Advice for Orchestra
Haven't posted on here in a long while! I've been playing violin for 2 years now which seems crazy to me! I'm currently working on sitting my ABRSM Grade 5 in a few months which also seems crazy to me!
But that doesn't really relate to what I want to ask I guess. I've been accepted into a local amateur orchestra now (probably the only one near me as I'm in fairly rural Yorkshire). Whilst this is really exciting stuff it's also completely uncharted territory for me and so I was looking for some advice, anything that will help me. The orchestra is currently working on Saint Saens Symphony 2, Borodin Prince Igor Overture and Khachaturian Spartacus Suite if that helps.
Listen to recordings of the pieces as much as possible, so you know where your part fits in and you can find your place if you get lost.
Let me add - if you already have the music practice it before the rehearsals. If you don't have it try to download and print the parts from IMSLP.org .
Some more tips:
Thank you all so much for the advice! Not bringing a pencil is the kind of small silly thing I would easily do. I spent some time last night going through the music, it varies from super easy to then being what is for me really hard but doesn't seem to have a middle ground. Luckily non of it seems impossible!
Trevor covered most of what I have to say. I'd add: in long rests, or in long passages of repeated notes, it helps to take note of when other people are entering with the melody (and even writing it in) to keep track of where you are, or to know what happens in the last measure or two before your entrance.
One more piece of advice: Whenever the conductor works with a section that you are not part of: Don't tune out. Don't think avout some problem of yours either. Keep focused on the rehearsal and listen to what the conductor says to the people involved. You'll learn a lot that way.
One lesson many of us have to learn the hard way: If the rest of the section is wrong and you're right, you're still wrong. If there is a rhythm that everyone is double dotting even though that's not written in your part, check with your standpartner or the section leader at break to verify this. I once had a mortifying moment during one of my first professional gigs in which I played the correct rhythm but everyone else played what the flutes had, which was a completely different figure (dotted rhythm on beat 1 vs dotted rhythm on beat 2). I was correct, but I was the one that looked bad. It was only an outreach concert, and it wasn't a huge moment, so it could have been much worse, but the point still stands. If you notice a discrepancy between what people are doing and what the music says, check in with them. Either they're wrong and you're bringing it to their attention so they can fix it or you're wrong and need to adjust.
I am not familiar with the ABRSM levels, but if this is your first time playing in an orchestra, one of the things you should start shoring up (perhaps with your teacher) is the ability to count like hell without making it obvious you are counting.
Definitely get your hands on recordings of the pieces you're playing. You can often find them on YouTube, and even rip them to MP3s whose quality will be good enough for practice purposes. Put them into your MP3 player and listen to them everywhere: in the car, on the bus, sitting in the doctor's office, etc. Get to know the music thoroughly; among other things it'll help you count out those long rests. Timing is everything; remember that old saying: "The right note at the wrong time is the wrong note."
Thank you for all the advice everyone! I made it through the first rehearsal and they have asked me back next week so I can't have done too badly! There were quite a few quick runs with lots of accidental that threw me but other than that I feel like I kept up fairly well. And the main thing I think is that I really enjoyed it and can't wait to go again!
They didn't have any wool pulled over their eyes when they accepted you, and have reason to believe that you can only get better.
Peter, have a talk with your teacher. In an orchestra, each member of a pair has "responsibilities". Probably in most community and school settings things are pretty relaxed about this, but you should learn what these conventions are, at least; and implement as many of them as you can.
Looks like Red Desert Violin (https://www.violinist.com/directory/bio.cfm?member=RedDesertViolin) is spamming multiple posts in this forum, under that "EmmaEm" username rather than their own. Kind of disappointing that they would resort to that.