One day as I finished up with a student. She proposed a very interesting question to me:

“What’s more important? Is it my technique or is it my musicality?”

This stumped me more a second, as I knew that both were equally important aspects of learning music.

Without technique, there is no foundation or essentially the ability to play your music.

Without musicality, there is no expression, emotion or substance to your music.

I’ve come across many students that naturally have an ability to understand and create musicality, but lack the ability to play it because they do not focus on their technique.

On the contrary, I have seen students solely focussing on their technique, who end up presenting dry and unsubstantial playing – even though played technically to perfection.

So there definitely needs to be a balance between the two.

In my experience, and seeing my own students in their learning, these two items need to go hand in hand in order for the student to become a great musician. Good technique brings in good musicality, and good musicality in turn needs good technique.

However, I have come to also realise another thing.

Although musicality and technique are equally important, there is an order of which these two things should come.

Technique should be first.

I like to use an illustration of technique being like a flask and musicality as liquid being poured into it this flask.

If you do not have a solid flask, you cannot hope to contain the liquid you are pouring in.

In the same way, your technique is there to hold the musicality you are expressing.

If your technique is full of holes and cracks, your musicality leaks and won’t hold up.

Therefore, I encourage students to focus on both aspects, making technique has your first and foremost priority. You will find your ability to play to be much smoother, expressive and much more enjoyable.

The student requires firstly the technique in order for the student play something they enjoy.

Tips for Teachers:

In your own teaching, what is your focus for teaching your students? Do you spend majority of time honing technique? Or do you spend to time exploring musicality? How can you create a balance between the two for your own students.

See if you can arrange a balance between them, and remember that ultimately technique should come first and the musicality will follow.

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