Marked Parts

March 22, 2008 at 07:38 PM · Corwin recently blogged on the lack of marked parts in the community orchestra. In the few years I've been playing in a community orchestra, I know of only one time where the concertmaster marking the 1st violins bowings. The rest of the sections either had the principal work with the section to mark the parts during/after rehearsals, or not bother with this process at all.

Is this common in community orchestras?

Replies (8)

March 22, 2008 at 07:56 PM · Believe it or not, it can be true for many professional orchestras as well. An ideal situation for a community orchestra is for the concertmaster to mark his own part. Then he/she should mark the principal players' parts but only in passages that are similar to the 1 violin part, or are played at the same time. Then the principals should mark the rest of their own part and announce to the section that bowings are available before/after rehearsal or during breaks.

It's also best that when a change is made in the middle of the rehearsal that the principal points it out to the rest of the section at that time.

Wouldn't it be lovely to have a librarian that does all these things for us so that when we sit down with a part we have the right bowings already marked in? When I was in conservatory the school would pay students $20/per hour to mark parts and lots of people wanted to do it. Or you could have someone in each section volunteer to mark everyone's parts.

March 23, 2008 at 01:32 AM · A more ideal situation is for the concertmaster to mark his part and related string parts. The principals then complete the markings and photocopy and distribute parts to the members in advance of the first rehearsal. If they have a complete set of parts this photocopying is (to my mind) within the spirit of fair use.

March 23, 2008 at 12:24 AM · The parts in my CO are always marked before we get them. When changes are made during rehearsal, the principals make sure the section knows what's changed.

I do wish we always got the music ahead of the first rehearsal. As it is, we are almost always sight-reading at the first rehearsal of a concert.

March 23, 2008 at 03:47 PM · In our orchestra there is a paid person (not paid much) who marks all the bowings for violin, viola, cello, and bass. She is a violin player who sits next to the concertmaster and occaisionally plays concertmaster seat.

If there is any problems, then the sections work it out at rehearsals... there are few contraditions in bowings.

She said that this has worked out really well and has avoided previous fights about bowing.

March 23, 2008 at 04:44 PM · I have had some acquaintance with community orchestras whose "principal" was not prepared for this job. Or perhaps could manage violin bowings, but not make great choices for viola/cello/bass as to when they should match and when not. One time,a (novice) violinist even took a part to a person he was taking lessons from, and her bowing ideas were way off conventional. And roughly unplayable. I think there is something to be said for the string player/conductor to take this on him/herself. And for heavens' sake, don't erase the bowings! Ask the players to take out only their own reminders. Sue

March 27, 2008 at 04:11 PM · This is getting a little frustrating for me in orchestra. Last night I sat with the concertmaster again because her stand partner was out. There are still some places in the Haydn symphony we are playing that are not worked out with respect to bowing. The conductor seems to like to be involved in the bowing, though, especially for the Haydn.

But there was too much discussion of bowing during rehearsal for my taste, and for the conductor's too, I think. He kept telling us to "stop talking."

The reason I say it's getting a little frustrating is that I don't seem to be able to take not knowing the bowings in stride as easily as some others seem to. There's a surprising variety to how people handle it. Some are like, "oh, it's fine, I'll just follow the CM and do what they do--I'll figure it out on the fly." Others (I'm in this group) tend to wig out and feel embarrassed when they get on the wrong bow and other people are looking at them. Still others seem to be pretty much oblivious because they are just trying to get the notes.

March 27, 2008 at 05:27 PM · This is an interesting discussion. I sit as concertmaster in my CO and it is expected that I have the bowings marked by the 1st or 2nd rehearsal of the new session.

Usually, I only mark the first violin part, but then I sit down individually with the principal second and violist to clarify the bowings the are the same with the firsts and then work out any bowing questions they may have that are unique to their music.

Our conductor is fairly patient, but he doesn’t like to have to much “clarification” going on during rehearsals. A lot of the revisions that are made in our music are done via email when possible. I also scan the bowed music and email it out to the players to allow them to mark the bowings before the next rehearsal.

But I find it interesting that I’ve never been expected to bow cello parts. I’ve been told that bowing cello music is quite a bit different and difficult as well, so I guess I’m grateful I’m not expected to do it.

March 27, 2008 at 08:32 PM · I've had a few different experiences, though not with community orchestras, but with youth and uni orchestras.

In my uni orchestra, we didn't get any bowings. What this led to was pretty much every time we stopped, the pencil would get picked up and something marked. I'm constantly checking the desk in front of me in order to get the right bowings, phrase markings, etc.

In my youth orchestra, we also don't get marked parts, but the situation is a bit different, and we don't have a strong section leader, so it's very hard to get everything the right way. And because not everyone marks their part, if you're sitting in the middle of the section, you can't always just check the desk ahead of you.

At uni, we had a talk by the musical director of the WA Opera, Richard Mills. He had just been preparing a season of The Magic Flute, and he was very particular. He sent out his own fingered and bowed parts, fully edited so you knew whether the dot was a short dot or a long dot, whether there was a crescendo here or there etc. I think that's the goal, but don't think many conductors have the time to do it.

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