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The other day, I discovered page markers (similar to post-it notes) at the stationary's that I find very helpful in practicing. They are slim (3 mm, barely covering the staff), a good inch long, colored, transparent and, of course, sticky, but removable. Probably you have seen them before, but these are particularly useful because of their shape.

Beth has this neat practice tip on her blog of making a photocopy of the music and marking troublesome spots that need extra attention (or even cutting them out and pasting them on a separate sheet of paper). It is quite a lot of work, though, and not very flexible if you have solved some problems and need to focus on others. So I am using those markers now directly on my sheet music. It's like marking the music with ink markers, but reversible!

Here are some practice tips that I have found useful:

  1. Limit the number of markers to three to five per page; that is, mark only the most troublesome spots.
  2. Take notice of the exact nature of the problem. One might use different colours for different types of problems, but that is presumably taking it too far. We don't want to become obsessive...
  3. When you start to practice the piece, start with the troublesome spots. Apply problem solving techniques.
  4. Based on a final run-through of a complete section, one can decide if the marker should stay on for a few more practice sessions, if it should move somewhere else or if it can be removed completely.

These markers are like a complex bookmark that records where you have left off in practice. Colourful as they are, they are hard to ignore and, hence, help to focus a practice session on the things that need to be practiced.

If I feel courageous, I'll even leave the markers in for lesson. It'll be interesting to see if my teacher and I agree on what constitutes a troublesome spot, or where he sets priorities differently.

These markers are also very helpful for analysis. I've colour-coded the different thematic snippets in a movement of Bach's "Musical Offering" in the complete score. So now we can see at a glance, which voice is leading where, or where two voices form a duett. I'd felt quite overwhelmed by the complexity of this piece, but now I have a "handle" on it.

Thought I'd share this exciting discovery. Have a good practice!

3 Responses
Posted: August 28, 2010
Last Comment: August 30, 2010

Posted: August 30, 2010
Thanks Anne, it does help to know what they look like. I'm sure I'll be able to find them at an office supply store around here, I know I've seen them. Thanks again for the suggestion ! Anything that helps me stay organized is a good thing ! x-D

Posted: August 29, 2010

Hi, I am glad you like the markers. I've found the Web site of the manufacturer at The Web site doesn't seem to have an English version, though, but at least you can see what they look like.

The markers are also sold by, see,/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=officeproduct&qid=1283071956&sr=1-1, but apperently not by in the US.

Happy hunting!

Posted: August 29, 2010
Oh my goodness ! What a wonderful idea Anne ! I'm not sure I exactly understand what those "markes" are but I'm sure if I take a tour around the local "Staples" (a "box" stationary supply store here) I'll be able to find what you describe. Taking my son out for school shopping tomorrow after church...what an excellent opportunity to look ! Thanks again Anne !