Would it benefit me to join my school's orchestra?

January 17, 2006 at 11:38 PM · I'm asking the benefits of joining an orchestra that could benefit my playing with an organ or even solo. I'm improving a lot playing on my own but I hear about the school's orchestra playing like 4-5 difficult peices when I only do 1 with my teacher at a time. I don't really want to join my orchestra, but if it will benefit me a lot I will... Could use you guys input.

Thanks again

Replies (13)

January 18, 2006 at 12:49 AM · As a student, it benefits you to participate in every single kind of playing experience: solo, chamber music (sonatas, trios, quartets, and larger), chamber orchestra (15-25 players), symphony orchestra (50+ players).

Even if your goal is a solo career, you can't play the major concerto repertoire effectively without knowing the orchestra part, and playing the tutti parts in orchestra for other soloists gives you an opportunity the study the works from a different angle.

January 18, 2006 at 10:34 AM · There is much more to learn by playing in an orchestra than just the orchestra parts...especially at a student level.

You learn by playing next to other violinists and seeing their technique which might be better than your own...hearing the teacher talk about how the cello part functions, how to blend your sound, how to play together, how to follow a conductor, how to phrase, layer, and sculpt out melodies v. harmony lines. How to share musical expression. Music theory. New musical ideas. They may even teach you differnt kinds of shifting or scale exercises your private teacher doesn't do. I think you learn so much more about music by playing in an ensemble than you ever could on your own. It would be silly to waste this opportunity to play with other people.

January 18, 2006 at 09:52 PM · I echo what Gene and Sarah said; I would recommend joining the orchestra and whatever else you can find. It will not only help you learn from others but it will give you an experience that going solo won't. I learned a lot from joining a symphony and the memories that are created are priceless.

January 18, 2006 at 10:31 PM · How much time do you have?

January 19, 2006 at 04:58 AM · Greetings,

I also agree with what Sarah said. If you read Auer`s book `Violin Playing- How I teach It,` one of the most interesting chapters is on the subject of nuance. This is what separates the ordinary/boring from the artist. Auer cites the works of Beethoven as the ultimate source of nuance study and insists that one should get to know the chamber works and especially the symphonies.

It is true. To really work at a Beethoven symphony and play the expression marks is one of the greatest lessons a musician can experience. (Good)Conducters spend a lifetime trying to get a grip on what Beethoven intended.

From a less artistic perspective, playing in an orchestra can be a laboratory for technical development, especially position work. Challenge yourself to play long passages as much in second and fourth position as possible. If you don`t know 2,4 and 6 as well as 1,3,5 you are only half a player from the left hand perspective anyway.

The down side one should keep in mind is that orchestra does not always benifit player swho are still forming their technique. Long hours of tremolo, or hacking away to get more sound for the benifit of a conduter who doesn`t know better can ruin a bow arm in the short and even long run. However, One can learn from orchestra rehearsal how to recover ones relaxed and poised technique after long sessions with appropritae exercises such as Casorti, Kreutzer et al. (The same goes for inonation)

You can also learn how to relax in orchestra with dynamic tension exercises that stretch muscles in the -opposite- direction to that used in playing.

Finally, You can photocopy whole works and start the collection of excerpts and diifcult passages you will need for your later life. Forget the idea of just being a soloist and work on being a complete musician. If you have what it really takes (how many people really make a living just playing concertos these days?) it will probably come . But frankly, many of the players in the world`s best orchestras have the chops to play concertos anywhere/anytime . There isn`t that much room out there and more often than not they grew up well rounded enough to know the depth of experience playing in an orchestra or chamber music is every bit as rewarding and profound as -compromising- your ideas on a concerto you love because neither the second rank conducter nor the third rank orchestra is flexible enough to go with you as you have dreamt things. Arnold Steinheardts autobiographical writing in `Indivisible By Four` is a salutory description of all this.

Best of luck,


PS Not that Brian was claiming he is going to be a soloist...

January 19, 2006 at 05:27 AM · Playing in any group will be a good experience. It teaches you how to listen, how to play with others (even soloists have to play with piano or orchestra), how to blend, how to adjust your tuning to fit in with a group.

Plus you're missing out on playing some wonderful music if you only stick to the solo repertoire. Nothing is more exciting than playing a symphony by Mahler or Shostakovich or Tchaikovsky. And playing chamber music is so rewarding.

Plus, it's good opportunity to meet and socialize with people! (Just don't talk during rehearsal!)

January 19, 2006 at 02:31 PM · There is no downside I can think of. Aside from the good advice you have received from all of the posters, Jennifer has hit on an important point. My recollection from being in school orchestras is that the social experience is quite important, particularly for male adolescents. Have fun!

January 19, 2006 at 04:48 PM · “There is no downside I can think of”

Urm… well there is the idea that playing in orchestra can compromise one’s intonation

January 19, 2006 at 11:26 PM · Greetings,

Tom, thta is why I have determidely stayed a male adolescent for the last forty years.


Burp fart

January 19, 2006 at 11:30 PM · For all of the excellent reasons above:

Playing in an orchestra?....Good.

Not playing in an orchestra?....Mostly not so good.

One other issue (assuming nobody covered it above): Ensemble. There is nothing like playing in an orchestra to learn about ensemble playing, whether you are a soloist or not. You learn that playing together and in time and with the right sound ain't as easy as it looks. Even if you are a great soloist, you don't always play with great orchestras.

January 25, 2006 at 01:10 AM · Thanks for all of the responses. I was hoping you guys would say that it will benefit any player, but a soloist doesn't really need it. I guess I'll listen to everybody now (Teacher, Family, Freinds) and join the orchestra next year. I'm not sure the violin will fit in my locker, and if I have to carry it around in school all day then I won't join the orchestra. (I'm not lazzy just don't want to ruin my rep.)

Thanks again

January 25, 2006 at 05:40 AM · You might be able to take your violin to the orchestra room first thing in the morning, depending on your school. Then you don't have to worry about it taking up room in your locker.

January 25, 2006 at 11:02 PM · Greetings,

I don`t know about this `ruin your rep` stuff. You are only as cool as you feel, not what you think other people believe you are.

And trust me, whatever your sexual inclinations, in a few years the fastest way to get into someone`s underwear is by a juicy piec e of violin music. Try watching that early movie by Tom Hanks about a red plimsol or something like that,



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