This summer I am spending time rehearsing several pieces for the upcoming season. Mendelssohn's Elijah. Bruckner's Mass No. 2 in E minor and Stephen Chatmann's Songs of Remembrance. I have not sung any of these works before so I thought i would share my learning methods.
After I pick up the scores I spend time erasing all the previous markings as I find the markings of others extremely annoying, although slightly entertaining. For example one day, during a Sunday worship service, our conductor could hardly contain his laughter as he turned the page of his score at a point where at the page turn there was a key change which rendered the tone written out from a G flat to a F sharp. In the score was written in all caps. SAME BLOODY NOTE!. In any case, funny or not, I delete them all. My own scores are full of markings that are meaningful to me but I abhor the markings of others. For example, I despise the cute eyeglasses that many choristers doodle into their music when they want to remind themselves to watch the conductor. I prefer to write "Look" or "Watch" or "Bill" the conductor's name. My scores, however, would drive others crazy with their detailed quotes from the various conductors I have worked with. For example: unravel the words - William Baerg in my Bach Mass in B minor score, from the same score comes sing with quiet pathos In my Messiah score I have written -a Melismas should not be stressful it should sound fun Still, the eraser must come out for the markings of others.
I will often do the erasing while having the work play on my Cd player so I can begin to get the feel of the music into my head. This means, of course, that I have had to purchase the Cd's ahead of time. I listened to the Bruckner last night with score in hand and find I was not particularly moved by it, and found none of it very singable. Would love to hear from anyone who has performed this work who can assure me that it does get better as one gets into it. I will continue to play the Cd's at home or in the car whenever my teenagers allow, which is when they are not around. The car ride driving kids TO their activities has their radio station playing but as soon as they jump out Mendelssohn CD is cranked up.
During this phase of rehearsal I will also be using Cyberbass.com to learn my alto line. I rarely pound it out on my piano first as I am not that skilled in counting out rhythms so better for me to rely on cyberbass. This time however, cyberbass has let me down as they do not have the Bruckner.
I also like to read about the composer's life during the time of the writing of the piece which I feel really helps me get into the rehearsals and the performances. I have read a fair bit about Felix before but do not know anything about Anton so I should get a book from the library about him.
I have played the Mendelssohn Elijah on my CD a few times and find that even the pieces I have not heard before stick in my ear better than the Bruckner so I think learning the Mendelssohn will be less challenging for me than the other. I have not begun to rehearse the Chatman which came to me as a photocopied pages paper clipped together which I shall have to get bound in order to use.
So to do:
1. Bind the Chatman
2. Get book on Bruckner's life
3. Rehearse Mendelssohn on Cyberbass
4. Pound out Chatman and Bruckner on piano
5. Listen to CD's of all 3 works