What is Musicianship?

We set up this project, Loving & Living Music, to explore and promote musicianship. It’s a topic I’ve always been passionate about.

However, in our initial conversations I realised how fuzzy my idea of musicianship actually was – is it a set of skills, personal qualities, an attitude, or some mix of these and other things?

So what is it?

Like any confused person in the internet age I turned to Google. The first result was a vague dictionary definition, simply stating that musicianship is ‘artistry in music’. More useful was the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music syllabus for their Practical Musicianship exam, which has this to say:

Musicianship is a broad concept that covers a complex range of musical abilities…it is loosely defined as the ability to ‘think in sound’. This occurs when a musician is able to produce music which they perceive internally and in the imagination, whether through playing by ear, singing, reading from notation, or through improvisation.

This definition has elements of what I understand as musicianship but, as the ABRSM note, it’s only part of the story. So what else goes into musicianship? Is it the same for all musicians or does it change from one genre to another? I’ll be posting soon about what I think it is; watch this blog for that and, please, use this space to voice your own opinions and ideas.

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3 thoughts on “What is Musicianship?

  1. It may seem obvious, but I would add the ability to listen and play at the same time – particularly crucial when playing with others, but also alone – I would say the ratio of doing to listening is equally balanced when you’re in the zone; another way of putting it would be that you become the music and the audience.

    • Ben Hillyard says:

      Thanks for contributing JA. I wholeheartedly agree, listening is a hugely important part of being a musician, and the subject of my next post. I love your idea of a balance between doing and listening!

  2. […] on from last week’s post, I want to talk about listening. For me, listening is a fundamental element of musicianship and, […]

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