Writing in sheet music to make practicing music easier was the topic of this week’s Practice Tip of the Week.  A comment I made about using pencil and erasing marks when they’re no longer needed has brought up a question:

Can’t it be counter-productive to erase marks you’ve made in your music?

Erasing certain marks will make practicing and learning your music more difficult.  For instance, if you have written in fingerings or position numbers, you should keep this written information in your part.  These numbers are there when you need them and easy to ignore when they’re no longer necessary.

The specific marking I was recommending to erase had to do with the Tough Stuff.  I use the term “Tough Stuff” to describe all the very difficult sections of music that need extra work just to make them playable.

My recommendation is to circle or bracket these sections very lightly with a pencil.  When one area of Tough Stuff has been mastered–meaning you can play it smoothly at the same tempo you can play the rest of the piece–then I recommend that you erase your penciled-in circle.

Here’s why I recommend erasing these circles:

I have seen problems occur for my students when they do not erase their markings for Tough Stuff.  What happens is they will play through their music and see the circle coming up in a few bars.  They will get nervous about something difficult that’s about to happen even when they have fully mastered that section and it’s no longer hard for them to play.

The memory of the difficulty and fear they encountered when they first started working on the piece lingers.  It’s as if that section has a stigma.

When my students erase their markings, this issue doesn’t come up.

This is why the circles must be in pencil and VERY light when they’re first made.  Once they’re erased, you want no memory that the mark was ever there in the first place.

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