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Thread: Orchestra

  1. #1

    Default Orchestra

    Anyone play in a Mandolin and/or Guitar Orchestra?

    I asked a question about one and was encouraged to give them a try. I'm a little unsure I can keep up but the point of contact was very welcoming. They have a concert coming up so I'm planning on joining right after that in Jan.

    Anything I should know and/or do?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    Quote Originally Posted by Heady View Post
    Anyone play in a Mandolin and/or Guitar Orchestra?

    I asked a question about one and was encouraged to give them a try. I'm a little unsure I can keep up but the point of contact was very welcoming. They have a concert coming up so I'm planning on joining right after that in Jan.

    Anything I should know and/or do?
    I’ve played in one for four years now and love it. I was new to mandolin at the time, so the advice really depends on how much experience you do or don’t have with the instrument.

    Know that it will take time to figure out where your part fits in the song. You will get up to speed with your section eventually. Play the notes you can play and if you can’t keep moving on to those you can. Volume/playing out will come with time and comfort as well. Really just be patient with yourself. The others in your section will all have been first-timers as well at some point and should be understanding.
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    I play with an orchestra and I think you should give it a try! Reading standard notation is essential but I see you’ve played viola and flute so that should help. Being able to find the notes on the instrument is necessary, of course.

    Consider how much time will be needed. Time to learn, practice, attend rehearsals and performances can add up.

    I suggest asking now for the sheet music for some of the pieces they are currently playing. Maybe ask for an average and difficult piece. Then you can get a feel for how much time and work will be needed. Assuming the orchestra has sections, there will be others playing the same part. One can contribute a lot to the section even if some passages have to be simplified.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    I played in the New York Mandolin Orchestra for a number of years. When I first started I could read music notation on mandolin rudimentarily but I got somewhat better as time went on. My background was more in folk music and learning by ear. It helped though that I was seated among other players who could play at least moderately well. In general people were very welcoming and helpful. If you are a little reticent, Heady, you may ask around for some players who might give you some guidance in acclimating to the group. I agree with Peter above to ask for sheet music and work on it on your own to get a sense of the the difficulty. Some mandoin orchestras play more pop music, some work on classical string music and a few might even attempt modern compositions.
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    Playing with a mandolin orchestra and or a chamber group has been some of the most wonderful and rewarding musical experiences in my life.
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    I was an experienced choral musician and teacher, and started mandolin in my late 60's. So the note reading came easy, but my aging fingers were the initial problem. I had never seriously played a string instrument, so I knew how it should sound but I couldn't hit the right frets at the right time--very frustrating. I worked at it, and found the mandocello parts less notey and busy.

    Yes, try it! But be patient and work slow, get to know the instrument with the basic scales and cords and apply that to the orchestral part. A great teacher told me better to play a few notes well than try to play every 16th fast and sloppy. When I was new and struggling, I asked an old timer how he handled the faster runs; he reached in his bag and pulled out a bottle of white-out.
    Hope you follow through and enjoy the experience.
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  13. #7

    Default Re: Orchestra

    Thanks everyone! That was a good idea - the point of contact sent me a couple pdfs of things they'll play in their coming concert. Two I could sight read and the 3rd is totally doable with a moderate amount of practice nothing crazy or intimidating. Just enough challenge to be enjoyable.

    And from my roots in viola the mandolin 2 part makes sense - I'm more in my natural habitat with harmony.

  14. #8
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    A lot of orchestras are in need of more mandola players, so if you have a viola background that's always an option (provided, of course, that you can get your hands on a mandola).

    Given the embarrassment of mandolas in my music room right now, I'd probably rent one out cheap to anyone who wanted to join our mandola section but didn't own an instrument. On the other hand, my orchestra's up to 5 mandola players at the moment and could actually use more help in the first or second mandolins.
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  16. #9

    Default Re: Orchestra

    ^while I don't object, I am currently unable to obtain a mandola.

    I did recently pick up a smallish tenor guitar and I see they have at least one member holding a tenor in their group pic. I'm much better at mandolin but I'll let them know I'm flexible with regard to however they think I can most help.

  17. #10

    Default Re: Orchestra

    So the mandola comment stirred my curiousity and I went on Reverb and was able to resist - but... what kind of listing is this? This is the only picture and it's clearly 3 different instruments - it says "only 1 left", um... ok, which one?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Heady; Nov-28-2021 at 4:39pm.

  18. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    Heady, octave mandolins in the Europe are usually called mandolas and what in North America we call mandola (tuned like a viola) is called alto mandola or even mandoliola.
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  19. #12
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orchestra

    I'm a member of the Long Island Mandolin and Guitar Orchestra. We meet on Tuesday evenings and rehearse for an hour and a half. We play a variety of classical, ethic, jazz and folk-style music. Once in a while we dip into the bluegrass. It's a lot of fun. Players of all different calibers from somewhat new at it to seasoned veterans, from college students to people my Dad's age (I'm in my early 60s). Good conductor. It's about the music. I'd give it a shot, you can always quit if it's not your cup of tea. I really look forward to it each week. Don't know if you live in my area but we also have a concert coming up -- not too surprising, given the holiday season. We also have one in January.
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