Why create a full orchestra?
- Play music of the world’s greatest composers
- Play music to sound as the composer intended (most of the time)
- The most well-known classical music ensemble
- Collaboration among band & orchestra
- Create a unique experience
- Challenge students
When should I start?
- NOT in the first year! Anytime after…
- Generally in the 3rd year is adequate
- Some repertoire geared at 2nd year players
- Rehearse wind & strings separately, then combine
Working with your School’s band director
- Collaborative, collegial environment
- Join forces
- Share strengths, learn from each other
- Ask him/her to conduct the ensemble too
- Switch roles for a day!
Benefits to the band program
- Increased musicianship for those in the ensemble
- Band students learn to play in sharp keys!
- increased self-confidence
- new awareness of balance, blend, and tone
- Benefits for the band students who aren’t participating
- During the school day
- Top orchestra and band meet at same time
- Before school
- After school or evening rehearsals
- Should be regularly scheduled, because it takes time to develop
- If necessary, “sell” it to your administration.
- Get their full support
- Will need to purchase additional music, instruments, etc.
- Take both wind & string students to a symphony concert
Warm-Up and Tuning
- Tune strings first
- Wind instruments are preparing reeds, putting instruments together
- Be sure to tune wind/brass players when they are warm!
- Allow winds to get used to tuning A440, but also have them tune to the pitches they are accustomed to
- Scale based on literature, helps tune around a base pitch, key familiarity
TONE IS PRIORITY!!
- Being out of tune is often mistaken for bad tone
- Bad tone quality is impossible to tune
- Good warm-ups that focus on sound are important
- Tetrachords or 5 note patterns, ascending and descending
- Address the notes less familiar with students
- Use the strength of each instrument to reinforce each other
- Must have:
- Knowledge of all notes & fingerings
- Good tone & intonation
- Varied use of bow – the ability to alter tone colors, attacks, use all parts of the bow, and shape sound
Wind & Brass
- Instrument transpositions. Must explain “why is it like this??”
- Must explain the differences to the students
- Be empathetic and kind!
- Compare/contrast use of the bow and air use
- Articulation, Movement, etc.
- Be sure sound is supported with fast, warm air
- Must be sensitive to the music, explain the differences from band percussion
- Dynamic markings
- Should generally play different than in concert band (perhaps softer, perhaps louder, depending on how percussionists were taugut)
- Timpani are a must!
- Be particular in regards to mallet type, area of the drum head struck, etc. These tone colors make a huge impact on the overall sound.
What, No Bassoons?
- Doubling wind parts is okay – this isn’t the NY Philharmonic!
- Be flexible and creative
- Re-orchestrate – add parts in when others are resting
- Substitute missing instruments
- Bass clarinets
- Saxophones on horn parts
- More lower sounding instruments will make the group sound more full
- Good score prep a must, particularly with the new instruments
- Write in concert pitches / analysis where necessary. Very helpful and makes you more efficient.
- Finding the right balance of difficulty levels for wind & strings
- Down time
- Musically and educationally worthwhile
- Technical issues
Resources to find Repertoire
- Lucks Music
- Offers transposed parts for some standard repertoire
- Has organized lists of full orchestra music
- Check state lists (OH, FL, GA, TX) – lots of “standards”
- Reference recordings/scores are sometimes more difficult to find
Full Orchestra Gems!
- Michael Allen Warm-ups for Full Orchestra (Hal Leonard)
- Arrangements by Sandra Dackow
- Alfred “First Philharmonic” series
- “Old” arrangements (like Isaac, Alshin, Matesky, etc.)
- Look at smaller publishers for new pieces
- Full orchestra is awesome!!
- Great benefit to all students, music department, and school
- Allows everyone to work as a team for a common cause
- Provides performer & audience appeal