October 11, 2012 at 1:12 AMAfter a long and precious summer, I'm sure many of you are once again busy preparing for the new concert season. I will be playing my first concert of the season in about two weeks and I'd like to share with you my process for getting ready and perhaps hear some of yours, if you'd care to leave a comment.
1. First Reading: I like to read through my part first without having listened to any recordings to see what I can pick up from the music itself. Then I'll know what to focus on when I...
2. Listen to a Recording: with a full score. This helps me to find out where my part fits in. If the piece is particularly complex, I'll follow along the score a few times over the following days, until I feel I have a good sense of the structure.
3. Practicing Excerpts: In the following order, openings, endings, fast sections, high fingerboard position sections.
4. Playing Along With The Recording: If steps 1-3 are solid, then I like to play along with the recording to get a sense of how it might feel in rehearsal and to get used to not going back to correct mistakes.
I think that's about it. Admittedly, since my life isn't filled with spare time, I'm usually this thorough when playing with a new ensemble for the first time. Is this similar to what you do? Feel free to share any tips you have in the comments section.
I have to say I don't have much to add, because what you do is almost exactly what I do! I like to compare/contrast recordings too. If there are difficult rhythms, I put down the instrument and clap it out first, esp. if the notes are crazy and random :).
The only thing I don't do that you do (which I admire that you do) is stop drinking. Sometimes, admittedly, I drink a beer after rehearsal as a way of self-medicating. Though I am trying to be more cautious of my intake, as I agree it does affect things. I try to drink a lot of water before rehearsal, because though I don't breath into my instrument, a brain with a lack of water equals a lack of oxygen, equaling a not-as-good rehearsal for me.
Cheers to you as you begin the new season!
I also don't always get a whole lot out of playing through my own part first before listening to a recording. Sometimes I do, if it's a composer or piece that is familiar, but with something modern or completely unfamiliar I can get bogged down and lost just trying to read through my own part in isolation. I can imagine that would be different for pros though.
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