This will, of course, be different for each instrument; piano students will learn how to sit, proper wrist and hand posture, finger dexterity, etc.; while a woodwind student will focus on finger placement, breathing, and sitting posture. A good teacher will introduce each of these elements before the student ever plays their first note! Essential techniques like these create a solid foundation before diving into the more complex world of music.
While some may downplay the importance of musical technique, The Music Studio believes it’s the bedrock on which all musical learning is built. Without it, students may be limited in what they can achieve, and may not develop the dexterity and mobility needed to truly succeed.
That said, with the proper musical techniques, anyone can reach their goals.
So, what is musical technique? One definition is “the ability to play and produce the exact musical effect or note in a correct, efficient, and healthy way.”
In order to achieve this, proper musical technique involves:
- body posture;
- placement of the instrument in relation to the body;
- the mechanics of playing the instrument.
Each of these elements is necessary to prepare a student for more complex areas of performance as they improve. For example, a new piano student may learn the pentascale first, using only five fingers. From there, they move on to a full octave scale. Once the octave scale has been mastered, they move on to two-octave scales. Each of these technical skills acts as the building blocks leading to the next, more complex skill.
Improving Musical Technique
While coordinating all these foundation skills may seem like a monumental task, it doesn’t have to be. Many teachers will start with simple warm-up exercises. Home practice sessions can be managed the same way. From there, the best way to improve your musical technique is to use the lesson plan your instructor has prepared for you. What concept are you currently working on?
Let’s use a percussionist for this example. If you’re working on a specific drum rudiment, play it until you can play it five times correctly. This may only take a few minutes; if so, fantastic! If it takes a bit longer, that’s okay too! The important thing is to work through it until you get it right. This perseverance builds both muscle memory – the ability to reproduce a movement without thinking about it – and musical confidence. You’ll get stronger, faster, and more efficient as you build both.
It’s also important to get into the details when working on your technique. Consider scales and arpeggios; as you run through them, try to notice if any aspects of your playing don’t feel or sound right. From there, figure out why. This might include picking apart your current technique and examining each element by itself. Through a purposeful refining process like this, you can correct any problems and open your musical horizons.
The Value of Improving Technique
The simple fact is, improving your technique allows you to become a more skilled and well-rounded musician. A strong grasp of the fundamentals gives you the ability to play more efficiently, which leads to more complex skills. What’s more, proper musical technique allows you to perform in the healthiest way possible; proper hand positioning and posture help prevent repetitive movement injuries.
Proper musical technique is the foundation on top of which a long and enjoyable musical life is built! This is true for all music students, whether they only want to play for themselves, or for packed stadiums. In the end, students who master proper techniques go on to grow into confident, well-rounded musicians.
Looking to build your own foundation? The Music Studio is the place to start! Check out all our programs, each taught by a professional musician, and sign up today!