Preparing a song to solo or play in a small ensemble? Here are your 9 steps:
- Listen to a recording of the sheet music.
- Study every mark on the paper.
- Practice and memorize in small sections.
- Play through the whole piece VERY slowly.
- Fix the areas where you’re struggling. Simplify if needed.
- Play at speed without using the sheet music.
- Play at speed with a metronome, your partner, the recording, or a percussive friend.
- Throw your metronome away and create YOUR final version with your artistic vision of what the piece should mean.
- Play for your audience and make them weep.
Even if you’re not going to play “memorized,” you probably should still be so familiar with the paper that you’ll barely need it.