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I Don't Speak Good (sic)

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Tyler L, Apr 14, 2019 at 9:05 AM.

  1. Tyler L

    Tyler L

    Aug 16, 2017
    Urbana, OH
    So I'm not sure if this falls under "Orchestral Technique" per se, but it is a form of technique :D I am a hick from the rural countryside and I didn't really grow up around classical music. I try my best to cover it up, but it still slips out sometimes. I'm auditioning at a local university to join their student orchestra and am meeting the conductor Tuesday. While yes the audition is frightening, I'm also terrified of looking like an idiot by not speaking in the classical language. For example, is it "Beethoven's Fifth," "Beethoven's Symphony Number Five," "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony," or does it matter? Is a list of pieces during a concert a setlist? Is how loud I'm playing called "volume" or something else? Those are all examples and I'm sure there are plenty of phrases that I don't know that I don't know. I'm not around classical musicians enough to ask and I don't want to look like a complete idiot around my instructor or the conductor. Thanks all!
  2. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Don’t worry, nobody expects you to know everything.

    They are looking for a great attitude and some potential. Best to play an easier piece well and with confidence than a tough one poorly. Think about what they want from you and give it to them.

    Have fun with meeting the conductor and be keen.
  3. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Of all the things I'd be concerned with, mastering the lingo and speaking good would be the least of my concerns. :)

    You specifically mention "volume" - when reading music, do you know the difference between p and f? That's the type of thing that is much more meaningful!

    Enthusiasm and willingness to learn will be your best assets as long as it isn't a highly competitive ensemble. Make sure they're on display, don't second guess yourself, and have fun!
    Winoman and Tyler L like this.
  4. You should listen to everyone above. The language is a matter of time and experience. You will pick up the basics in a few rehearsals or lessons.

    To answer your specific questions. I would usually say “Beethoven 5” as a shorthand. “Beethoven’s 5th Symphony” is also fine.

    Volume is usually referred to as “dynamics”. Piano is soft, forte is loud, etc. There’s a bunch of Italian words we use, which I’m sure you can figure them out as needed. Quite a few refer to notated symbols you can look up as you find them (fermata, crescendo, etc).
    Winoman, damonsmith, Tyler L and 2 others like this.
  5. Tyler L

    Tyler L

    Aug 16, 2017
    Urbana, OH
    Thank you all, both to Paul for answering the specific questions so hopefully I can compliment the conductor on the performances Tuesday evening with slightly more sophisticated speech and to Casey and Kro for helping me feel better about my deficiencies and easing my conscience. I've always felt like a square peg in a round hole in the classical realm so your reassurance is appreciated!
    Winoman and damonsmith like this.
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    My suggestion would be this: when you meet the conductor, be very up-front and open about the anxieties you expressed here and your background. Go ahead and say, "I'm nervous, I haven't really had the chance to hang around a lot of musicians, this is my background, I feel like I don't really know the right words to use yet." The vast majority of educators I know, in any field, would be very sympathetic and happy to mentor someone new to the field. It might even work in your favor, as long as the fundamental playing abilities are there that they're looking for.
    Tyler L and Kro like this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    You are what you are. I think your ability as a musician, along with being polite at the interview will mean a lot more than being able to speak like a professor.
    Tyler L likes this.
  8. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    Don't get worked up about the wrong thing, unless you need a red herring to get you through the audition.

    The conductor will (should) only care about how you play and your capacity to commit time and effort.

    Let me tell you about a "hick" bassist who grew up around bluegrass and showed up to a college music program, speaking with a "rural" accent. Nobody cared about his background. What they did care about is how he played. And he blew their socks off with his playing and then made the classical types think twice about the value of bluegrass. The name of that "hick" was Edgar Meyer. . . . Don't ever sell yourself or the people that you identify with, short.
    dhergert and Tyler L like this.
  9. Tyler L

    Tyler L

    Aug 16, 2017
    Urbana, OH
    Sorry for the late reply. Just thought I'd give an update. It went great with the conductor, Dr. Cha! Super nice guy. He said I'm on his list of community members to contact when the auditions come up. Unfortunately he was having a bad day, as I later discovered at the concert. The night before, the principal bassist, Bob Skebo passed away unexpectedly. Dr. Cha dedicated the first piece to him and had some flowers in honor of him on the stool he sat on up front near the bass section. The first piece was the Bach Air Orchestral Suite. It was pretty powerful.

    Anyways, I'll quit rambling. What I do know is that, if the conductor is that caring of a guy, that's the orchestra I want to be in! Thanks again for all of your help and encouragement!
    CaseyVancouver likes this.

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