I hope you all are having a lovely evening watching the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. I know I am here glued to the television now that Ireland is in it…
Now back to my reason for writing this blog. Over the past few weeks I have had a number of questions about the benefits of joining an orchestra.
One of the great joys of music is to share the performance of music in a duo or larger group. There are thousands of pieces for solo instruments; in particular for the piano. While they can be fascinating to practice and play on your own, I think the real fun in being able to play music is to engage with other musicians at any level, especially in a live concert setting.
The great joy of improvisation in jazz, where you can let your imagination take flight like Roy Eldridge, Thelonious Monk or John Coltrane is most enjoyable and a far more potent experience in a group where you can be encouraged to play better and with more expression. On many recordings of jazz musicians playing a jazz piece, you can often hear the other members of the band encouraging the person soloing with sounds and even words of approval, to spur on the soloist to improvise with more passion and ‘soul’, to take flight as their musical imagination soars from their spirit.
By playing in an orchestra, students of any ability will find that their reading of music, their music theory, harmonic ‘ear’ and knowledge of instruments will dramatically improve as they can listen to and join other performers as they read their scores and instrumental parts. Their musical timing will also be greatly enhanced as they have to perform in time together correctly and sensitively with the other players.
Also, any composer or orchestrator will find that their compositions will become far more colourful in terms of arranging and orchestration if they are involved in an orchestra or band. The great French composer Maurice Ravel is consistently regarded as one of the true masters of beguiling, impossibly beautiful orchestrations whether in his own compositions or in his orchestrations of other composer’s works. It is now observed that Ravel regularly asked instrumentalists and members of orchestras for tips on how to write better and more effectively throughout his career and hearing and playing in orchestras will have a similar effect on improving composition and orchestration for instruments of any type.
There are now many orchestras in Europe who are engaging in the new trend of playing in concert without reading any scores or instrumental parts. The great pleasure that playing in this way affects the musicians playing together is very obvious to the eye. Over the last few years, particularly during the Proms season in the summer, in Great Britain, several period instrument orchestras and/or conventional symphony orchestras performed in this way without reading physical scores. The result is that the concert becomes like a conversation musically between the players. Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica came to life in an incredibly infectious way last year when the Aurora Orchestra performed during the Proms and the great enjoyment of the musicians in the orchestra was a joy to behold.
Having played in many orchestras and bands over the years the biggest recommendation I can give about this incredible involvement is one word: Fun! When you are playing together with a group of any size the sense of fun that playing together generates is incredibly infectious and really makes all that practice over the years seem so worthwhile and truly rewarding.
Playing in an orchestra will also encourage and aid people who can suffer from stage fright and performance anxiety as the focus of a recital will be generally more on the group playing as a whole and not specifically on one musician.
I would always say that people and particularly children should be allowed to play in an orchestra or band as early as possible in their musical studies as they will become more accustomed to being in such a group and will feel more comfortable when performing. The many friends that a young musician can make in an orchestra or group will be for life due to a mutual sense of collaboration and a shared experience of fun.
There are numerous orchestras and bands of all ability all around Ireland so I would really recommend getting in there and embracing in the incredible thrills of playing in any orchestra or group! You never know you might be the next Eurovision winner.
Remember please get in touch with www.musicavenue.ie and we will be more than happy to recommend the best orchestra for you or your child.