For the past week I’ve been doing an orchestra course. We spent 5 days doing sectional rehearsals (eg brass, wind, violins etc.) in the mornings, then a choir rehearsal and then full orchestra rehearsal every afternoon.
We played Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite, which is one of my favourite pieces of music, so I obviously really enjoyed that. I’ve played it before so there wasn’t much that new to me, but it was really great to see how everyone else grew as musicians during the week, and how much everyone improved (most people were a bit younger and less experienced than me). We also did some pieces with our sections, and our brass section leader picked two really fun but slightly more challenging pieces for us to play, which was really good for me, and also made the improvement over the week even more noticeable in everyone.
We sang Holsts’ ‘Swansea Town’, which was quite tricky, and perhaps slightly too hard for some of us, but the theory was that singing would improve our musicality by helping us to pitch intervals without playing. We also had two ‘musicianship’ lessons in the week, doing Dalcroze Eurhythmics, which was interesting. It involves using movement to teach music, for example doing steps with size relating to the intervals we were singing, and walking and running in time to the music, and catching or bouncing balls on the main beat of the bar. It was challenging (for one thing, I can’t catch to save my life), but I think by the end we’d all learnt a lot.
We also had the opportunity to do some informal chamber music in the mornings before sectionals started, so I finally fulfilled my ambition of playing the first movement of Poulenc’s Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone (YouTube it – it’s great) – now I just need to go back to do the other two.
On Friday, we did a concert of all the pieces we’d been working on in a nearby church, which was loads of fun. There’s nothing quite like the buzz of performing something you’ve worked really hard on really well.