• Michelle Ostrove


How a singer or piano player conveys a musical thought is a creative process. Musical phrasing is how a singer or piano player breaks down a song into musical ideas. Distinct and unique musical phrasing is essential for a compelling performance.

For a singer, musical phrasing creates a recognizable and unique quality for their voice. The phrasing is all about how the singer shapes every line in a song. It’s a combination of a few things: pitch, dynamics (loudness & softness), tone, diction (enunciation), emphasis and more. The use of phrasing creates a unique and distinctively different sound for a vocalist. Just singing the words on a page will put your audience to sleep; using expressive phrasing makes your voice sound better. Think of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to the late President J.F. Kennedy.

For piano, musical phrasing is just as important. The musical phrase comes to life with crescendos (gradual loudness and softness), note values, tone quality, staccatos and more. These elements in a musical phrase create emotion for the listening audience. Think of the songs “Fur Elise” or Beethoven’s 5th Symphony” very memorable and loved phrasing and you can hear all the different elements in the phrasing. All you need is the first six notes to recognize the songs. In each phrase the crescendos, note values, tone quality creates musical phrasing masterpieces!

It takes time and practice to create compelling musical phrases that move a listener. But once you get the hang of it, the process becomes a natural flow. Listen to Audrey Diaz phrasing when she sings “Talking To The Moon.” The phrasing is unique and distinctly her own!


How do you wake up Lady Gaga? Poker Face!

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