I recently read a conversation with some adult starters about playing with an orchestra/ ensemble, etc., and what the motivations are, both for and against. A number of individuals had joined groups that were somewhat above their existing ability level. They found that in spite of the fact that they had difficulty keeping up, following along, or keeping time, they leveled up in ability.
I noticed that because so many people mentioned that the experience of playing with better people made you better, it caused some of the less experienced in the conversation to decide that either they needed to avoid playing with a group altogether because they didn’t want to be that stressed out, or even that they wouldn’t bother to play with a group that they felt was below their level.
It’s too bad. If you have never played with a group of other people before, there’s something to be said for playing music that seems easy to you. Playing with others involves so many things beyond the reading the score, that removing the obstacle of music beyond your skill level allows a person to really focus on learning group playing skills. I admire folks that have joined groups that are more advanced as first timers, but it must introduce a huge amount of additional frustration.
While I wish I had the opportunity to play more advanced music, I am content to play in my little beginner’s ensemble for now. The environment is relaxed, and focused on education. It’s nice that we get direction on how to follow the conductor, what to listen for, and when to watch the other players. It’s interesting to note the different attitudes between those who are inexperienced with organized playing, and those who have played in ensembles/orchestras in the past. Sometimes we get ringers in to fill out a section, and observing them can be educational too.
If you are passing on opportunities to play with others because you feel the level of music is beneath you, please reconsider. There are other things to discover. Letting go of the music may give you the freedom to grow in other aspects of ensemble playing. After all, aren’t we amateurs entitled to enjoy what we have accomplished? What’s more enjoyable than sharing music, no matter how simple?
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