Should a soloist play with score on stage?

It is an old discussion but in times where everywhere concerts are videotaped more active than ever:
Who in classical music has “permission” to go with score on stage?

First some words about the brain levels on stage:
1.Rallyedriver-modus: Your brain tells you exactly the next information, like the copilot in a rallyecar
2.Photographicbrain-modus: You visualize the exact score and play like if it was there and you are reading it
3.Jazz-modus: You know what sound is next and you find it like a great improviser,following you audiomemory
4.Dancing-modus: Your fingers learned a structured choreography and you just repeat it
5.Analytic-modus: You exactly know the structure, including the harmonic patterns
6.Alphawaves-modus: The music is just there, you just listen while your fingers move

The ideal is of course number 6, but many players are able to do great things in all of the other modes, so let us look at them closer:
Alphawaves-modus gets destroyed with score..
Difficult with score is the dancer-modus where you don’t need the visual control with score, but if the score is prepared right it can give you a lot of help to find the next “group of steps”, it is especially for guitar an important topic that the tabulature can be more important than the knowledge about the actual note you are playing – depending also on which styles of fingering you chose!
Number 1 ,2 and 5 are supported by the score!!
Number 3 just good if it helps you to remember the next sound!
And it is normal that for different types of repertory or your personal “daily shape” you choose or even sometimes switch between the levels hopefully without anybody in the audience noticing it..

It is one of the biggest part of stagefright that musicians fear to get lost, they can be blocked by this fear and the problem is immediately solved if they are allowed to have the score with them.
I experienced that when I have the score with me that I feel more freedom in interpretation when I am not on Alpha, but in all other modus, you can always discover something new in the score, the control part of your brain is free for phantasy

and it is like in school: the things you believe you want to write on the little paper you would love to have in your pocket exactly shows your weaknesses, so it is a great step in learning a piece to prepare your score- maybe to shorten it just to the parts you need or to choose senseful pageturning moments, mark important parts with coloured pencils etc , it shows you also where to add some extra work!

When I learn a new piece after writing the fingering it is the first task to learn a piece by heart, then I start to practice it ( My mantra: “Practicing means repeating the right thing”).. and then after endless hours I like to have the score somewhere with me on stage, it is like airbag, that one moment where you might need is worth having it with you- and there is a magic about it: When the score is there, I do not need it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Author: Heike Matthiesen

classical guitarist

2 thoughts on “Should a soloist play with score on stage?”

  1. I enjoy the comfort of the score also, but once I feel stable I tend to move to #3. But then, if #3 suddenly fails, I can’t find my place in the score! Ahhh! Poor me!

    Like

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