Eliminate the Hard Parts in Music: Editing the Score

Over at Stephen Aron Guitar Studio he talks about eliminating the hard parts and editing the score for performance. I think the main point behind this discussion is the question: what is best for the music? Now, we can’t go too far when we edit as we must give the proper amount of practice time in order to realize our own potential to play the music as written. Recently, on a newly commissioned work by my trio there was a passage that I swore I couldn’t play. I almost ended up telling the composer that I couldn’t do it. Good thing I didn’t because I eventually found a way and now play it as written! However, when it comes to students I now edit heavily. In particular for student around the level of RCM intro to grade 5, I want these students to play well and sound musical. I don’t their musical experience torn down by one phrase. Once they reach higher levels they will have enough of a foundation to either deal with an awkward passage or make subtle changes on their own.

Here’s a little excerpt from Aron’s article, follow the link and read his post:

The question must arise: is the piece simply too hard for the player’s current level of experience? Maybe so. What could be more common than a student trying a piece that is patently too difficult? And yet, as we grow and improve at our art, we inevitably encounter material that is genuinely too hard in a piece that is otherwise perfect for us. It is part of the process to push our playing up another level to introduce works with new challenges. So it is a universal concern. We look for the sweet spot in new repertoire: just enough new challenges to help us grow, but not so much that we feel overwhelmed or defeated. So we are inevitably confronted by these intransigent hard parts that just seem to elude us. How do we “eliminate” them?

There are four categories of activity that will help to achieve this goal: better practicing, improving fingering, working with the interpretation, and, as a last resort, editing the score.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE via Eliminate the Hard Parts: Editing the Score | Stephen Aron Guitar Studio.


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  1. reduce the ‘hard part’ to a maximum of three notes (it could even be ONE if it’s hard to unfold the hand and then go quickly to it) and play these one hundred times, at least ten times a day…often difficult parts hide in this fashion in longer passages you think are hard, as only a few notes…after a week you will have it (you must take two days off in the middle though)