Musical Expression on Wind Instruments: Perspectives from a Panel of Experts

Brian K. Gibbs


Musical expression, or a performer’s interpretation of the aesthetic message intended by the composer, involves thoughtful manipulation of perceptual variables such as dynamics, tempo, articulation, and timbre. Musical expression is commonly associated with artistry and achievement in music, yet research on pedagogy for teaching musical expression to wind instrumentalists is limited. The purpose of this study is to use perspectives from professional wind instrumentalists and conductors to explore how musical expression on wind instruments is demonstrated and measured. The qualitative tradition of the Delphi method, with three rounds of data collection, provided the structure for answering the research questions. The importance of effectively communicating musical interpretation through performance was a recurring theme within the data collection as well as the literature review. Findings suggest that a performer’s abilities both to appropriately analyze the music and then to successfully communicate his or her interpretation of the music to a listener are critical for achieving artistry in musical expression. The study may provide valuable insight for a deeper understanding of pedagogical strategies needed for teaching musical expression to wind instrumentalists.


Interpretation, Music education, Musical expression; Wind instrument, Wind pedagogy.

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