How do I find other players like me with basic abilities to play with?
After 2 1/2 years as an adult violin student, I'm feeling the itch to come out of my practice room and make some music with others of similar abilities. Now, I'm not yet one of those players who can pick up a sheet of music and just read it, make beautiful music, and feel good about it all. Frankly, it takes a while for me to get the gist of the whole thing. However, it's getting a bit lonely, and I'd like to meet others in this situation and see where we could take it. I've done a couple of Bluegrass and old time music jams, and they're fun, but - frankly - repeating GCD or CFG or DGA chord progressions over and over gets a bit dull. I've even taken my violin and played in open mic evenings, Being 70 years old does make me as something of an outlier at those shows since most of the players are around 40 - 50 years younger than I am. They play their guitars and sing about broken hearts, life being unfair, and more broken hearts. Then I get up with my violin and play a couple of old Celtic tunes, some Scandinavian tunes, or some blues. Let's simply say they are polite about it all. It's fun, but I'd like to find others to play with. I've looked online for amateur chamber groups, and all I can find are sites with well established music ensembles. If I were a young person could simply join the school orchestra, but that ship sailed decades ago. Any suggestions of where I could start? Thanks.
One option is to post a note with various teachers seeking interest to play duets with someone of equal level. Forget about community orchestras until you can comfortably read music, it's just impossible otherwise, unless you are one of those who can easily memorize 14 pages of not be particularly melodic and often challenging music (2nd violins). You already done the jam group thing, which is good in a way. A local Irish folk/celtic session group might give you the variety you are seeking rather than bluegrass.
Hi Michael - I'm in a similar boat as you for a different reason - of which I'll spare you!
You want this:
To add to Michaels comment, several community colleges offer courses that are really small string orchestras, in the same format as new horizons. So in the chicago area, DePaul hosts a new horizons orchestra, oakton and Harper community colleges each have their own string groups that would fit your skill level well.
Finding a pianist who would be willing to accompany violin is another option to consider, and would be an excellent opportunity to make music with someone else. Just passing word of your interest in your community might identify someone. With such a relationship it is possible to proceed at your own pace, and both you and the pianist can prepare designated repertoire before meeting for maximally productive sessions. Of course the repertoire for violin and piano is enormous, and runs the range from simple to complex. You didn't give a lot of detail about your current level of accomplishment, but 2-1/2 years in, potential sources include The Suzuki books and their piano parts, as well as Barbara Barber's series and many student concertos and concertinos.
Where are you at in terms of technical accomplishment?
If you try to put up notices to find others like you in your area, or contact other teachers to get them to refer their students at a similar level to you, you'll need to do several things before the first get-together: 1) find a location and 2) plan what you'll play. There's nothing more frustrating than having people get together and saying "What do you want to play?" "I don't know, what do YOU want to play" and having that go back and forth for a while. Plan what you want to play and have printed music ready for your guests. That way you can practice the printed music and be all set to play, since you say you're not comfortable reading music right off the bat. And be willing to put your best effort into reading whatever music the others bring.
All along I thought this was something "social media" was supposed to be good for...
Check out ACMP (amateur chamber music players, acmp.net). They are an organization that serves (mostly amateur) chamber music players. There is a yearly fee for which you get access to their member directory and can try and contact people near you that may be willing to play with you. They also have information about chamber music workshops and various other helpful info and links.
Look for a fiddle club nearby. Often they have a "slow" group, which means you play tunes at a comfortable tempo. (You will understand what an "uncomfortable tempo" is when you sit in with the club.)
Hi, I would echo Michael Darton's point - I am a member of a New Horizons orchestra, and it is terrific. It is lots of fun and very motivating.
If you're into fiddling, see if there's a scottish group nearby - they're more likely to play in different keys and to have seconds and cello/bass parts, and to attract more musicians with classical experience (at least they do in Australia). Swedish and baltic music, when played in it's own tradition, also often has a seconds part as well.
Thank you for these wonderful ideas. I've looked around the Portland, Oregon, area and I found a couple of community orchestras, however at this point my abilities are still not ready for prime time when it comes to that level of playing. There are several Old Time and Bluegrass jams in the area, and I think I'll continue to drop into those on occasion, as well as a couple of Irish jams at some pubs.
Check out your local library and churches for places to have your open-mic events. My local library has a very nice small auditorium which is available for such events for free as long as no admission fee is charged. And many churches will charge a modest fee to rent out their auditoriums (not the sanctuaries) and some will even rent out their sanctuaries for such events. Unitarian churches seem particularly open for such things. If there is a rental fee you can place a basket near the door and ask for good-will donations to help offset the cost.
Thanks, David, great ideas!