Here is a checklist of important things to do BEFORE you put your holiday music away for another year. These tips will help you prepare now to enjoy a more relaxed holiday time next year.
Over the years and the course of many holiday concerts and parties, I have learned some valuable lessons. I’d like to share with you what I have learned as a few steps which, if you take them now, will save you much preparation time and fluster next holiday season. Happy New Year!
1. Clean up your markings. Take the time to erase all those extra markings you put in your parts and to neaten the markings you want to keep. A neat part is always easier to practice and play. Also, if you play for the same conductors every year, you might want to do as I learned to do from my teacher. Her orchestra parts always had the conductors’ names in the margin with notes about their specific tempos and directions to her. She had a reputation for being a sensitive player, and part of that was just remembering what happened last time!
2. Note trouble spots. If there are places you know will need extra practice next year (perhaps some spots in the Ceremony of Carols?), put a sticky note on the cover of the piece with the measure number or page number of what you need to woodshed. It saves looking for the spot you wished you had practiced more last year…
3. File, don’t forget. Put your music away neatly and in one place. We all have different filing systems that we swear by, but whatever your system is, use it and stick to it. You can pat yourself on the back next year when you can quickly grab the music on your way out the door.
4. Buy music now. Remember the piece you heard that you thought would be a great addition to your holiday repertoire? You won’t remember it as easily next autumn. Write that title down and order it now. And when it arrives, file it neatly with your other music, of course.
5. Schedule your preparation. Plan your practice now. Consider how much time you wish you would have had this year to practice carefully instead of cram. Will you be asked next year to play the Britten? Or Nutcracker (Check out ARS Musica Course 103!)? How much lead time would you really like to have? Would you start your practice on October 31, or November 15? Pick whatever day you like and put your appointment to “Begin holiday practice” on your calendar. Who knows? You may even find time next year to bake cookies?!