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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Advice on Leading Sectional(s)

November 9, 2006 at 7:42 AM

Yes, another blog, within 24 hours. It occured to me that it is Thursday...(sort of) and on Thursday I do sectionals with first, seconds, and violas of the Youth Symphony. My first time, just this one time, though if I do well, perhaps again in the future as needed.

I don't know what music they are going to be playing for me to work with them on, but the conductor told me she will show me what she wants me to work on with them. I don't quite know what to expect or how to prepare. Except look decent, be in control of my nerves, and act professional.

I've taught private lessons and I've been in orchestras and sectionals with just my section. But the more I think about it, the bigger the blank section of my brain grows.

I know I can do rhythms with any piece, maybe find the thread of melody and chord changes and rehearse them seperately, or follow it through the sections. I can help them with fingerings, but I don't want to change any bowings. Maybe help with how to approach the bowings. The students are of varying levels. Some quite advanced, some new to the scene (I think).

Anyone with general advice on how to run a sectional of three sections? Generic techniques on how to work on ensemble with students, and detail work without the rest of the kids getting bored and fidgety? I read the strings class thread, but this is not really beginner players and their experience is greater.

What is the worst that could happen anyway? Hmm...I could fall over, start crying and dismiss them all, I could shake and be totally obvious about it with the baton (should I take a baton?)...I could have a breakdown, or I could....

most likely, be just fine. If in doubt, I can always work phrasing, which I was best at in conducting lab band. I actually studied the pieces though.

*yawn* The apartment is keeping me up. Clarify: the neighbors are keeping me up because I live in an apartment. I can't even evesdrop because they are speaking japanese or korean or something similar. So are they yelling for the fourth hour consecutively, or having a party?

I am restraining myself. I vacuumed at 10:30, but the hint was not recieved. My violin or viola would do it, but, as I said...*yawn*.

And that is how I came to be on in the wee small hours.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 3:05 PM
When are you meeting with the conductor? I'd try to do that as soon as possible, I think you'll feel better when you have an idea of what she wants and what spots she thinks needs work.

I did an informal sectional with some sopranos from my church choir last week and spent the whole time working on intonation. For that group, it was necessary. In our case, the director rehearses at a very high level. She's a professional musician for her day job and I don't think she really remembers or understands anymore what it's like to work with amateurs.

I find that amateurs and students often just need repetition and instant feedback. They need a "practice tutor." The director has her own agenda and assumes they'll do all that at home on their own, but their practicing skills just aren't as sophisticated as a professional's would be and they show up looking "unprepared."

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 3:32 PM
Well, I will only have about five minutes to look over the score, or might have to use that time to set up chairs. But she emailed me this morning to say where to be...and that she will hopefully have some notes for us (me and the other sectional leaders) for suggestions on what to work on.

Yea. Repetition should work.


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 8:43 PM
imagine it is a disembodied you practicing. First you might play through quite a large section to get an impression. You might chosse from intonation, rythm, tone, expression , one area and ask everybody to pay attention to that facotr. Play through again and see what has improved etc. Is that same aspect still a proble, has soemrthing elese slipped. Isolate the area quite precisley (always ake clear thta you want people to stop immediatley you do. Using a baon is very helpful). Play it through slowly, use soe dotte dryths, whatever. Don't spend too uc tiome on one section (violas or whatever0 becaus eotehrs get bored.
Mentally review some basic practice techniques before the rehearsal.
For example playing left hand only in tempo together is -very- useful.
Always pick sections up on bow speed in lyrcal passages (if necessary) exppalin that not controlling the seed ogf bow leads to all sort of unwanted crescs and dims. Have your instrument open in a case nearby and be ready to demonstarte this,
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 9, 2006 at 10:04 PM
Thank you, Buri! Your comments are very helpful. I was thinking to bring my own instruments, because if I want to demonstrate, I'd hate to grab one of the student's instruments and have a go at it. Other people's violins and violas never fit correctly and if I'm demonstrating a bow technique, how embarassing to not be able to do it until the third or fourth try because someone's bow isn't like mine, or setup.

Besides, I think I'll probably play with them to get an idea of what is hard about the passages outlined for me to rehearse with them.


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