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How to Play Music Expressively

While there are several factors that contribute to the expressiveness of a musical performance, dynamics and articulations are two of the most basic tools we have to work with. Refinement and control of these aspects of making music can help us improve our skills on our instruments and enable us to play more expressively.

Time Expressions is a series of organized exercises, melodies, and duets that focus on dynamics and articulations in music. It is part of Kyle Coughlin’s educational series, the Time Focus Music Method. As a guided practice manual, Time Expressions features a step-by-step approach to learning and developing your music skills with lessons on dynamic contrasts, crescendos and decrescendos, slurs, staccatos, and accents. Like all of the Time Focus music methods, it focuses on one or two elements of music at a time, so you can give your undivided attention to improving your expressive skills.

Time Expressions can be used for individual study or for rehearsing with other musicians in an ensemble of any size. Follow the links below for instruction and practice exercises on each of the listed topics. To receive a free sample PDF of the first lesson in the Time Expressions book, sign up for occasional newsletters (we will not sell or give away your email to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time - see the disclaimer). You will be sent a link to a page with free downloads for Time Expressions for each instrument. Select a link below for explanations and exercises on the following dynamics and articulations topics.

Part 1 - Dynamics
Lesson 1 - Big Contrasts - Piano and Forte
Lesson 2 - Moderate Contrasts - Mezzo Piano and Mezzo Forte
Lesson 3 - Extended Range - Pianissimo and Fortissimo
Lesson 4 - Gradual Changes - Crescendo and Decrescendo
Part 2 - Articulations
Lesson 5 - Slurs
Lesson 6 - Staccatos
Lesson 7 - Accents
Lesson 8 - Putting It Together - Articulations and Dynamics