In lessons and ensemble rehearsals, I frequently ask students to mark in something they missed—an accidental, a stylistic nuance, a breath.
Sometimes they tell me they already marked it. They assure me they will get it right the next time.
As you might guess, I am less than convinced. The marking didn’t do the trick this time, so why should it work next time? Or next week? Or in the performance, when you’re playing under pressure and with distractions?
If the marking you made didn’t work, do a better one. Can you make it…
- …more visible? Maybe beefing up that faint little pencil stroke will help. If you’re concerned about marks you might want to undo later, make photocopies and mark those (or go digital).
- …clearer in meaning? Circling a note you got wrong doesn’t add any information to the page. Instead write in the sharp you missed, or a reminder of what key you’re in, or even the note name if that helps. You can use symbols if you will be 100% clear on what they mean (even under pressure), but don’t be afraid to use words.
- …earlier? If you keep forgetting to do the crescendo in measure 32, consider putting a reminder in bar 28 that it’s coming up. That gives you an extra moment to process it mentally and be prepared before the crucial moment arrives.
Every marking should make your playing better. If it doesn’t, change it!