Preventing accidents with pencil marks

September 19, 2017

After some recent windy weather I saw someone in my neighborhood cutting up some fallen tree branches with a chainsaw. He wore jeans and sneakers and handled the saw with something less than familiarity.

Later, I saw a professional tree removal crew working at a similar task. They operated their chainsaws expertly and with confidence, and wore helmets, eye and ear protection, and heavy protective clothing.

I thought the amateur might really be the one in need of safety gear. But the professionals showed up equipped to do the job right, do it promptly, and do it without mishaps.

Sometimes my students seem reluctant to make markings in their sheet music. I think some of them believe that penciling in a reminder of a key signature or fingering choice somehow indicates amateurism, that a better musician  would be able to play successfully without extra aids.

I prefer to gear up like a pro. No matter how confident I am of my abilities, I’d much rather save time and prevent accidents by putting some pencil marks in place. Why spend practice hours trying to remember a flat here or a trill key there when I can solve the problem permanently and in a matter of seconds with a quick marking? Why risk getting momentarily distracted and missing an entrance when a few judicious cue notes can provide a helpful reminder?

Any pencil mark that can shore up your preparation is worth making. Don’t wield a chainsaw or a clarinet without taking necessary precautions.

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