The Practice Tip sent out this week included ideas for writing in your sheet music to make practicing easier.  Though some musicians want to keep their music in mint condition, writing in your music helps musicians learn faster.

This practice tip brought up some ideas for using sheet music during a performance also.

There seem to be two big issues when reading music during a performance: page turns and dealing with multi-page charts of loose sheets.

To make page turns easier, there are two main strategies: (1) memorize the first few notes of the following page when you have a particularly fast page turn, and (2) dog ear the corner of the paper to make sure you can easily grip the page and that you’ll only turn a single page at a time.

With unbound multi-page charts, there are again two main solutions: (1) always tape the pages together so they stay in order and (2) write a note to yourself if you will need to turn your pages before you get to the end of a page.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of taping your music together.  Using loose sheets is an open invitation for Murphy and his law (Whatever can go wrong will go wrong) to visit you during your performance.

Many years ago during an adjudicated performance, I failed to tape my music together.  Even though the pages were in order thirty minutes earlier during a last-minute runthrough–and I was sure I put them back in order after that runthrough–the pages were out of order during my performance.

I was able to keep playing and avoid a complete train wreck, but I was a mental wreck as I worried about finding the next page.  Believe me, you never want to experience this level of panic during a performance!

When you tape all of these pages together, you will end up with an accordian-like stack of paper that can be either moved across your music stand or used like a booklet allowing you to turn pages.  You may need to use two music stands or music stand extensions if you have a particularly long chart.

Sheet music is a tool to make your playing easier.  Use this tool any way you can to get the job done!

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