Fundamentals of Great Playing–Dr. Steven Harlos

Question: What are the characteristics of great playing?

1. basic approach to instrument

  • beautiful tone
  • variety of tone colors
  • evenness
  • clarity of articulation
  • beautiful phrasing
  • technical mastery
  • piano: masterful use of pedal

2. musical concept

  • vital and precise rhythm
  • effective choice of tempos
  • natural rubato
  • harmonic awareness
  • sense of structure
  • stylistic awareness (performance practice)
  • musical taste
  • musical ideas (personality)
  • artistic vision
  • communication
  • stage presence
  • macrocosmic and microcosmic vision

3. performance

  • concentration
  • ease of execution (juggler’s art)
  • freedom of expression
  • spontaneity
  • projection of ideas
  • stage presence
  • true to nature of the composition
  • faithful to the score in all details
  • awareness of key moments
  • communication

4. ensemble playing

  • thinking and playing as one
  • inspiring one another (not a blotting paper)
  • intimate knowledge of the other’s part
  • easy to work with
  • memory of points covered in rehearsal
  • absolute tempo recall
  • supportive without taking over
  • quick reflexes (if things go differently )

3 Responses to “Fundamentals of Great Playing–Dr. Steven Harlos”

  1. Arlene Shrut Says:

    Steve, thanks so much for starting this site and for your initial entries here. Your list of what makes great collaborative playing is beautifully conceived and categorized. A great reminder for those of us who spend our lives dedicated to the joy of joining our musical spirits with those of others.

  2. steveharlos Says:

    Thank you for your kind words. Stop by any time!

  3. Jules Elias Says:

    I purchased Benniana from you several months back and reached a level of competence that would allow me to put it out there live. I would like to hear a recording of this piece on your web page. Could you direct me ? Jules Elias

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