A Rough Guide to the Orchestra


Adjust your music stand so that you can see the conductor just over the top of your music. Having the baton and music in the same field of view is a lot easier than having to keep looking up and down.

If a part of your score looks too difficult feel free to jump over the tricky bits. Even if you can only play the first note of every bar, that’s just dandy. We call it Leap-frogging*. It’s better to simplify your part and just follow the music, that way you can join back in when you feel able.

As you probably will have printed your music it is, obviously, yours to decorate in any way that helps you. It’s always a very good idea (hint, hint) to number all of your bars.  It can also be helpful to highlight key or time signature changes, mark out accidentals, write in note names or number the beats in a tricky bar. Anything that helps! Coloured highlighter pens do a good job marking repeats.

If you don’t understand something, please ask. I can almost guarantee you won’t be alone in not knowing. You don’t have to shout out, ask during the break or after the rehearsal if you prefer.

Take care when moving about the hall and consider getting your instrument insured. Repairs can be expensive and are not covered on the orchestra’s insurance.

Rehearsals start at 7:30, if possible try to arrive earlier and give yourself time to get settled and warm up your instrument.

Try to practice. We appreciate that people can lead busy lives and it is not always possible but a little can go a long way.

Enjoy yourself. It’s supposed to be fun!

Try not to’s

We all come from different musical backgrounds and can get into habits that are not helpful in the orchestra. An effort not to do the following would be much appreciated.

Counting out loud. We all have to count bars rest at some point but your neighbour may not be on the same count as you. Counting out loud can be very off putting.

Foot tapping. The conductor controls the tempo. Bestill your feet and watch the pointy stick.

Please don’t

Speak, blow, bow or pluck when the conductor is talking. Some members have hearing difficulties and speech is easily drowned out.

It’s your orchestra

Other than the conductor, the orchestra is run by volunteers. If you can contribute in any way your assistance will always be welcomed.

*Leap-frogging is a technique that can be used, if you are not proficient enough to play all notes in a piece or certain fast passages of a piece. This means that you would only play the first note of each bar, in time and at correct length and then rest for the remainder of the bar. As your proficiency increases you can start adding more notes that you play in each bar. This technique will help you to follow the music properly and build up your confidence and proficiency over time. This is especially useful in the beginning of the term when all music is new and you haven’t had opportunity to practice..

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