Ever wondered what it’s like to play in an orchestra?

Have you ever thought how all the musicians are coordinated and how the performance comes together? What happens if you play the wrong note? (I hope no one heard that??) Do you know what’s involved if you were invited to play with a group in an Aged Care Facility or if you were selected to play during education week with ‘The WASO Rusty Orchestra’? Follow the advice below from experienced musicians in our ‘Guide to Orchestra Etiquette’ below:

  • Always arrive on time for each rehearsal practice and every performance
  • Turn off mobiles – do not text or surf your phone during practice (under any circumstance!)
  • If you haven’t met your neighbours, introduce yourself – you are part of a team
  • Tune your instrument only when it is your section’s turn to tune
  • Your Conductor rules the roost! Follow all the instructions given by them and if you are unsure of anything don’t be afraid to ask
  • Refrain from talking or playing whilst the conductor is talking and this includes when doing sectionals. Chatting to your desk buddy or plucking your instrument during these times is distracting to the conductor and crucial information gets missed by other musicians so listen and be courteous
  • Always stop playing when the conductor stops conducting or motions you to finish. Don’t be the person playing when everyone else has stopped
  • If sharing a stand, the person on the outside plays the top part of the division parts, the person on the inside plays the bottom. The person on the inside also has the important job of turning the page!
  • Count. Count. Count. Timing is everything! Internalise the pace of the beat. If you can, keep one eye on the conductor and one eye on your music
  • If you must choose between getting all the notes or getting the beats, choose the beats
  • If you have to ‘fluff’ a section, get the bowing in sync with your section and skip the notes. It is better to skip a note than to play a solo during a rest!
  • Don’t stare at players who make mistakes, heads whipping around while they play is distracting (and doesn’t make them feel any better). Have you never made a mistake?
  • Don’t be the loudest player in the group unless asked by your conductor
  • Ensure you practice your part of the pieces prior to rehearsal. Rehearsal should not be the only practice you ever do. If possible, listen to a recording of the music you are attempting.
    Practice really does make perfect!

Play with confidence and don’t be ashamed of messing up, we all do it!  Orchestral playing is about teamwork, listening to everyone else and blending your sound. It is important to have a balance between being productive at a rehearsal and having fun. And don’t forget to have lots of that…………fun!