From Blake Newman
Posted July 9, 2008 at 04:19 PM
On the fifth and final page, Mrs. Shryer has written a small three paragraph guide entitled "Getting Started". This guide contains one paragraph on how to join a "teen-geared music program", while the other two are simple statements from a seventeen year old violinist and a faculty member of a music camp. While reading the first paragraph, I noticed something about a local orchestra. . . . well my town doesn't have one. So I slept on it, this morning I awoke with this thought it my head, "What if I somehow start my own orchestra. . .hmmm??".
Being that I am only 14, almost 15, I'm pretty positive that I won't be able to start an orchestra without some help. Tomorrow, I plan to contact the city office and the Chamber of Commerce.
So basically my questions are: How would one go about doing such a thing, and Has anyone here done something similar?
Thanks in advance,
Think big, scare yourself! Then just go do it, and don't let anyone stop you.
So, first off, are you trying to get together a community orchestra, or a professional symphony orchestra?
Are you going to try and find enough musicians in your community to make up an orchestra? Can anyone join, or do they have to audition and meet certain criteria?
Or, are you going to try and put together a committee to start fundraising and bringing together a professional sympony orchestra?
I've been involved in putting together a church orchestra for a specific event. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and totally worth the blood sweat and tears we put into it!
When I was 14 (and a beginning cellist and experienced violinist) I was fortunate to be included at the first rehearsal of the Hood-Frederick Orchestra in 1949. The director was the cchoral director at the college. Until that evening there had been about a dozen young women at Hood College who comprised their orchestra and about an equal number of town citizens who comprised an informal group that met at the local music store (since they had outgrown anyone's living room - especially after the tympanist arrived). When they finally got these two dozen people together there were about 40 of them - an orchestra!
The town contingent had originally been a string quartet that added a local trumpeter and clarinet, etc.
I continued to play with them until I graduated HS - I was the youngest member. After the initial concerts of Handel's Messiah with the combined Hood College and U.S. Naval Academy choruses, the orchestra went on to perform standard symphonic and concerto literature appropriate to its size.
This orchestra has since evolved to have some other name.
Since that time (59 years ago) playing in a community orchestra has been a part of my life virtually all the time. I have agreed to some jobs and moves (including across the continent) on the basis that there was an existing community orchestra. I have also served on the corporate board, as president, and orchestra manager (and concertmaster -- not all at the same time) of one orchestra over a period of 33 years.
Without a dedicated core of volunteer musicians, a managing committee will have an awful time trying to assemble the necessary group. But a core group can attract additional musicians if it offers what they want.
i think you have to have a core of musicians who want to play literature beyond what they can accomplish without more players than are already assembled.
1. First off you need to decide what kind of group will it be. I'm thinking you want to start a small chamber orchestra with a conductor that meets once or twice a week and puts on a concert every few months. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
2. Find a conductor. Or play without one but I think a conductor would bring some focus to the group. This could be a budding musician friend of yours that's itching to get on the podium, or the members of the orchestra can take turns conducting one piece each.
3. Find a place to rehearse. This may be a church basement, a local highschool band room, a community center. Make sure they let you use it for free otherwise it won't be worth it in the beginning.
4. Find members. This will be the easy part as word of mouth does wonders for this sort of thing. Ask kids from your local youth orchestra, or call the orchestra teachers at neighboring high schools. Send a mass e-mail to all the musicians you know and urge them to pass along the email to those they know. Even if the group is very small in the beginning it has potential to grow.
5. Decide on rehearsal times. Ask everyone's input on what is best and then make a decision and stick to it. Once you decide that rehearsals always take place on Tuesdays try not to change it. That will create stability after a while and more people will start showing up.
6. Here comes the hard part.... music. Music is very very expensive to rent so you may have to talk to your orchestra teachers about letting you borrow some of theirs. Otherwise you will have to make the investment. I don't have experience in running an orchestra so I don't know how to be more helpful.
7. Set a goal. Say you start up in September. Set a goal that you intend to perform a concert around the holiday time and immediately set forth in securing a venue at a local church or school auditorium.
Legal stuff comes later and if the group takes off. For now just start making music!
You may want to start out with a chamber group first and see where that takes you. The chamber can grow into an orchestra at the right time.
I was the conductor of a youth orchestra and it was a lot work but also fun and rewarding to see the young people work so hard to produce something worthwhile and good.
You could try to organize something informal or go for the gold, or even something in between. If I was in your position and going for the gold, the first thing I would do would be to get a "partner" who is an adult and supportive of your goals - someone you can bounce ideas off of and who is able to sign agreements and contracts. Then I would form a non-profit organization. People, businesses and other organizations love to support worthwhile non-profits. Next, I'd find a place to rehearse. My orchestra rehearsed at a museum. They offered us really nice space at no charge. They always had staff and security on hand and were very encouraging and kind to the kids. You will need a bunch of music stands which aren't that expensive, especially if a business wants to donate money to buy them. You'll need to be very organized about what pieces you will be performing. The cost of music isn't too bad if you buy or rent one season at a time. You will need a good conductor. The conductor can make or break the orchestra. The conductor needs to have something that s/he can offer the kids, i.e. experience. And s/he needs to be receptive to the kids' needs. Lastly, your orchestra needs goals. You will need to schedule concerts.
I'm impressed that at your young age, you're thinking about something so worthwhile. Good luck!
We plan to rehearse the J S Bach Brandenburg Concerto # 3 as well as the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. However, we currently need a few more violin players for our ensemble.
I also have the orchestra parts to the Mozart Violin Concerto # 3 (K 216), and, if there is a violinist.com member who would like to play the solo violin part, we could read through this concerto with full orchestra.
It provides free access to pretty well all of the baroque, classical and romantic era music up to the modern period when copyright steps in to spoil the party, so there is little modern music from the last 70 years or so available on IMSLP.
The only expense is the cost of printing the parts (but you can sometimes persuade orchestral members to do it themselves).
Not to mention the possibility of frightening off middle-aged and older musicians with the technology. I can say that, being one myself.
One think I'd suggest, if you can determine that you can at least get a minimal group together, is to investigate having your orchestra incorporated as a non-profit ( I think it would a 503-C tax classification). What would this involve and why would it be a good thing?
You need two things: a board, and possibly lawyer to set up the paperwork. Where can you find a lawyer? Ask your parents, or ask around for someone's dad or mom--I'll bet you will find someone willing to do it pro bono (free).
Why is having a board and tax-free status a good thing? Because it will legitimize the whole project, you'll have people to help you do things like print programs, rent halls, deal with insurance, manage funds, etc., and you will have an organization that can outlast you when you go off to college. The board members can be adult community members who are musicians, and who may, if you ask the right people, know about things like fundraising, grant-writing, marketing, etc. Find a lawyer or accountant that plays the viola.
You'll need funds, so "pay-to-play" may help your organization. In addition to being able to buy music, you will possibly have to purchase liability and concert insurance in order to play somewhere (many churches will not let you play without it), print programs, pay for rehearsal space, and pay soloists. Keep in mind that when people pay for something, they tend to value it. When people do it for free, they are more likely to skip rehearsals or not be prepared.
Good Luck to you!
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