March 2007

Late Starter Orchestra

March 12, 2007 04:34

I attended a meeting of an amateur orchestra in New York City call "Late Starter Orchestra." What a wonderful nuturing group of string enthusiasts! Maybe some of you NYC members can join us? (below is from Craigs List)


NYLSO, the New York Late-Starters String Orchestra, is an amateur chamber orchestra for beginning or recently returning adult players of violin, viola, cello, and double bass. We are not a class, but rather a highly committed and enthusiastic group of individuals who want to enjoy the experience of playing serious music in an organized group. Our goal is to create a fun, supportive, noncompetitive environment for adults 18 to 80+ who wish to participate in collective music making.
Participants should have basic music reading skills and a willingness to commit to the group, but are not required to audition. Absolute beginners (i.e., even if you have been playing or studying for only 2-3 months) are welcome.

We Are Flexible:
We are a very flexible and friendly group. The only requirements to join are to be an adult amateur string player and to have a healthy sense of humor. We know that New Yorkers are busy people. It is fine to drop in for a single session, or to skip an entire 6-week block and then return for the next one. Ultimately, though, the joy is in the development that takes place when a committed group works (and laughs) together.

Our tutor/facilitator serves as coach, conductor, and orchestrator, scoring the music to accommodate everyone’s level of play. She has extensive experience in one-on-one teaching and in leading ensembles.

We will meet in Manhattan on 6 Sunday afternoons, from 3:00-5:00 PM, beginning March 11 and ending on April 15. Please be punctual, or arrive a few minutes early, to allow time to set up and tune.

What to Bring:
Your instrument, of course, and a pencil with an eraser for making notes on the sheet music. There may be a few extra music stands, and we can share, but please bring a stand if you have a portable one.

Concert: At the end of our 6 weeks of practicing and playing together, we aim to host an informal play-through concert to which we can invite very supportive family and friends and enjoy refreshments in celebration of our work together.

At the end of 6 weeks, we will begin another 6-week block with new music. We have found that the 6-week length with a concert at the end gives the ensemble a sufficient chance to get off the ground and give everyone the opportunity to experience the excitement of making music together while avoiding the problem of feeling locked into something too long or indefinite.

The Music:
Our focus is on classical music though once we have a committed core group, the interests of the participants can help to guide future musical choices.

The Cost: The fee for the 6-week session (9 hours altogether) will be $60 per person, payable on the first day. If you join after the first session, the payment can be pro-rated.
Drop-ins: If you wish to get a taste of the orchestra experience but are not ready to commit to the full 6 weeks, or if you have schedule conflicts and cannot make it for all of the weeks, there is a drop-in fee of $15 per session

Information We Need From You:
1. Confirmation of your interest and availability to meet on the 6 Sundays of the session. Please reply as soon as possible, so that we can reserve the right room size and start to organize the sheet music.

2. Details about your level of experience.
This will help the tutor guide her direction of the group and ensure that the sheet music is such that each of us can comfortably play our parts. Playing together in time will be challenge enough! Please respond honestly and do not be concerned about having little experience or poor sight-reading skills. This is going to be noncompetitive, supportive, and fun. We will all make mistakes, but we will all learn and improve together.

Please respond with the following information (you can copy and paste the table with your answers into the body of your return e-mail):?
Your instrument
How many years have you been playing?
Do you currently take lessons, or are you returning to music after a hiatus?
Have you played in an ensemble before?
For how long?
If you have played in an ensemble, what ensemble position are you used to playing? For example, first (lead/experienced), second (intermediate), third (advancing), fourth (least experienced)?
If you have not played in a group before, where do you think you might fit among these categories?
What position are you used to playing in on your instrument (e.g., first, third).
Are you used to shifting positions in a piece of music?
How good are your sight-reading skills and how many accidentals (sharps/flats) are you comfortable playing in a piece of music?
Do you require any special accommodation (e.g., large-print music)?

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March 5, 2007 19:44

It has been a while since my last blog.

Some updates. I am in the process of finding a new teacher. I found a group class that meets bi-weekly, and have narrowed my search for a private teacher. I have a potential teacher who looks really good. She was trained in Japan, and has extensive chamber music experience. I think it will be a good match. I may also be joining a amateur orchestra. I was hesitant but someone in my new group class assures me that my level is adequate. She tells me that the orchestra really needs string players.

For those of you that live in the Maryland area - I had the pleasure of visiting a college in your area. I visited St. John's college in Annapolis last weekend. What an amazing school. For those of you not familiar - St. John's is a four year liberal arts college that studies the "Great Books." The curriculum is fixed - everyone reads the same books. While the school isn't for everyone it is the right school for the right kind of student.

One last thing.. I will be visiting Africa with my colleagues at the end of the month. Suffice to say - I will not bring my violin with me!

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