Thursday, September 24, 2009

Minding the Score

On Monday, The Hartford Chorale – some 170 members strong this season! – began rehearsals for our November performances of Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms.

In earlier posts, I’ve written about Maestro Coffey’s practice of providing “master scores” from which the singers are expected to copy into their own scores his instructions for breathing, interpretive dynamics, divisi assignments, etc. These advance markings and annotations, as well as the translations, must be entered into one’s score before the first rehearsal. Really, though, this process must be completed before one can begin any serious personal practice.

At Monday’s Chorale rehearsal, it was painfully obvious that too many singers had not edited their scores; there were too many instances of misplaced cutoffs, wrong dynamics, etc. We had to stop again and again to correct the errors and communicate information which had already been made available. It was a huge waste of time and energy that should have been invested in the music.

Still, it’s less of a problem in The Hartford Chorale now than it was a few years ago. Here’s a terrible piece that I jotted down a few years ago in response to a similar situation.


Chorale rehearsals have begun!
We’re glad to see each other.
We’ve got new scores to learn and love
and share with one another.

But don’t forget this crucial step
in preparing for rehearsal;
it will prevent your own mis-step
and save us from reversal.

Each chorister must mark his score
(each choristress, hers, too);
and yes, this must be done before
we sing them through on “doo.”

It needn’t be a loathsome chore
for you to mark each song.
It needn’t be a tiresome bore!
It won’t take very long!

Just find the “master edit” score
that’s been prepared for you,
in which you may (with joy!) explore,
to learn it through and through.

Where to find it? Look online;
our website has it there.
You’ll find it simple to divine
the What and How and Where.

No PC? No clue? No worry!
We’ve thought of that case, too.
No need for fuss, or fret, or flurry.
Here’s all you need to do:

Just plan to arrive early
at our rehearsal hall.
On the piano, with keys so pearly,
the scores wait there for all.

Feel free to borrow all you need.
Study, read, and construe —
Take all the time you want! Indeed,
the scores are there for you!

Your efforts therein will bring rewards
as you better learn each piece;
You’ll quicker master all the chords
and be ready for each release!

Questions? Comments? Help is here!
Just ask your section leaders.
They’re all friendly and of good cheer
(and really good sight-readers).

So, singer, find the master score
with telling marks set down;
don’t delay, we do implore,
lest you invoke a frown

from those whose scores, already marked,
are ready to rehearse,
and who, if much delayed by you
may chide you with a curse!

But more than this: You’ll be right glad
that you have done this study.
You’ll help our choir sound good, not bad.
You’ll keep us from sounding muddy.

You’ll enjoy the music that much more
when you have learned it well.
And the first step is to mark your score
so that you — and we — may excel.

© 2011 Quodlibet. Dissemination, re-use, or duplication prohibited except by express permission of the author.I pay attention and I will find you if you cite, republish, or use my work without credit or without attribution.

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