You need one!
To mark your score!
Very often, musicians pride themselves on being able to remember everything. Some even see it as a personal failing if they forget.
But what’s the point?
There is no reason not to mark the score. Requiring oneself to remember everything does nothing to enhance a performance. And the audience can’t see your music, anyway.
When someone expects to remember unmarked instructions and then forgets something, that slows down the rehearsal both for her/him and for everyone else.
One example: marking the score can help a singer find an elusive pitch. I circle a pitch in another voice part that I have trouble finding in my own part later. By marking my pitch earlier as well as the one I need to sing, I can blast the pitch in my brain, ignoring everything else.
Marking the score moves the eye along to facilitate reading.
- repeated bars can be marked with big numbers
- the next bar (leaving the repetition) can be circled
- the one pitch that’s different in otherwise identical phrases can be circled
- a fingering that is missed several times can be rewritten larger
- the first note on a staff/page can be written at the end of the previous staff/page
- when the number of staves per page changes, an arrow can go in the left margin next to your part
- mark repeats, coda, dal segno, and other markings you need to see quickly
- when a repeat requires turning back more than one page, write in the number
- circle any meter or key changes you need to, and write in an advance alert
Marking the score for collaborative work:
mark singers’ breaths in the piano part where you can see them
write a word-for-word translation in the music above the singer’s line
a wavy line works for anything that takes more time to sing or play (i.e., a word beginning with several consonants, a string player’s shift)
Marking the score for pit orchestra:
Normal pit lighting is terrible. During one run, I found that I couldn’t see my penciled markings on a hand-written part. There were several errors and huge cuts, so finding a way to make a road map was crucial.
During the dress rehearsal, I noticed a trumpet player’s part. She had marked the cuts with neon stick-on arrows. So I bought some and did the same.
Don’t be shy ~ you need to know where to look in the music!
One exception: keeping written notes about something that will change frequently, such as metronome markings when you are increasing the tempo of a piece. Those numbers will be changed so often, they are better recorded in a practice log. Frequent erasures in printed scores make holes in the paper.
You will find more about keeping a practice log in my new E-book.
So, what score-marking tricks do you use? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comment section below!
While you’re here, please visit the info page for my new E-book! “Goal-oriented Practice: How to Avoid Traps and Become a Confident Performer.” ~ about making steady progress without getting stuck!