Wow, my first entry here at violinist.com... ~exciting~ hahahahah! Well, let's get to the point.
(Excuse me in advance for any grammatical or lexical errors, english is not my first language.)
So, I attended a music festival during the past two weeks here in Brazil (July 14-28), and I can honestly say: it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Why? It was two full weeks of orchestra rehearsals, classes and master classes with some of the best players in the country or even foreigner players, and concerts every day, day and night.
It was my second time at this festival. As a late re-starter in violin (I first picked up the violin when I was 3 and played it until I was 8, then I stopped for 6 years and picked it up again when I was 14 - I am almost 17) this kind of experience really means a great deal to me as a person and to my playing, mainly because I am in the second year of a technical high school and because of that I don't have any time to take part in the local orchestra, there aren't any teachers for me in my area for constant classes (I would have to drive 3h at minimum every two weeks on the weekends for classes, which wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have school on saturday mornings... yep) , and also due to my early break I didn't have much group experience either.
But what really changed me is that it was the first time I have ever played a symphony (or at least tried to). When the conductor handed me the sheet music to Beethoven's 1st, I couldn't believe my eyes. I love that symphony, end of story.
In the end, apart from taking classes, I ended up taking part in two of the festival's orchestras: the experimental (for beginners-intermediate) and the symphonic (intermediate-advanced). The repertoire went from Superman's theme and a cartoon's medley to Beethoven's 1st and Coriolan's overture.
This is the Cartoon's Medley from the experimental orchestra's repertoire, one of the most fun songs I've ever played (it had a coreography):
But what made it so remarkable and everlasting was all of the new friends I made. That's the good part about festivals, exchanging experiences with other people, making new friends and meeting old friends from past editions. It is really hard to talk to other people about classical music here in Brazil due to the low cultural level, specially when you don't live in one of the big cities, so these are friends you know you can take for life.
(That's me in the front with the glasses and the awkward smile)
So my final advice is: even if you are a lone student, look for some festivals, take part in them. I can guarantee you it'll be one of the best experiences of your life, your playing will skyrocket, you'll have the some of best moments ever and share some good laughs with your new friends and even some old friends.
Well, if you read this far, I really appreciate that. Thank you! :)
Cheers and keep on playing,
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