Think You Own Your Sheet Music? Think Again.

by   |  May 24, 2012
Think you own your sheet music? Not until you mark it up.

Think you own your sheet music? Not until you mark it up.

You may think you own your sheet music, but there’s only one way to tell.   How much do you make it a part of yourself?
Think about it.   When you borrow music from a friend or a teacher, you’re often too afraid to touch it, or do much else with it for that matter.   By contrast, owning your own sheet music gives you the freedom to do whatever you want with it—as long as it’s legal, of course.   So how can you get the most out of owning your own sheet music?


Mark it up, baby!

Highlight your part.   Making your part stand out helps you stay on track while turning pages.   This is especially helpful if it’s an orchestral score because your eyes will quickly distinguish your part from all the other ones.


Take notes.   Write notes on dynamics and other indications of how the piece should be performed.   If you’re blocking or choreographing the piece—as you would in a solo vocal score—write down your movements.   Here’s an even more novel idea: write down what your teacher tells you in your lessons!


Break it up.   Circle parts that are tricky and require extra practice.   Don’t be embarrassed.   Nobody will judge you.   If you mark these areas in pencil, you can always erase them later.


Translate it.   In classical music especially, it’s common to see Italian or German indications of how you’re supposed to perform the piece.   If you don’t know what these words mean, find an online translator and write the English words on your sheet music.   If it’s a vocal score with foreign lyrics, write the translation for these words, too.   Make note of unusual vowels and consonants.


Create symbols.   You will naturally develop your own shorthand and symbols as you develop the habit of marking up your music.   In my scores, for example, I mark tri-tones with a triangle—naturally.   You may use IPA to help you with pronouncing foreign words, or you may come up with your own system.   The most effecting method is the one that works for you.


The more you go to town with marking up your score, the more you pride you will take in owning your sheet music.   Have fun!

More on: Classical Music, Education, For Music Students, Music Teacher, Practicing
About the Author:

Having achieved so many of her own dreams, Mimi West has devoted her career to paying it forward to the rising generation of musicians. You can follow her on Twitter @mydreamteacher.
Publshed: May 24, 2012  | 
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