When my students work on études (musical pieces intended for study but not performance) I stress with them the idea of making everything on the page audible. That means that if I were unfamiliar with the étude but a skilled transcriber, I could listen to my student play, and write down with confidence every:
- Dynamic marking
- Tempo change
- Breath mark
- Expressive marking, like “dolce” or “pesante” or “broadly”
- Title or form indication, like “Aria” or “Folk Dance” or “Rondo”
- And any/all other words or symbols left by the composer/editor
Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the pitches and rhythms and ignore or gloss over some of the other markings. But all of them have to be executed in a clearly audible way (otherwise, what are they there for?). If a performer technically tongues some notes but they sound slurred, then they weren’t tongued right. If some notes are marked with horizontal accents (like >), and some are marked with vertical ones (like ^), then they have to sound audibly different from each other. If the composer indicates that a certain passage should be played “dolce,” then it needs to sound audibly different from passages that don’t have that marking.
In performance repertoire, I do think there are (rare) cases when it makes sense to ignore or alter the composer or editor’s markings. But well-edited études (my students most commonly play Ferling or Rose) are an excellent opportunity to practice making each and every marking meet the ear with clarity and precision.