As I do my final revisions, I find myself thinking through the music in four different ways:
- Look at page, listen to midi
- Play the music on the piano
- Look at page, imagine music
- Close eyes, imagine music
Way one is the easiest, and consequently the most seductive: with the least amount of effort, I can make substantial progress in the piece. Way two is a little more challenging, circumscribed somewhat by my technical limitations at the piano. But in some ways the piano is more familiar to me than the English language, so meandering through on the keyboard helps me discover things about the music I might not have found otherwise.
Way three is even more challenging, and much more revealing: that’s when I really hear the weak spots (I like to think that my pieces are only as good as their weakest moments) and I can zoom in and correct them.
And way four? By far the most delightful. Way four is when I have the most Aha! moments, the times when I realize exactly what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. Of course, way four requires the most concentration, the most effort. But it really is the most rewarding, in terms of psychic satisfaction.
The pieces I am least satisfied with are the ones I spent the least time simply imagining, with no page, screen or keyboard in front of me.