Preparing for a symphony concert

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AndrewMeronek
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Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by AndrewMeronek » Wed May 15, 2019 5:30 am

What are some good approaches to preparing as best as possible for a concert - and the first rehearsal in a symphony so as to truly be ready for all the quirks that a conductor throws at you? I'm thinking not just the obvious - be able to play your part - but how to pick up things that aren't always obvious your part like rubato, dynamic balance, where to listen across the orchestra to match phrasing, etc?
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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BGuttman
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by BGuttman » Wed May 15, 2019 5:57 am

Ifyou have played for the conductor before you will know his quirks. If you haven't, be prepared to change what you are doing to meet any requests. I had one conductor tell me I was too loud even though I wasn't playing ;)

If it sounds like a concerto for trombone and orchestra, you are playing too loud.
Bruce Guttman
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Burgerbob
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by Burgerbob » Wed May 15, 2019 11:35 am

Know the part (and the work) well enough that surprises won't throw you.
harrisonreed
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by harrisonreed » Wed May 15, 2019 11:37 am

Properly marking up your part ahead of time, including cues that aren't written in, can really help.
Bach5G
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by Bach5G » Wed May 15, 2019 11:46 am

Listening to a recording (You Tube) of the piece with your part (or the score) in your hand (maybe even playing along) and following along helps. Comparing a couple of versions is useful.
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JohnL
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by JohnL » Wed May 15, 2019 12:47 pm

The conductor probably has his/her favorite recording; if possible, that's the one to listen to.
harrisonreed wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:37 am
Properly marking up your part ahead of time, including cues that aren't written in, can really help.
Measure numbers for every entrance you have. Useful when the conductor calls out a bar number that's between rehearsal numbers and you need to enter a few measures later.
norbie2018
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by norbie2018 » Wed May 15, 2019 12:52 pm

All the above tips are helpful. In the end, playing in as many ensembles as possible and discovering what works for you will be the most effective teacher.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu May 16, 2019 9:47 am

Yes, cool, I do all of the above.

One thing I'll add is to memorize transition sections. With this idea that I *don't* know the conductor, it really helps to be able to get my eyes off the page when the conductor really needs to feed information. I'm not one of those people who can reliably watch two things at once.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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Matt K
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by Matt K » Thu May 16, 2019 9:55 am

One thing that is great about orchestral music is that, very often, the scores are available publicly for free. That provides a tremendous resource to be able to actually see what you are hearing when you listen to something. One listen with the score in hand is often enough to make sure you know everything to listen for for me. After you do that for awhile, things start to become more natural. Orchestral music is often fairly predictable both harmonically and melodically, so you can pick up on the patterns. And then when it isn't it's also easy because it's such a jarring departure from the predictability!
PhilTrombone
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by PhilTrombone » Thu May 16, 2019 10:29 am

One thing I'll add is to memorize transition sections.
Well said.

Know the road map (Repeats, Da Capo, etc; Where is the DS?)
Know where the temp changes are.
Know where the key changes are.
Know the standout parts where trombones are featured or especially important.

All this enables you to keep your eyes on the conductor and respond to her/him. Make sure the conductor sees that you are watching; they will rave about what a great player you are! :idea:
VJOFan
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Re: Preparing for a symphony concert

Post by VJOFan » Thu May 16, 2019 12:08 pm

Not so much preparation as a mindset-

The level of mental focus required in an orchestra, for me, has always been the highest level I need. Any other setting there is a rhythm section, I have much more active parts or I have more control over how the rehearsal or performance will go.

Be prepared to be very on for the whole rehearsal.

The best tips above, in my opinion, are the ones that lean toward almost having the entire piece memorized (all the parts of the whole piece) so you always know where you are to spite anything that may be going on in front of you on the podium or around you.
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