The Magic of Musical Expression

Written by guest blogger and Cornerstone student Silvana Ferrarin

I remember a day in my sophomore year of high school when everything just fell apart. My parents had gotten into a fight at home, and I had just found out that I had literally failed my math final. Not to mention that a love confession had gone horribly wrong, and my favourite TV series had gone on a hiatus. I had sat there on my bed, mulling over the events that had reduced me to an emotional wreck.

I decided to drown my sorrows in music—not by listening to it, but by playing it myself. I remember sitting down on the bench and pressing my fingers to the cold piano keys. Then I began to play.

And it felt amazing.

Instantly, my worries and anxiety were replaced with passion and determination. I played that piano like I had never played it before, new emotions building up inside of me and being released through my fingers.

It just happens. I don’t plan out what I’m going to do when I play, like bending down low over the keys at a particular passage, or digging my bow into a string because the black dots on the page tell me to. By playing the music I play through pure emotional instinct, I am able to tell the world exactly what I feel and make a statement.

It’s a simple thing, playing with emotion. You either do it or you don’t. You are either the one standing in a stiff position, playing your instrument with mechanical movements, or you are the one swaying, frowning, smiling, and moving while playing. One earns conventional clapping, while the other earns silence, and then thunderous applause with a standing ovation. You can call it catharsis, you can call it over exaggerating, but it is something entirely different.

I used to laugh at my stand partner in orchestra during my freshman year of high school. I thought he looked silly swaying and closing his eyes while playing pieces by Mendelssohn—how could playing the same note in the same monotonous rhythm produce such emotion? I later learned during my sophomore year that every note meant something, every note deserved to have a voice. Playing with emotion has opened a new world for me and has helped me mature more as a musician.

During every day orchestra rehearsals, I sway and put my full effort into playing, despite the awkward stiffness coming from the players around me. When I perform piano pieces, I am not afraid to break a key or two.

I believe in expressing myself when I play music. I believe in becoming one with my instrument, not being afraid to pound every chord on the piano, producing intense vibrato when I play my viola. It produces a sense that I am in control of the sounds I produce; I am in control in expressing my feelings through my instrument. When playing music with such emotion, I am able to gain a better understanding of myself.

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