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3 Tips To Play Together From the Heart

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: October 23, 2014 at 9:09 AM [UTC]

In this episode of Violin Lounge TV I answer a question from one of our viewers Maddy. She writes:
Hi, I think you should do a video on not just learning how to play the notes in a piece but to really put passion or some umph into it.

My whole band and I struggle with that. We just play the notes but not the things that make it a song.

You seem very passionate about violin and I think that would help alot of people to learn how to enjoy playing music but playing with your heart. If this is at all possible I think this would make a great video. How to play the music not just the notes.


You are lucky, because I have already made a video about this subject of not just playing the notes. In this video I turn one of the most boring etudes into beautiful music. I explain how you can do this too with the pieces you are currently playing. Watch it here: How To Make that Boring Piece Sound Like Beautiful Music?

When you are playing together, it can be different to play from the heart. A lot of musical ideas, visualizations etc happen inside your head. I recommend watching the above video first and then going into this video to learn how you can do this together.

Here are 3 tips how to play from the heart together:

1) Dare to do it! A lot of people can pour there deepest feelings into their music when they are alone in their practice room. However, when they are performing or playing together, they are just playing the notes and worrying about what other people will think about them.

Dare to be different, to exaggerate, to express yourself, to try out different things and to play the same piece in very different ways.

Playing around will make your music better and more interesting. Don’t be afraid to show your feelings for your music.

2) Visualize with your band and talk about it! Talk about what you see in your head when you think about, listen to or play this music? What do you all think this music is about? What kind of images do you see? People can have very different views on the same piece played by the same people.

In your band you should exchange your different thoughts and ideas. All this different thoughts together can make great creative ideas and results.

It’s important that in the end you all agree on the ideas. When one person thinks it’s a romantic piece and the other thinks it’s an angry piece. When you play together it will sound weird.

When you agree about the ideas behind your music and your band will become a unity. You will not be separate persons playing the right notes together and trying to be in the same rhythm.

3) This last tip will sound weird: to able to play from the heart, technique plays a very important part. You might think technique is separate from the emotional side of music.

Imagine: when you are writing a poem in a language you are not so familiar with. You will be struggling to find the right words and to find the right expressions. You don’t have the material to express what you want to say. This is the same for music: you need to have the right tools to be able to express yourself. 

For example: when you want to sound sad or romantic and you know 25 ways of vibrato, you can color your sound more than when you just know 1 way of vibrato. It’s the same for tone production: when you have explored all the ways your instrument can sound, then you can put your heart in the music.

I see lots of people struggling with the technical side of expression. They feel a lot when making music and have lots of ideas, but they are not able to communicate this through their instrument to someone else. This ‘someone else’ can be a band member or the audience.

Don’t forget this technical part of expression, even when it sounds like a contradiction to you. Making music or playing the violin and viola is one whole thing anyway. Everything depends on everything.

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

From Michael Fox
Posted on October 25, 2014 at 12:35 AM
I really like your last point -that technique is a really important part of self-expression.
I think some people, when they're just starting out, don't realize that practicing and exercise is building their creativity and helping them learn how to express themselves with more confidence. Knowing this really helps a lot in helping a student get the motivation to actually pay attention and practice.

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