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Rehearsal Marks

In longer pieces of music, I’m a fan of rehearsal marks. These are letters or numbers that give reference points so that, for example, the conductor can ask for ‘section B’ or ‘the pickup into H’ and everyone knows where they are. I prefer letters and I thought my least favourite was numbers unrelated to the bar numbers. I don’t recall playing a piece of music so complex that we’ve needed all the letters of the alphabet and, if we did, they could always be doubled up.

One of the pieces we did for Saturday (and which I redid for my own convenience before the gig) gave me a new least favourite – large numbers every five bars, regardless of what the music is doing. My part has quite a lot of long, repeated sections and, if I lose count, I rely on things like double bar lines and rehearsal marks to make an educated guess about where I am. If the big numbers duplicate the role of the bar numbers, that doesn’t help – in fact, I found it actively hindered me.

To all who write down music (and as a reminder to myself when I do so) – the aim is to communicate clearly to the musician and make it as easy as possible for them to play it correctly.

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