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Jan 22

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The Problem of Correctness and Artistry

When we first learn music, we figure out how to hold the instrument, how to make a tone, etc. Then, we figure out things like correct notes and rhythms. As our playing develops we correct more specific things like intonation, articulation, vibrato, and harmony, which form basic skills and musicianship.

But, at what point do we consider how we feel? For many, that moment never happens. We get caught up in a never-ending quest for more and more correctness and do not develop trust for our feelings. Always comparing our playing to an external reference – something “out there” and not “from here”.

Playing what you think you should for the sake of correctness does not allow for spontaneity or subjective perspective, essential qualities of artistry. There is no correct rhythm, tone, or harmony, but there are many interesting subtleties of rhythms, tones, and harmonies. While artistry requires skill and discipline, ultimately it is not about what is right. It is about what you feel is appropriate.

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