As a pianist, I define myself a "typist with no heart".
My fingers work well, I can't complain about my technique, my small hands are flexible and fast, I can read and reproduce the dots on the score quite well but, apparently according to my mentors and colleagues, I don't switch on my heart while I perform. "What does it mean being musical? What do you need to have to be musical? Does anyone can be musical? Is it a quality that belong to a certain élite? I just can't understand." I am aware that learning is a process where one needs to accept criticism and different opinions. I also think that it is quite tough to take when, most of the times, I hear teachers and colleagues saying: "You could sound more musical." Than, when I ask them to explain what they mean, their comments start being more vague like: " You need to put more feeling in it", "It is the way how you feel and respond to the harmonies", "you need to put more character and personality!"
In my small world, I think that musicality is strictly connected to one's personality, to one's way to feel and make relationship with people, nature and world.
It is extremely fascinating that audience can see the artist personality through a recital or even a couple of minutes of performance. At the same time, it is very challenging for the performer to find the balance between freedom to express oneself and to communicate the composer's style and language. In my opinion, execution is a "dry" way to reproduce what it is written on a score without taking any risk. It might be correct as it is a performance based on standards and objective aspects which cannot be criticised (for example, correct interpretation of style and language of a composer. A big, bold sound that could be used for Rachmaninov or Liszt, it is not suitable for Debussy). Interpretation is re-creation and it applies some risks. I think it is strictly related to execution as I believe that it is fundamental to know the rules before breaking them and finding space to express one's personality within them. Each artist has its own way to interpret a composer's language. Sometimes, while I am learning a song or a chamber music piece, I experienced myself that magical moment when I am on the same wavelength with the music. I am playing and everything flows naturally. I consider music as a parallel life and each new piece of music that I approach as a chapter of life that I previously experienced, I am experiencing or as a totally new adventure!
Unfortunately, that magic moment when I feel one with the music doesn't happen that often and here's the way I usually approach new repertoire: 1) listening to recordings; 2) writing translation if I am working on a song; 3) in the first week, I aim to achieve confidence in playing the notes correctly at a slow speed. I work as much as possible hands separately; 4) playing and listening to the harmonies, checking their relationship with the text if it is a song or creating my own setting if it a chamber music work. I like finding connections with paintings, poetry, books. Somehow, I need to feed my imagination!; 5) during rehearsals with singers and instrumentalists, I try to share my ideas and my way of working on the piece on my own. I must admit that, sometimes it doesn't work if I am not feeling comfortable with my partners. Somehow, I feel embarrassed to share those "intimate" thoughts! I consider rehearsals as learning moments when I discover new way of practising or different way of thinking music; 6) doing research about the work I am approaching, composer and style. Internet is my favourite, immediate source of knowledge; 7) when I feel free and technically confident, I make my own "movie" while I am performing. This helps to keep me engaged during the whole performance and be in the moment; 8) Last but not least: listening and keep asking questions to myself: "how do I interpret this sign, indication?", "what the composer mean to express by this harmony, rhythm, dynamics mark etc..."?, "how should I communicate a certain feeling to the audience?" I really enjoy this process but, unfortunately it doesn't come across while I perform. Sometimes I feel very frustrated because I genuinely put lots of efforts, feeling, heart and it is tough to take when people who listen to me are saying that the things are missing are the ones I believe I am putting in. I love music, I love piano, I love what I am doing, I love sharing this passion to other people, I don't mind stress, working hard and I give all myself in my art.
Passion for Music is not only love and fun but as the etymology of the word suggests, in fact Passion comes from the Latin "Pati" to suffer, is also pain for reaching our illusion of Perfection.