Today was the last rehearsal of the summer season for the orchestra I’ve been playing in. I always love these rehearsals, no matter how frustrating they can get, there’s always something fun about them. This season had its share of frustrations from pitch issues, but that has caused a fair number of good things, too.
Pitch is always a sensitive issue among musicians, so when it comes up as a problem, in earnest, dealing with it is always a learning experience. As learning experiences go, however, it is among the most useful. Through my personal attempts to ensure our section had good intonation this season I’ve grown to understand a great deal about my own playing, but this learning curve of pitch tendencies took me on some other tangents of equal import.
Had you asked me my freshman year of college about pitch issues I would have been quick to blame another, but I’ve since learned that, in music, as in life, we must all take responsibility for our actions. Perhaps I’m not the soul source of our problems, but perhaps I am. Regardless, I am responsible for making my principal sound good to the best of my ability and, therefore, I must do everything I can to ensure she does.
This is why I never understand animosity in or between sections. It doesn’t matter if you’re concert master or last chair viola (sorry!), how you play affects the entire orchestra. Our job is to sound like one cohesive unit and, if one person flounders, our section and our ensembles go bust.
I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t constantly strive to improve. Heaven knows, I walk into every audition craving the principal’s seat, but once results are posted I take to my job and support my section, whether I’m principal or third chair, second flute. Regardless of my placement, there are things I can learn and a role for which I am responsible. It seems to make sense, after all, especially while we’re in school, we’re there to learn and, from my experience, the musical world is too small to make enemies! Besides, why would you want to when there are so many fantastic people in our corner of the world?
Responsibility, camaraderie, and aiming high; they seem appropriate to think about, particularly because seating auditions for school are quickly approaching. Best of luck in the preparation. Aim high, but be happy and responsible for whatever life throws your way!
Also…Nielsen 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87AQsWeUjCc