Written by Krista Moyer
Published: October 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM [UTC]
My ensemble experience is limited to some early music jam sessions, and three studio performances. None of my previous experiences involved a conductor or much in the way of defined parts. Because of my limited exposure to group playing, I was very nervous about going. My friend offered to let me come with her so I wouldn’t walk in alone. She showed me where to stow my case, where to sit, and introduced me to people. Everyone was very friendly, and I felt more at ease once the conductor gave me the music and I realized that I could indeed play it.
The music is easy, but I’m glad it is. There is enough to do trying to figure out how to blend into a section, follow a conductor, and sight read never before seen music. I missed pretty much all of the dynamic markings, and some key changes last night. Counting appears to be my biggest obstacle right now. Yes, that was me playing not one, but two solos during the rests.
I discovered that hearing the melody line is hard when seated behind the first violin section unless the cellos are mirroring it. Having a conductor direct the sound and help massage the dynamics is much different than having it dictated in a lesson. In the practice room, it’s easy to tune out and just play the notes, but in ensemble it seems important to play with feeling. There’s a sense of partnership with the other voices that I haven’t really experienced in the past. You don’t want to let anyone down by being the rotten egg in the back row.
This is probably old hat to many of you. For me, this is what I imagine I missed out on by not having orchestra class as a child. I wish that all of my adult starter friends had this as an option if they want it. Being surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals trying to create a unified sound despite our varied backgrounds is a wonderful thing.
I can’t wait to go back next week.
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