photo of woman playing clarinet outdoors“One should hunger after the whole concept, the whole mood, what the music stands for.”
–William Pleeth, cellist
The Musician’s Way, p. 71

When we approach an unfamiliar composition, I recommend that we map out a preliminary interpretation before we deal with technical issues.

But once we have basic musical and technical issues in hand, how do we elevate our interpretation to concert level?

Here are 6 ways.

6 Ways to Refine a Musical Interpretation

1. Record Yourself

Photo of Zoom H4n Recorder

Zoom H4n Recorder

Self-recording helps us perceive how we truly sound and size up the impact of our expressive gestures.

Recommended Recorders: Audio: Zoom H4n | Video: Zoom Q4n 

2. Listen to Professional Recordings and Performances
Deep listening exposes us to diverse interpretive perspectives.

3. Study Scores and Resources
By delving into scores and the circumstances surrounding a composition’s creation, we gain fresh insights.

4. Deepen Emotional Connections
To tap into deeper emotions, we might consider what images, feelings, or storylines a piece might evoke.

5. Experiment
The Musician's Way book coverWe might change practice settings or instruments, exaggerate our dynamics and timing, or improvise on a piece’s themes. Then, we can craft our far-flung ideas into coherent forms.

6. Schedule Coaching Sessions
When we request feedback from fellow musicians, we open ourselves to different viewpoints, which can lead to creative breakthroughs beyond what we could attain on our own.

See The Musician’s Way for holistic approaches to interpretation, practice, and performance.

Related posts
7 Essentials of Artistic Interpretation
The Art of Spontaneity
Beautiful Repetition
Generating Emotional Depth
Performance-Oriented Practice

© 2012 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © G. Johnston, licensed from