What are Dynamics in Music?!

I just saw an amazing singing group at Jordan Hall yesterday, called The Chicago Children's Chorus. They sang a joint concert with The Boston Children's Chorus in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. I took 25 children and their parents to see this concert. The children were age 5 - 10. Everyone knew how great they were but I'm not sure if they could say why. I'm going to try.

All of the children (they were high school aged) breathed together, came in together, and cut-off together (in their parts). Not only did they sing in perfect tune with glorious ringing notes. They filled the room with this sound, engulfing the senses with full resonating tone. It was quite amazing. But that wasn't the best part.

The best part of their performance were the delicate dynamics that they used. Every phrase started someplace and ended someplace else. Everything was not sung at the same volume, in other words. And if one phrase was sung softly, it ALWAYS had movement in it - line and flow.

Now you might be thinking, that's fine for singing, but how does that apply to playing the piano or another instrument. Well, it is the exact same thing! Whether you are playing a phrase with the keyboard or your voice, dynamics are one of the most important aspects of expressing music. Not just static dynamics but moving dynamics, that is dynamics with elasticity. Every note needs to grow away from or into it's next note and not exist as a single entity.

Watch, when you apply this principle to your piano playing, how much more beautiful the music is and how expressive you have become. Just be aware of the dynamics in your music and that simple awareness will improve the musicality of your playing immensely.