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Thread: The Really Terrible Orchestra of White Plains, NY

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    NYC metro area
    Posts
    303

    The Really Terrible Orchestra of White Plains, NY

    This is an orchestra for amateurs, many of whom have started playing again after many years. The motto is "all you need is an instrument and a pulse."

    Note: my wife is a professional music therapist. Her main instrument is piano, but she does play some violin. Since I started playing again after many, many decades, we decided to join this orchestra.

    We and I went for our first rehearsal yesterday. The conductor had emailed the parts to us a few days beforehand (2nd violin for Jacqueline, and for me, a choice between 1st and 2nd trombone). The fellow musicians (about 50) were very friendly and very accepting of my limited skills, in fact, I was invited to join their auxiliary Dixieland jazz band (their trombone player is leaving, which leaves a lower-brass vacancy that I can fill on euphonium).

    I found it very strange to be playing a wind instrument with an orchestra, after so many years (piano is my main instrument). On one piece, for example, I had to count 40-odd bars of rest then suddenly enter on a B (I nailed the note almost 25% of the time, the rest of time I hit very, very strange notes, usually Gs or Ds, and no, these were not high Gs and high Ds, these were Bs right above the bass clef staff), some more rests, a flurry of hard-to-finger sixteenth notes (well, I played the first and last notes of each run), etc. At the end of one piece I had to play a note over three measures, fortissimo - and it was part of a very dissonant chord. We in the brass section played that passage a few times, and I was never sure that I was playing the right note, or even playing in tune. But the conductor didn't call me out, so maybe I was hitting the right note.

    By the very nature of the orchestra, there sections weren't perfectly balanced. For example, no violas in the string section. The string bass section had two players?one playing string bass and one guy playing electric bass. There were two oboe players, one of whom doubled English horn (some expensive instruments, right there). In the brass section, we had one French horn (should have been four), six trumpets (should have been four), one euphonium (should have been two trombones) and one tuba. The tuba player had a massive tuba (they come in different sizes, for those who don?t know, and he had one giant horn). When my wife saw me seated next to him, she said, "hey, his is bigger than yours!"

    All in all, I had fun. Now I've just got to learn to play the instrument and learn to play those parts.
    Last edited by dsurkin; 09-09-2014 at 12:34 PM.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo puppy) keep me company while practicing

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by dsurkin View Post
    On one piece, for example, I had to count 40-odd bars of rest then suddenly enter on a B (I nailed the note almost 25% of the time, the rest of time I hit very, very strange notes, usually Gs or Ds, ...
    This can be rather tricky until you get a feel for the horn in the ensemble. But you might find it helpful during your warmup routine to play some simple song by ear. Try for a different song each day - something you just heard on the radio or TV is good fodder. This should help you get used to the "feel" of the horn as you play different notes and also develop a sense of the muscle movement necessary to cover various intervals. After a few days/weeks of this you may find that it becomes easier to pick notes out of the blue.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    NYC metro area
    Posts
    303
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    This can be rather tricky until you get a feel for the horn in the ensemble. But you might find it helpful during your warmup routine to play some simple song by ear. Try for a different song each day - something you just heard on the radio or TV is good fodder. This should help you get used to the "feel" of the horn as you play different notes and also develop a sense of the muscle movement necessary to cover various intervals. After a few days/weeks of this you may find that it becomes easier to pick notes out of the blue.
    Thanks, David. I am making arrangements for lessons, too. I met with the director of one local music conservatory (his brass instructor, a trumpet player, wasn't available) and I'm meeting the euphonium teach at a different music school this week (a former student of Brian Bowman). I'm leaning to the latter because he actually plays euphonium.

    Oh, and I got the name of the orchestra wrong. It should be The Really Terrible Orchestra of Westchester.
    Last edited by dsurkin; 09-09-2014 at 12:38 PM.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo puppy) keep me company while practicing

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