Confident entrances

April 18, 2017

It’s deceptively difficult to make a correct entrance after a rest. Here’s what I recommend for maximum confidence and security:

  • Listen in advance. If recordings are available, listen many times. Get the sound well ingrained in your ear of your collaborative musicians’ parts, and how your part fits it. Be able to sing along with the music that happens during your rests.
  • Count. It’s easy to let this slip away when under pressure or distracted. I sometimes write into my part little reminders to count, or add marks to show visually where the beats are, or even write the counting itself into the part (1 2 3 4 | 2 2 3 4…).
  • Sketch. If your part doesn’t show cues as to what your collaborators are playing, write in their rhythms. Rough out a melodic contour if you like. (Not enough room? Write in the margins with some arrows to show you where to look. Or copy your part, cut it up, and tape it back together with more space for annotations. This is a solvable problem.)

Basically I assume that it will be a less-intelligent version of myself who shows up to rehearsal or performance, and try to give him enough ways of keeping track that he can’t miss. (At my faculty solo recital last August, I missed a major entrance in a piece that I know well, and missed it by a lot. I had it down cold, but dumber performance-mode me botched it. That video didn’t make it to YouTube.)