Tone Development Through Interpretation

“You are a beginner every day.”

My teacher instilled those words throughout my studies at North Texas. I remember walking to practice, coffee in hand, meditating on objectives for my morning routine. Breathing, posture, tone, articulation, vibrato, releases, octaves…all were skills that I constantly sought, and still seek, to develop.

In August 2013, I auditioned for the West Point Band. I was offered a position and spent five months away from playing, most of my time at Basic Combat Training. Upon completion, I was eager to begin practicing again. With a fresh perspective, I acknowledged that my approach to fundamentals was isolated and mundane. Because creativity must be practiced, like any other skill, I approach Moyse’s Tone Development Through Interpretation in an organic manner. Selecting one melody a week, creates a deeper understanding in my interpretation. I study the excerpts alongside my warmup routine, which includes Moyse’s, De La Sonorite. For example, after practicing “Suppleness in the Low Register,” I study an excerpt in the third category of Tone Development Through Interpretation (“register: low diversified expression”). This juxtaposition ensures I practice fundamentals in context and with purpose. While practicing, there are several strategies I use to deepen my understanding and boost creativity.

For example, I am studying ‘excerpt no. 5’, from Reinecke’s Undine Sonata. Below are strategies I implemented throughout the week:

  • Sing on an “o” syllable.
  • Play the ‘skeletal’ notes without vibrato; fill in intervals with chromatic and diatonic scale.
  • Play as written without vibrato; incorporate dynamics; lastly include vibrato.
  • Transpose a phrase to every key.
  • Memorize.
  • Practice an octave higher, and also incorporate harmonic fingerings.

There are several strategies with which I approach Moyse’s Tone Development ThroughInterpretation. These excerpts have boosted my creativity and musical approach, while instilling enjoyment and dimension to my practice and performance.