Suzuki level and qualifying for a community orchestra
Just looking down the line, what level Suzuki book would an adult learner possibly be adequately trained to join a local community orchestra? (knowing different orchestra standards can be different)
Most community orchestras I know about don't even require auditions at all.
I'm talking about non-paid positions, to make me work.
I'll give you a somewhat arbitrary goal which I also give to my adult beginner students who are wondering about community orchestras: You want to get solidly to the middle of Suzuki book 4 before you're not going to feel like a total fool in the orchestra. Even then, you'll still feel out of place until you get your bearings and understand the very different skills that are necessary for playing well in that setting (like being able to realistically fake your bows and nodding your head when someone tells you to change something, despite not understanding what they just said).
That is what I needed to hear. Book 4. Arbitrarily. Thank you.
I agree with Erik on the Suzuki level - Book 4 and being able to sight read at that level to comfortably assume a chair in the 2nd violin section (for yourself and the rest of the orchestra).
I agree with Erik about the goal. Competent Suzuki book 4 level is about right for entry to a non-auditioning orchestra. However, it will be very useful if the teacher is experienced in playing in orchestras or publicly performing in other ensembles (as my teacher was).
I sort of glazed over that 2nd paragraph, imagining the chaos of everyone trying to do that without tripping over musicians and instruments!??
Shaking the hand of the section leader after every movement is overkill. Bringing a box of really high-quality dark chocolate once a week or so is the preferred tribute.
It really depends on what kind of repertoire the orchestra generally plays.
Just as a reminder, I said *solid* Suzuki book 4. This can mean different things to different people, but let's just say that it means at that level, you can play at least 90% in tune, hit your shifts accurately 90% of the time, can play up to tempo without significant "dips" in speed throughout, and have a pretty good grasp on soundpoint control to be able to get responsiveness out of short notes and sustenance on long notes.
Only 90% - back to the sandbox!
I think it very much depends on the area and its community orchestras.
Y’all just wait and see....one of these days I’ll surprise you all and play something besides an A pentatonic song. Mark my words.
Suzuki is probably not a good standard to have in mind for an orchestra, for a couple of different reasons -- the Suzuki principle emphasizes listening, not reading, whereas sight-reading skills will be required in an orchestra, and solo playing allows one to get the rhythm and tempo easily wrong, whereas it becomes a critical skill to get right in ensemble. That said, the Suzuki repertoire is also well-supported in accompaniment such as Smart Music, which can give you good practice in keeping synchronised.
In the places I've lived, I've seen three tiers of community orchestras, excluding those specifically for adult beginners: non-auditioned orchestras where the minimum is somewhere around Suzuki Book 4 (these are the majority), non-auditioned or informally auditioned orchestras where the minimum is around Suzuki Book 7, and auditioned orchestras where the minimum standard may be beyond the end of the Suzuki series.
I think J Ray makes an important point.
There's no doubt that Suzuki is a poor reference point, but that is what OP asked for.
Suzuki is what I'm learning on now. All input appreciated though. My teacher plays in an orchestra. It's possible at some point she'll switch me to something else. However, I always knew I needed to start back down at the bottom and get some basics to counter my self-taught corner I'd painted myself into. And even for self-taught, I was very limited. And, my ultimate goal is not to play in an orchestra. For my current band I want to play more blues, cajun, zydeco, and maybe do some irish on the side, not in my band. But I really need to get some chops down, and I figured classical would help that route. And, honestly, wouldn't mind learning to play classical. It's one of the genre's I cycle through in my listening moods.
I don't think playing classical ensembles will help with other styles.
I'll learn my way around the fingerboard and learn the other stuff as adjuncts. Improve intonation, dexterity. I'll have to fill in the other genres on my own. It's just developing range on the fingerboard that I need, and bow control, and tone control. I wanted the ensemble work for discipline, and to push me.
Hmmmmm I'm not sure I 100% agree with what Jeewon is stating here:
Adults who are doing "Suzuki" are generally not doing the Suzuki Method. It's just that many teachers use the repertoire books for at least the first four books, often in combination with other things, since they're a pretty well curated selection of pieces.
Yes, I don't think my teacher is a "Suzuki" teacher, but she does use the repertoire books and seems to know what's being called for in the exercises. I had my choice of the O'Conner Method or Suzuki. I picked Suzuki. Even though my background is fiddling. Actually, I already had the book when I went to her.
And, Erik, I won't be tackling group work for a while. I just needed some sort of carrot on the stick out in front of me. And thanks for all your input.
David, I'd like to correct what seems to be a little misunderstanding of my post. I don't have any issues with the Suzuki method itself, and am actually a strong proponent of it, especially as it relates to parental involvement and emphasis of music and internalization over formalization such as printed music (not that I have anything against printed music, but like the Suzuki method itself, sometimes the means seem to be mistaken for the goal).
The question is what level music the orchestra in question plays.
Based on getting in the door and getting some experience.
It still doesn't narrow things down. You have to tell us what that orchestra is actually playing. Can you get a list of recently performed music? Have they been playing Pirates of the Caribbean? Verklarte Nacht?
I think David doesn't have any particular group in mind yet. He mentioned Awesome in Oakland, which is a sight-reading group which plays all kinds of things, and as a result string players can simply sign up and show up. I'm guessing that one would still need to be at a minimum of Suzuki book 4 to be able to play the repertoire, which is mostly the standard professional symphonic repertoire supplemented by some film scores and such.
It was a general question based on lack of knowledge, and trying to get some of said knowledge. So, I won't be able to answer detailed questions.
You're a little far away for this, but if you ever get to the South Bay you could give TACO (the "terrible adult chamber orchestra") a try. It is for adults of all levels, including beginners, and the conductor is terrific. http://tacosv.com/
I'm down in Fremont on Saturday mornings already. And I have to drive all over creation anyway. For the right situation, it might work. Thank you for your link. Appreciated.
Having recently joined a community orchestra after returning to playing after 38 years away, here are my 2 cents. :-) Find the orchestra's website and see what they are playing. Get hold of some of the music. Mine posts much of the sheet music online (what is in the public domain), so the orchestra members can access it. I played in a very good youth orchestra back in the day, so I knew I could eventually do it--but I did end up jumping in a little before I was totally ready. :-) But you can gauge easily how close you are by looking at, and trying to play, the repertoire. If it terrifies you, or you can't get anywhere with it, it's too soon. Try again later. :-) Good luck!
I was to suggest what Elizabeth said. When I joined my community orchestra, I was more or less at Suzuki level 5. The first piece put in front of me was Beethoven’s second symphony (second violin). I managed this, eventually, with lots of practice over 3 months at which point I could sort of keep up with 80% of it at concert time.
The comm orch I play in is non audition. There are only a few players past book 4 suzuki level. And thats fine. I play viola because otherwise they would have at most one violist. Its a fun group. Very supportive and friendly. The problem arises when the director want to play stuff like Sibelius Karelia Suite or Beethoven Egmont Overture.
In Bristol, UK, where I live, the many adult community/amateur orchestras there operate at different levels. Some require at least ABRSM grade 8 or equivalent, these generally performing at a professional repertoire level. The requirements, and repertoire, of other orchestras are not so exacting, and, as had been suggested, with those orchestras a good acquaintance with Suzuki Book 4 or similar may be all that is needed, in conjunction with the player's determination to gain experience.
Ahem. In most places I've lived and most orchestras I've played in, there's been a surplus of good violists and not enough violinists. (Maybe it's location bias?) In community orchestras I've seen, the last-chair violist has often been better than most of the second violins; in one extreme case I played in an orchestra where literally the entire viola section was far above the level of every other string player except the concertmaster.
Andrew, of course what I wrote was in jest (never pass up an opportunity for a viola joke!), but it could seriously be interpreted that the player was very much needed in the viola section.
One of the "community" orchestras where I am (NYC) told me their players are playing professional level repertoire (as they are professional players). And they are not kidding based on the rep that the orchestra plays. I fear I'll never be able to join a community orchestra near me, at least one that doesn't require an abysmally long subway commute, which is a bummer...
Pamela M, see my post today on the Amateur String Orchestra page*, which has some relevance.
Trevor - indeed, quite relevant. When I emailed them, they asked what major solo works I had performed, and which ensemble work I had done. I laughed out loud. Very different expectations re: their players vs what I am capable of right now. (I'm finally able to play the first movement of the Lalo, and not at performance tempo yet. This has been a huge learning leap just to get to this place, so I doubt I'll ever qualify to get into these community orchestras with high level players...)
Trevor's right about the UK.
MAlcolm is absolutely right. I have only ever found 1 amateur orchestra in my part of the world, Lodon, which auditions players. I went to one rehearsal and din't enjoy it so left it at that and never even got the point of auditioning. I don't think amateur groups should auditon, people who are not up to the required standard inevitably leave of their own accord pretty quickly.
Some years ago a fairly high-level community orchestra I was in had the policy of only auditioning people they didn't know personally or by reputation, or for section leader posts.
It's useful to hear an audition just so that you can chat with the player alone for a few minutes, learn about their background, and get a sense of their playing strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of whether there's rotating seating or not, it's preferable to pair stand partners that will be mutually reinforcing.
Lydia: "there aren't enough players who can handle 1st violin parts"
Lower-level orchestra. In mid-sized and larger cities, there is generally a range of community orchestras at different levels, from semi-professional (some even paying all their musicians a little) all the way down to lower intermediate. Some cities even have adult beginners' orchestras.
I had to audition for an amateur orchestra...
Demian--what a great story! I loved it! :-)
The last time I had to audition for an amateur orchestra was at University. The University ran two orchestras, one by audition. They were so good, the students ran two others - of which I was at the front. The auditions were run by the lecturers, with the pianist being one of them. I had been a member before I had a year out - and was told to re-audition. So I picked the two hardest piano pieces I know. Wieniawski Legende (bassoons in thirds) and an arrangement of Kol Nidrei (the harp part in the middle starts with an octave leap). His exclamations were a joy to listen to!
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