Since my first blog last year was a plea to separate the band and orchestra, I feel it is only right to start this year with a thank you for my fulfilled wishes.

Even having had only a few orchestra rehearsals, I have high hopes.

We’ve been able to get through four pieces, and both rehearsals have sounded better than the majority of last year’s classes.

I attribute this success to two factors: camaraderie and experience.

Being in a smaller group naturally results in a closer ensemble, both physically and emotionally.

Surprisingly, just being in a tiny space like the Music Room has been extremely helpful. It is much easier to hear the other parts in a piece when they’re being played just feet away.

Back when we were rehearsing in the MP room with the band, it was practically impossible to hear the other strings. This was partly due to how much louder band instruments naturally are, but also because of the room’s acoustics.

The small orchestra has also made the class itself more enjoyable. It’s a more relaxed atmosphere, where a chuckle is acceptable rather than distracting. This mood makes us more invested in the orchestra and more focused during rehearsal, which will undoubtedly pay off during festivals and performances.

All the members of the orchestra are also much more experienced in what we’re doing.

With the combined band and orchestra, no one really knew what to expect or how to adapt. Sure, we’d played the occasional piece with the band, but we were then having to spend every rehearsal with them. Our lack of experience in such a group made the first half of the year an introduction to playing in that kind of ensemble.

Then we only had a semester to really work on sound quality and perfect the pieces we’d been working on. Naturally, our performances would have profited from more of this kind of work.

However, in this year’s orchestra, everyone (including the new freshmen) has had experience playing in an orchestra. We’ve even had the same teacher.

Instead of being forced to “guess and check” throughout the year, we are in our element and can focus on improving.

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