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How to study a score before playing? (Read 807 times)

Offline coolpianoman

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How to study a score before playing?
« on: May 19, 2019, 12:05:14 PM »
I am convinced of the benefit of studying a score away from the piano before even touching the keyboard.  However I find this very hard and to be honest pretty boring so I never do it for long if at all. Anyone got some approaches or tips on how to study a piece from the score effectively, what to look for and so on? I do listen to the piece whilst reading the score but this is not really studying it in depth. Also maybe there is some guidance on here or somewhere else too? Many thanks.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: How to study a score before playing?
«Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 04:40:03 PM »
You can section up music into its parts, highlight pattern, show repetitions or patterns which are similar to one another, highlight logical patterns within the fingering (though that requires usually that you play it), you can use lots of colors to represent your observations, you can write commentary on the sheet, you can get scissors and cut up the music into the parts you want to study first, you can also copy all of the sheets if it is a large piece and paste it on a wall so you can see the entire pieces in its entirety with all the colors which define your sections and other observations etc etc.

It is good to follow a piece while listening to the music to get all the notes in your head while you read it, this helps when you learn the piece you can hear what needs to be done more readily. There is a danger of over analysing a piece, where it might be very clever to highlight all sorts of observations really only particular ones are important to act as a catalyst for you learning the actual piece, this is often identified when you are actually practicing it on the piano. So you can actually waste time doing too much of this, in the long run this is a large opportunity cost.
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Offline j_tour

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Re: How to study a score before playing?
«Reply #2 on: May 20, 2019, 02:15:22 AM »
I completely agree with Lostinidlewonder.

Actually I spend quite a bit of time just reading scores with pencil in hand.  It probably seems pretentious to some, but where other people might read a paperback novel, I'd just as soon read scores, whether I'm familiar with them or not.

And, no, I often have only a general idea of what the piece will sound like (I'm not generally doing sight-singing in my head, which for me takes a lot more concentration than I care to invest, but just the general way a tune will sound is usually there, a bit) but I'm looking at structure, noting parts that I can extract for technical studies, interesting harmonies or modulations, and usually marking up the piece with a pencil, which I don't always bother erasing if I end up reading the piece at the keyboard.  Perhaps some tentative fingerings get marked down.

Sometimes there are some interesting clues in prefatory material for other sources to track down and examine, so that all gets made note of.   I find in general, many times I'd rather read a score than get involved in some dense technical reading or a novel or suchlike in prose.

At home, I usually do all that at the keyboard, or very nearby, just because I'm much more interested in the music itself than writing a dissertation on it.  But I don't bring a keyboard with me wherever I go, and music scores can be lightweight to carry, compared to some 1000-page technical hard-bound book or something else.

Offline zebra555

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Re: How to study a score before playing?
«Reply #3 on: May 21, 2019, 09:25:29 PM »
This is something Iím interested in too as Iíve read about how important analysis is and its helpfulness in learning pieces. As a beginner I have found it difficult to make much headway on this. Recently though, I noticed that the Trinity Music Theory books have sections on score analysis which Iím finding provide good guidance and focus. You may be beyond this stage, but if not you might also find these books a good starting point.