How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

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twang
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How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

Post by twang » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:45 pm

A two part question...

My friend and I are working up some duets for performance at the end of the month. Yesterday while we were practicing he suggested we practice recovering if case one of us gets off track. We took turns purposely making mistakes and seeing if we could recover; but that didn't work too well, we knew what we had done so it was too easy to get back on track. Then we took turns making a mistake and having the other try to get in sync. These were interesting exercises in their own way but didn't really seem to do what we wanted. Does anyone have any better ideas?

In the end, we leaned we were already pretty good at recovering, having made plenty of mistakes during our previous practices. But, the one mistake that kills us every time is when one of us misses a repeat. This was a bit easier to set up, but in the end, we were stymied about what to do to recover. Help?
"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

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lagartija
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Re: How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

Post by lagartija » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:19 pm

You could agree to look at each other just as you finish the last measure before the repeat as a signal that both realize a repeat is coming up (a raised eyebrow...look of expectation). If one of you does NOT look up, then you know to be ready to end that section and proceed with the next.

When I played duets, we always looked at each other when we came to the end to make sure our timing in any rubato would stay in synch. We had worked out the count we would use, but looking at the other person allowed us to "read" each other better.

For other errors, the solution will depend on the type of error. Wrong note? Keep counting and come in as soon as you can. We always had the score for BOTH parts in front of us so we could see where the other person was and synch up again.
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CathyCate
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Re: How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

Post by CathyCate » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:07 pm

If time permits, it is very helpful for both players to learn both parts of the duet. This may sound like a lot of work, but it will be a time saver in the end. Being completely familiar with where the difficulties are will allow you to be prepared for speed bumps and show a little mercy to your duo partner when and if necessary.

Be just as prepared to listen to both parts as you are to play them. This may seem hard at first, but it is a skill worth developing and becomes one of the joys of playing with others.

Lagartija's suggestion regarding visual cues is invaluable. Orchestral musicians learn to keep an eye on the conductor, even while they are reading their own music. Similarly, full awareness of what your partner is signaling will help you to stay in synch.

A few planned ritardandos, can be added if appropriate. This gives you an opportunity to catch your breath (sometimes literally) and to establish a more solid tempo if one or both of you have started to play like a runaway train...perhaps due to nerves (or just to get it over with). :D

Last suggestion is pretty obvious, but I will include it anyway. Rehearse beginning together and ending together no matter what happens in between.

Try, above all, to have fun. It will be well worth all the effort you are putting into this endeavor. Good Luck!

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:13 pm

I think the best way is to prioritise the pulse of the music. If the beat is your main concern, picking up from an error should be a fairly minor problem.
This doesn't mean that rubato must be neglected, even rubato can have a pulse.

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twang
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Re: How do you practice recovering from mistakes in a duet?

Post by twang » Sun Mar 12, 2017 5:46 pm

Excellent suggestions.
Any suggestions if the other part is a piano and the seating arrangement limits visibility?
"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

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