Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How to get ready for a first rehearsal

Dear Flute-Lovers,

 Top quality ideas for "Preparing for the First Rehearsal" from Mark Nuccio, principal clarinet of the Houston Symphony and former associate principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic. Such fantastic advice!
Read his entire article here.
(Photo at left: a local bird perhaps mistakenly, prepares from inside his instrument.)

I'll just add some quick pointers for intermediate flutists who haven't yet encountered professional-level rehearsals yet:

Premiere piece of advice:  Study the written music score, learn the piece by listening to it (via youtube or other mp3/cd recordings), and feel free  mark your score in pencil so that you understand important features that will affect your part. Be familiar with the overall architecture and lines of the piece of music. If you own the piano part, play through the piano part. If you are playing a flute duet/trio/quartet, and there is no score available, record your rehearsal, or learn all three parts and record them on your multi-track recorder, if you have one (I have a Zoom H4N as do several of my adult students.)
Note: You probably already know this, but, er, semi-sight-reading at a first rehearsal, unless specifically a "sight reading fun-hour", is not the thing at all.

For Intermediate Flutists:

Take a photo-copy of your parts, and leave the originals safely tucked away, so that you can mark up your own personal copy to your heart's content. You can even three-hole-punch it (I know, I'm so analog! :>) and put your parts in a binder. That way when the performance arrives, you'll be used to reading the whole show, in order, out of a thin black binder, and can take those parts home with you again. Brilliant right? Do not overmark the original sheetmusic that has to be handed back in and ONLY mark in pencil, lightly if you have found note-errors or truly important changes to the part.

Now, here's how to start preparing:

From listening to several recordings and studying the actual score (if available):

1. Mark the typical tempo for the piece of music in pencil on your part (and you can mark and erase which tempi you are currently working on if you are learning everything slowly, as you should always do.)

2. If you have a tricky entrance: write penciled-in notation cues into your part (from listening to recordings) that tell you which instruments are playing, audibly, just before you re-enter after your rests. Example: "Fl,1 - and then in notation: "three eighth notes pick up" written before your next entrance will cue you to enter correctly. Practice entering tricky parts along with the recording until you're sure.

3. As you listen to recordings, take note of whether your parts are melody, or harmony parts.

I'ts likely that in an ensemble, you will increase one dynamic level if you are the melody from the printed dynamic.

If in a given section of music, you are the harmony part, you will likely play down one or even two dynamic levels so the melody is clearly heard. But be supportive in your sound quality, so that you enrich the melodic soloist's tone quality.

Mark your part in pencil with instrumental cues. For example, if you are playing together with a clarient, the short hand is "w clr."
Everyone playing together is, in shorthand: Tutti.
If you're together with Flute 3 and it's important to note that, you write: "w Fl3" over that section of melody.

Then at the first rehearsal, you have a pencil marking that tells you listen carefully to the melody instrument, so that you will be able to follow the style and tempo of that melody instrument as a terrific support person in terms of sound and style.

Mind you, this is providing you can hear them clearly in your rehearsal space.
If you cannot hear them clearly, likely everyone is probably playing too loudly. (exhuberance can equal cacophony, doh.)
 Room acoustics also play a role. Sometimes you can be defeated by them. (more on this at the original article). Asking everyone to play at half-volume until they can hear properly is a suggestion that conductor's would make under these circumstances.

4. Very very long rests can have intrumental counting cues penciled in by you, in advance, from listening to recordings, that tell you which instrument you will hear clearly at a specific place in your counting of long reams of bars-rest. It's always corroborating to be counting "53-2,3,4" and hear a French Horn in that very same bar when your fifty-eight-bar-long rest says "Horn -53-".

5. Listen to the quality of sound of the instruments on the recordings, at the points just before you enter after a long rest and make a point of learning to join in their style, colour, timbre, dynamic, tuning and tempo when you join in and play along. Prepare your part with the knowledge of the interweaving of different voices, and where your voice fits into the entirety, in terms of quality of your sound and the style at that exact point in the piece.

(Note: Just facially glazing over and then suddenly/alarmingly blatting your way back in like Hercules the Insane Destroyer, is not a great way to re-enter after a long hiatus where others have woven intricate, delicate otherworldly filmaments, ....ur......ha ha. :>)

6. Pre-tune all your home practice by using The Tuning CD.
 (Amazon/itunes has mp3s of these 'open-fifth-octave' three minute drones for tuning. My own Tuning CD blog-article is here.) I actually own the CD!!! That's how long I've been using it: nothing like it for developing your ear in a truly real and useful way.

7. Play everything you're preparing with a metronome. Make it come alive with the metronome. No one truly realizes how un-rhythmically they are warping it until it's too late. Be well-prepared to play accurately at several different tempi. And hey, honestly, don't think others won't notice what you don't notice about your wonky rhythm. eek. Best possible preparation would be play along with the Tuning CD and the metronome! Then record it! Then listen back!
What do you hear? Ah ha? Ah ha, ah HA???!!   :>D

8. Match the style of articulation to your fellow players, and practice various note lengths (how short should the staccatos be? How liquid the legato? How bouncy the accents? How forceful the sforzando?)
You can preview the style by listening to a variety of recordings, and then be ready to match what your fellow musicians have chosen instantly when you hear them at the first rehearsal.

9. Get your page turns sorted out before the first rehearsal. The cutting of copied-pages to reduce page turns is nothing new; scotch tape and scissors are often faster than computer-image-cut-and-paste. But since you're using your own copies, and not cutting original printed music, you can place the pages how you best need them (three across, zig-zag folded/book folded etc.)
With careful forethought, oversized pages can be reduced to fit a binder, with all page turns made easily.

The best tape for the spines of pages being made into booklets is masking tape for the spine, clear tape for the inside folds.
Don't leave page turn problems any later than first rehearsal if you can clearly see a way to preprepare your part to avoid sheetmusic mishaps.

And my wisest advice for a first rehearsal:

10. Be gracious under pressure; listen more, say much much less. Listen listen listen. :>)

See more:

Comments welcome.

Comments (2)
Blogger Hilary3 said...

if you use an app on an iPad or other tablet, make a copy with and without repeats. Ask before you start whether you will be playing repeats so you know which version to use. Know how to annotate your part before your first rehearsal, and practice this at home. If you are slow at this, carry a notebook so you can make the annotations at home. Don't count on your memory alone! And make sure your foot pedal has enough power to get you through rehearsals.

I have vision problems, so must enlarge most parts. Try to get an advance copy of your part so you can make it readable. I use LargePrintMusic, an ingenious app for Windows that lets you play around with the number of measures per staff and staves per page and produces a pdf file once you are satisfied with the result. You can print the pages out if you are old school or for backup, or import the results into most music apps. Much easier to handle than enlarging music on a copy machine!

Thursday, September 13, 2018 8:06:00 AM

Blogger S.Tomizawa said...

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Thursday, September 13, 2018 8:49:00 AM


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