Miss It? Mark It! Part 2 (How to mark music)
This post is the second in a series about how to mark music to aid practicing. Teachers may say “Mark it,” but don’t offer specifics. Here’s one example of a time that marking the music was helpful to a student.
Emily*, a bright 16-year old student, came for her lesson tonight. I asked her to play the Irish Dance I assigned last week (from Anne McGinty’s 99 Irish Dance Tunes.) This week’s hornpipe was in F# sharp major. SIX SHARPS! Enough to make even the best players cringe. I listened as Emily played this final tune. It sounded good. Then I looked at her music and noticed that she had marked in some reminder sharps. Bravo!
Adding reminders like this to the music strengthens the memory. It takes a few seconds but can eliminate practice time wasted on wrong notes.
A good rule of thumb is that if something is missed twice, it should be marked. Always have a pencil or two within arm’s reach. Read my post on The Pencil Problem for more practice hacks concerning those pesky, disappearing pencils.
It’s easy to get caught up in the delusion that “next time I’ll remember” the missed notes. The sad truth is that there are too many things to remember when playing music. Our brains can only remember seven things at once. Free up some of that memory by adding pencil marks. Your brain will feel less cluttered because the reminder is visually available in the music.