Audition Success

May 17, 2012

I learned this morning that my audition was successful. The good news is I'm in an orchestra now. The bad news is, I'm in an orchestra now. (Grin)

The city were I live has no amateur orchestra which means there is very little opportunity for an adult beginner to play with other musicians on a regular basis. My teacher founded a youth orchestra over 20 years ago and at his suggestion I auditioned for that organization this week. With just two and a half years of playing experience and having just completed book three of Suzuki, I have roughly the same musical experience level as a 7th or 8th grader might. However I bring an adult's life experience and knowledge as well -- something that has advantages and disadvantages. Obviously I can think critically and I am not afraid of asking questions. However I am used to being successful and accomplished so struggling with seemingly simple pieces is at times very frustrating. Learning to play the cello is not easy even as an adult. I can only imagine how difficult it must be at times for younger musicians.

The youth orchestra here is actually two orchestras. The Silver orchestra and the Gold orchestra. Here are the audition requirements for each:

Gold Orchestra

Silver Orchestra

I've just completed book 3 in the Suzuki series, and I am working on the first movement of the Bréval Sonata in C Major. Regarding scales I've learned to play two-octaves for all the major scales and have started learning two-octave versions of the minor scales. Going into the audition I was expecting to be placed in the Silver orchestra for two reasons. First, I've never played in an orchestra before, and two, the literature the Gold Orchestra plays is challenging, including standard string literature that professionals play. My private concern regarding this opportunity (beyond being able to keep up musically) has been the appearance of an adult playing with young people. I do not want my participation to in any way detract from the experience these young musicians have worked so hard to achieve.

In an email David sent me this morning he explained that he and the conductor of the Silver orchestra feel an adult should play with the Gold orchestra. They want to avoid any uncomfortableness parents or children might feel with an adult in the midst of younger musicians. Therefore I'll be in the back of the Gold Orchestra cello section starting in August. This summer, in addition to my normal lesson goals, David and I will be adding some orchestra preparation work - tuning to a 440Hz tone for example, playing and watching the conductor, et cetera.

I am excited at the prospect of playing in an ensemble. And I am very grateful to my teacher for affording me this opportunity.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.