Knowing the whole score of a piece - it's not just a job for the conductor!
When you are playing a solo piece, it helps greatly to know what is happening in the piano part, or in the orchestra part.
Of course, I can't say that I grew up studying scores, I simply did not. When I learned a piece, I always learned it from the violin part, without really looking at the piano or orchestra part. That's not to say I knew nothing of those parts - I always listened to recordings, and that does give one an awareness. But certainly, knowing the full score gives one a fuller awareness!
The good news is that it's never been easier to find scores (on the Internet!) or to be able to read your part from a score. Reading from an orchestra part requires a ton of page turns, and even reading from a piano score requires a lot more turns than simply reading from the violin part. But if you have an iPad and a pedal page-turner, suddenly the idea of reading from a score becomes much more do-able.
I learned this when I spoke last year to the Viano String Quartet - they they often read from the entire quartet score, so they could see each other's parts in real time, as they performed. And what made it possible was the fact that they all read from iPads. That way, for starters, they weren't all trying to read from one score, as the music would not come with four score parts! So all four of them could download the score to their iPads, and then they could easily handle the page turns with the pedals.
A whole new world!
Of course, it is not at all necessary to have an iPad, to read and study the full score of a concerto, quartet or any other piece! You simply need to get the score, and in fact, you can often get "mini scores" or "pocket scores" for concertos that are a little smaller than a normal-size sheet music and are meant for reference. (For example, all the Mozart concerti).
Now, if you have never even thought of looking at a score when learning a concerto or chamber piece, please don't feel bad! I'm mostly doing this vote to explore the idea of using the score, to get people thinking about it, and to explore the ways technology makes it all more do-able.
What is your experience with reading scores? Is it something you do regularly, or do you pretty much learn from your own individual part? Do you ever use a score for reference? Would you consider reading from a score, if you had the right set up? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts and experiences!
Many thanks to Eugene Watanabe for the idea for this week's vote. If you have an idea for the Weekend Vote, please e-mail me. I welcome your ideas!
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