March 15, 2012 at 5:32 AM"Are you busy on Monday and Wednesday evenings?"
This conversation took place between my teacher and me a couple of weeks ago, and resulted in me attending my first ever orchestra rehearsal today at the university where I work. Joining the orchestra was a big step for me because being an adult learner, I've always been very self-conscious when I play and am, so-to-speak, a closet violinist. The only people who have really heard me play are my teachers and some very, very close friends (and maybe some not-so-thrilled neighbors...). If my teacher hadn't presented the opportunity to me, I would probably never have had the courage to join an ensemble and play in a group, despite wanting to share my music with others.
During the last couple of weeks, I have been wavering between excitement and nervousness. Questions of self-doubt keep popping up, like "what business do I have trying to play with others who have probably been playing since they were little, who have years of experience already?? Little me, who's only been playing a couple of years. Who still has trouble playing in tune (or sometimes even tuning her violin!)." or "What even happens at an orchestra rehearsal?" The whole situation is very unfamiliar for me.
My teacher has been great in the last couple of weeks, helping me prepare for orchestra with site-reading a lot of new music. Last lesson, she brought the music that the orchestra is playing and we played through the first half of it during my lesson, trouble-shooting problem areas, and she gave me lots of tips, like if I was nervous about tuning, to tune my violin before I left home, etc.
Enter today, the big day, my first rehearsal. dumdumdum...heart pounding, I left work a few minutes early, with heavy anticipation, not knowing what to expect. Getting there, not knowing where to sit, but finding the conductor to be very nice (and humerous!), and the orchestra to be filled with both students and others who are older like me. This all helped me to relax, and to enjoy myself, letting me weather the several mini-disasters that crept up.
Like tuning - Because I live in the mid-west, weather changes a lot throughout the day, causing an in-the-morning-nicely-in-tune-violin to become a by-the-end-of-the-day-sitting-for-the-first-time-in-orchestra-rehearsal-violin to be horribly out-of-tune, causing a very-nervous-self-concious-adult-violin-learner to discover that it is even harder to tune in the midst of others trying to do the same than it is at home.....and causing every note played on the Ding to be an ear-crunching XXXXXX (insert your favorite negative word here).
After "tuning," the second disaster hit immediately when the conductor started with "ok, everyone turn to the third to last page. We're beginning with the last movement." Yuck. Site-reading! Oh dear, oh dear, I only got through the first half with my teacher, I haven't even looked at the end yet!! sigh.
In the end, though, it was ok. Everyone else was sight-reading as well, and my stand partner only managed to play just a little bit more than me...maybe around half :D And she was nice enough to pluck her D string so I could FINALLY get my silly ornery weather-giddy violin in tune!
Actually, it was all quite fun, and I am very much looking forward to the next rehearsal next week! I think I will really enjoy playing in the orchestra, and am glad to have the chance to play in it. And maybe, just maybe, I will build up the courage to be more than just a closet violinist, and come out of the closet, so-to-speak, and play in other venues as well.
A suggestion for your tuning problems is to get a tuner that clamps to your violin and reads the instruments vibrations. They're great for tuning in noisy environments and can help you to build confidence.
Lisa, We are playing Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5. In all of my nervousness, I hadn't actually looked at the title of what we are playing until you asked me :D
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