Thoughts on composing, teaching and performing music, by Fergus Black

A pencil - 2B, the only hardness allowed for marking music


I recently came across a comment by Richard Egarr of the AAM, in an interview for the Cambridge Alumnus Magazine. Does anyone else do this? Ban pencils in rehearsals?

An interview with Richard Egarr

I try and involve singers in my choirs with the process of deciding how the music goes: often I get "Why don't you just tell us?", or even worse, after the concert, "Sorry that came apart, we had rehearsed it at different speeds and couldn't remember which one to go at." ("Try watching!")

I wonder if Mr Egarr can rehearse and perform on the fly because he works with the very best.

I do quite a bit of work with blind musicians, who very much follow Egarr's injunction about pencils! I am the opposite - I write everything into the copy.

David Willcocks is alleged to have said that every choir member should bring three pencils to rehearsals - one for themselves, one for the singer on their right and one for the singer on their left.

Seeing what choir member actually write in their scores can be salutary - I once offered to rub markings out of library scores after a concert. Heavens! Some of the scores were virgin - unmarked, others were an untidy mess - too many had breath marks in the wrong place, dynamics on the wrong page, and so on.

What is one to do?

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