When it comes to phrasing, tempo and dynamics are two of the most important musical topics.
In particular, let's focus on the relationship between tempo and dynamics.
The natural tendency is to link changes in tempo with changes in dynamics and vise versa. For instance, if a song moves into a much louder bridge section, the tendency is to rush the tempo.
To achieve mastery in your phrasing though, you have to develop complete control over both tempo and dynamics. Here are a couple exercises to develop your control.
1. Turn on your metronome and play through a chord progression. Start at a very quiet dynamic level. Over the course of 8 bars, crescendo to forte, then go back down over the next 8 bars to the original dynamic level. The key with this exercise is to keep a consistent tempo along with your dynamic changes.
2. Now let's up the ante. This time we'll do the same exercise, but as the we increase the dynamics we'll also slow the tempo down. If your metronome doesn't have this capability, you can still give this exercise a try keeping time on your own.
These exercises will bring any tempo troubles to light with a quickness, enabling you to make the necessary adjustments and develop excellent control of your instrument. Give it a shot, and as always I'd love to hear your comments or questions below.
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