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Poll: Do you play in a group?
Share you group playing experience
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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cid
November 17, 2019 - 8:35 am
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Have you ever, or do you play your bowed string instrument in any form of group or orchestra? This includes all group playing, such as: going to your local pub and just fiddling with a group of musicians, a community orchestra that welcomes every level of musician, meeting up occasionally with friends in a park, full fledged formal try-out orchestras, any group no matter how frequently or infrequently, paid or not paid. I am not talking about group lesson formats.

Do you play your bowed string instrument in any form of group setting?

  • Yes(73% : 8 votes)
  • No(27% : 3 votes)
Total Voters: 11

If No, above

  • No, but I would like to in the future(67% : 2 votes)
  • No, there is no opportunity where I live(33% : 1 vote)
  • No, I cannot play in front of people(0% : 0 votes)
  • No, other reason (If you can, could you explain in a reply post? If you are not comfortable doing so, not problem.)(0% : 0 votes)
Total Voters: 3

If you ever did or still do play with a group, feel free to add a post after your poll response and explain what type of group performances you do. The following information might be helpful to those considering doing this.

How far into your learning experience were you before you started playing in a group(s)?

What type of group is it?

How often do you get together to perform?

How often do you get together to practice?

How many members are in your group(s)?

How many times a year do you perform as a group?

How many bowed string instruments, and how many with the instrument you play?

Do you, or have you ever, taken lessons?

How do you feel this has helped you in your learning the bowed string instrument you play?

How has performing in a group added to your enjoyment of your bowed string instrument?

Has performing with a group enhanced your personal life, outside of your instrument? For instance, what would you say to someone who is pondering joining a group? What should she/he look for, if there are options for different groups where she/he lives? What should (s)he take into consideration so that (s)he gets the most from her/his experience and does not get in over her/his head? In other words, what to consider so she/he joins into a group that is playing music that corresponds with her/his abilities, with a challenge to improve, and not hold the musician back?

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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MoonShadows
Stroudsburg, PA
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November 17, 2019 - 12:30 pm
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At only 10 months in with the fiddle, I feel I am too green to play with a group, even a local jam.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks - Learning to Play the Fiddle as an Adult

The Friends of the Sons of Liberty - Three Inspiring Young Men playing Early American Fiddle Music 

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x Coach
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November 17, 2019 - 10:32 pm
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My story is unique. When I found someone who would be willing to give me lessons, she also said plan on joining our group an hour after your first lesson. So, being opened minded I went. This was a little over a year ago. They were having their first practice for their Christmas concert. 2 hours later, I walked out of the church with my head spinning. Some songs were easier than others. It wasn’t just the notes but also difficult bowing. Every person welcomed me and eased my anxiety. One guy told me that I  would be a better player by being in the group. He was right. I didn’t play many notes that concert but was better by the time the summer concert came along. The group only does 2 a year. I have improved since last year, am playing Violin 2 during this Christmas concert. Because of joining the group, I was asked to join another group which includes dulcimer players, violinists, contrabassists and 1 guitarist. It is an interesting mix of instruments. We play simple fiddle songs and hymns. Also, are playing Christmas songs now. We do 5 or 6 concerts in the fall at senior centers and retirement homes. Everything is very low key, simply bowing. Both groups have been life changing for me. Great people who don’t take themselves too serious but try to play the very best they can. So I say, find a group. If you can’t play all the notes so what, eventually you will. You will become a better player from being in the group. I can’t even begin to tell how much I am enjoying life at 61 years of age. All because of a violin. Cheers Everyone!  Sincerely, Mike

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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November 17, 2019 - 10:47 pm
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x Coach said
My story is unique. When I found someone who would be willing to give me lessons, she also said plan on joining our group an hour after your first lesson. So, being opened minded I went. This was a little over a year ago. They were having their first practice for their Christmas concert. 2 hours later, I walked out of the church with my head spinning. Some songs were easier than others. It wasn’t just the notes but also difficult bowing. Every person welcomed me and eased my anxiety. One guy told me that I  would be a better player by being in the group. He was right. I didn’t play many notes that concert but was better by the time the summer concert came along. The group only does 2 a year. I have improved since last year, am playing Violin 2 during this Christmas concert. Because of joining the group, I was asked to join another group which includes dulcimer players, violinists, contrabassists and 1 guitarist. It is an interesting mix of instruments. We play simple fiddle songs and hymns. Also, are playing Christmas songs now. We do 5 or 6 concerts in the fall at senior centers and retirement homes. Everything is very low key, simply bowing. Both groups have been life changing for me. Great people who don’t take themselves too serious but try to play the very best they can. So I say, find a group. If you can’t play all the notes so what, eventually you will. You will become a better player from being in the group. I can’t even begin to tell how much I am enjoying life at 61 years of age. All because of a violin. Cheers Everyone!  Sincerely, Mike

  

That's how I see it. I joined an orchestra when I'd been playing for a year and a half, self-taught, and my head was spinning after the first five minutes of the first rehearsal. But playing in a group is a great source of motivation to practice, and if you play with people better than you, you end up getting a lot of useful pointers.

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starise
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November 18, 2019 - 11:54 am
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October was 4 years playing the violin. I mostly began in an Irish session group setting my 1st year. There are quite a few of those around here.Most are at least an hour away from me, but a few are a bit closer. Different sessions have different feels. Most are held in bars, although a few are held in private residences.

I was lucky enough to get my present teacher from such a group although she also plays classical music.

I have been very lax lately in attending any session on a regular basis because of my work/lesson schedule. I started out all full of vinegar in the sessions. Now I'm going through a phase I find a little disappointing, going back over basic material and trying to get it all right..the right way to hold the violin, the left fingers, the bow, the correct ways to play bow strokes based on the material. Mostly it's been training material geared to get me playing the "right way". I know I need to learn these things, but I find I'm slipping on my Irish reels, jigs and polkas. Last night I had enough and forgot about my lesson. Decided to just play some of those tunes I knew. Felt good to do that for one night...now I guess it's back to that lesson grind again.

And here's the thing. I hold no one at fault on this. Going to a technique heavy classical training schedule has taken some of the vinegar out of me, some of the fun. I find myself dreading practice some nights. When I was first beginning I didn't know what I didn't know. I was focused on just playing. I was learning and playing tunes. Now that I know what I don't know I almost don't feel worthy to move into the sessions again until I get some of the other stuff right. I think I need to come back out of that shell to play in sessions and enjoy playing again. It's tough though.

So if me playing in groups were a visual graph you would see it going way up in the beginning, then beginning to slump and then staying at a low ebb. If you compare it to my actual playing  you would likely see the graph starting low and beginning a slow ascent upwards. In other words I'm getting better at some things but I'm not enjoying the journey all the time 🙂 I know I'm probably rusty on a few tunes I had memorized just because I've been working on my techniques.

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Gordon Shumway
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MoonShadows said
At only 10 months in with the fiddle, I feel I am too green to play with a group, even a local jam.

  

Join a beginners' orchestra. The emphasis is on join, not on beginners.

Andrew

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 18, 2019 - 5:54 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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The tough part is to begin doing it. It's always easier to continue doing so after you've taken the first steps. Playing with others is a great way to improve and to have more fun learning and playing.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cid
November 18, 2019 - 6:11 pm
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I think that if there was a group that jist sort of got together around here, I might consider. I am in a drought as far as bowed string instruments goes. Reading the comments has made me think about conquering playing in front of people, but maybe if we are just “jamming?” and having fun and helping each other it might be different.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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cid said
I think that if there was a group that jist sort of got together around here, I might consider. I am in a drought as far as bowed string instruments goes. Reading the comments has made me think about conquering playing in front of people, but maybe if we are just “jamming?” and having fun and helping each other it might be different.

  

Many fiddle groups are like that.

If you're thinking more classical, or looking to play viola or cello, maybe you can find a non-performing community orchestra in your area? In the Bay Area, there's an orchestra called TACO (Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra) that meets once a month just to play music together for fun, without ever performing, and welcomes everyone from beginners to professionals. I heard about a similar group forming in Los Angeles.

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Ripton
Vermont, Massachusetts or somewhere in between
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Nothing close to me that I am aware of, or will fit my schedule. There is a Blue Grass group but they tend to meet on Sundays. I have had the enjoyment of learning and jamming at the Joe Val Bluegrass festival. By my third session I was feeling more at ease.  Irregular work schedule also not very helpful. 

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cid
November 18, 2019 - 7:03 pm
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Not in my area. I am rural in the northeast. Schools in my area have bands, not orchestras. I am lucky to have a teacher who went to a school that had orchestra. But, in my town and county, no such luck. It’s fine. I would most likely freeze and never go again, anyway. Seriously. It is just me. 😁

I am sure all these comments will help others check out the possibilities, which was the main purpose of me creating this poll. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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GregW
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I had my first lesson a week after renting a violin in july-ish of 2017 and took lessons for about 6 months before being able to move into a group class.  During that time I attended a "slow" jam and mainly played guitar but tried to play whatever tune we were practicing in fiddle class on my turn to pick a song.  It was horrible but I pushed myself to give it a go.  Once I stepped into the group class I fell away from the jam with the exception of an occasional Irish session they have.  Id bring whatever the group class was working on and pick those tunes on my turn.  The group class has served as playing with others most of this year.  We work on student concert material that happens several times a year.  I'm trying to motivate myself to get back into the jams especially old time and the Irish session.  Wanted to try and break the habit of taking sheet music and try and memorize tunes.  I don't think I'll ever be "ready" just need to jump back in and start.  Theres only so much prep you can do alone I think.  At some point if the goal is to play in a group you have to just GO.  Theres one tommorow..think I'm busy though..embarassed

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AndrewH
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I've been playing in orchestras for more than 18 years now, have been a regular member of six orchestras and subbed in nine others, and currently play in more than one group at different levels, so I'm not sure what kind of response is most helpful. I think I'm going to describe my first group (and some general advice) in one post, and my current groups (and what I'm getting out of each) in a separate post.

My first group was my college orchestra. I went to a small science and technology school with no music department, so the orchestra was a college/community orchestra that was serious (playing all professional repertoire and all classical-format concerts) but accepted a lot of less accomplished players. I joined as a violinist for the last quarter of my freshman year, when I had been playing violin for about a year and a half. I was a lower-intermediate player (Suzuki Book 4) at the time, with some technical deficiencies because I was completely self-taught. After two concerts on violin, I switched to viola, only switching back to violin for my last year in this orchestra because of a surplus of violists that year. The orchestra rehearsed weekly and performed four times a year: three concerts during the academic year and one concert in the summer. During the academic year, it was about 70 people including about 50 string players (about half were students), and in the summer it was typically about 40 people including about 25 string players (mostly community members with whatever students were in the area for the summer).

At first I didn't actually play much. I sat in the back and faked as much as 75% of the time in my first concert. But I got lots of mini-lessons from excellent musicians and improved a lot, not only in individual technique but in my ability to listen for how all the parts fit together. By the time I graduated, I was playing the majority of the time. The key here was not being embarrassed by my lack of ability. People do tend to be helpful in most places. You'll find that people in community orchestras (including college/community orchestras) are usually not competitive at all and really want everyone to contribute as much as they can. Occasionally there is an orchestra with a few inflated egos in it (and I've played in a couple of them over the years), but it's not the norm at all.

It was also a great social outlet. At least half of the friends I've kept in touch with from college are from the orchestra.

General advice in picking an orchestra: try to get some sense of what kind of music they play and what their motivation is. I recommend attending a concert before you join the orchestra, and if you have the chance, chat with the conductor and some of the musicians. It may even be helpful to ask to sit in on a rehearsal, so you can to see how they operate. You progress more in an orchestra that really digs into the pieces and works on trouble spots, rather than one that just runs through the music over and over.

 

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MoonShadows
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Gordon Shumway said

MoonShadows said

At only 10 months in with the fiddle, I feel I am too green to play with a group, even a local jam.

  

Join a beginners' orchestra. The emphasis is on join, not on beginners.

  

Unfortunately, I am not interested in an orchestra since my main interest is old time music. I did go to a blue grass "shindig" a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon that had two bands playing in the main room and was supposed to have informal jam sessions in adjoining rooms, but no one showed up for the jam sessions but me. Everyone there came to hear the bands.

There is an Old Time Jam once a month about 40 miles from where I live, but as someone who gets up on a daily basis between 2 - 3am attending a jam session that won't get me back home until after 10:30 -11 at night is tough, not to mention I have a problem driving in the dark.

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks - Learning to Play the Fiddle as an Adult

The Friends of the Sons of Liberty - Three Inspiring Young Men playing Early American Fiddle Music 

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MoonShadows
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AndrewH said

cid said

I think that if there was a group that jist sort of got together around here, I might consider. I am in a drought as far as bowed string instruments goes. Reading the comments has made me think about conquering playing in front of people, but maybe if we are just “jamming?” and having fun and helping each other it might be different.

  

Many fiddle groups are like that.

If you're thinking more classical, or looking to play viola or cello, maybe you can find a non-performing community orchestra in your area? In the Bay Area, there's an orchestra called TACO (Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra) that meets once a month just to play music together for fun, without ever performing, and welcomes everyone from beginners to professionals. I heard about a similar group forming in Los Angeles.

  

I checked out the TACO site. Got me to thinking....Perhaps I am not the only adult beginning fiddler in my area who would like to play with other adult beginning fiddlers and those who don't have others to play with. Just have to think how I would go about finding others to start an informal group. Ads, Facebook, etc. Have to give this some thought...maybe I could start something myself!

Jim

Fiddling for Older Folks - Learning to Play the Fiddle as an Adult

The Friends of the Sons of Liberty - Three Inspiring Young Men playing Early American Fiddle Music 

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AndrewH
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I currently play viola in two community orchestras and one chamber ensemble, and occasionally sub in other orchestras.

Orchestra No. 1: elite (semi-pro) community orchestra

This orchestra plays 8 concerts a year:

5 classical concerts
1 pops concert
1 “Rising Stars Concert” showcasing an outstanding high school or college age musician in two or three solos with orchestra.
1 Family Concert (short educational program aimed at younger children)

For each of our regular classical concerts, rehearsals are 3 hours, weekly, for 4 weeks plus a dress rehearsal the night before the concert. For the pops concert and the Rising Stars Concert, we rehearse twice during the same week as the concert. For the Family Concert, we usually have just a single 1-hour rehearsal the day of the concert because it always includes at least one piece from our most recent classical concert (already fully rehearsed) and the rest of the music in Family Concerts isn't hard for us.

For our most recent concert, we had a total of 72 musicians on stage including 47 string players. I was playing in a section of 8 violists.

I joined this group when I was about 12 years in, and still had never taken lessons, but had about 10 years of orchestral playing experience. (I eventually took lessons a few years later.) I auditioned mostly for the experience of taking a formal audition (solo + excerpts), and was surprised to get in. For the first year or so I didn't feel like I was really keeping up with the expectations, but after that I started to get used to the short rehearsal cycle. The expectation of having our parts more-or-less learned by the second rehearsal, so that we could spend most of our rehearsal time focusing on musical interpretation, really forced me to get better at figuring out the most comfortable fingerings in the first few days with a piece (other musicians helped with this), drill a wider variety of fingering patterns to the point of being automatic, and practice more efficiently by focusing on trouble spots.

My favorite thing about playing in this orchestra is being part of really excellent performances where everyone is dialed in and the whole orchestra sounds like a single being. There is nothing like it. It feels like flying.

One other thing I've gotten out of this orchestra is opportunities to play outside the orchestra, both occasional paid gigs and for fun. I've subbed in quartets to play weddings and other events with members of the orchestra, and I sometimes get together with other string players to sight-read chamber music.

 

Orchestra No. 2: intermediate-to-advanced casual community orchestra

This orchestra plays 4 concerts a year: two classical concerts and two pops concerts. Rehearsals are 2.5 hours, weekly, plus a dress rehearsal before the concert. Usually there are 8-10 weeks of rehearsals for a classical concert, and 5-6 weeks of rehearsals for a pops concert.

For the last concert I played, a pops concert last month, there were 52 musicians including 28 string players. There were 3 violists, but 3 regular members of the viola section were unavailable that day for various reasons. I'm sitting out the next concert due to a nagging shoulder injury that is forcing me to limit my musical activities, so I don't know how many people are back.

This orchestra does not audition at all and accepts beginners, but tends to be self-selected as it plays the most challenging repertoire of several casual orchestras in the area. (There are still two or three string players who have played for less than 2 years, and we do our best to help them contribute as much as they can.) There are actually a surprising number of late starters in this orchestra who are doing quite well – the concertmaster started at 15, the principal 2nd violinist is completely self-taught and started at 21 (now in her mid-30s), and more than half of the cellists started as adults. There's an adult starter in the viola section who started learning with no prior musical training when he was 39, has been playing for 6 years, and is able to keep up with the orchestra.

I joined this group in 2017, when I was recruited to be its principal violist. I was first invited to fill in for the previous principal violist who was injured, and then offered the seat permanently when she moved away six months later without ever returning to the orchestra. I accepted because it's a fun group of people, and because it's inspiring to play with so many successful late starters (I've never seen so many in one orchestra at this level). I'm also still learning from a music perspective because leading a section is a skill in itself. Section leaders act almost as secondary conductors through body movement and bow movement, so have to move decisively. Also, playing principal viola solos whenever called for requires much more conscious thought about tone color and projection (and more confidence!) than playing in the section.

Quintet:

A few years ago, some local musicians started the Sacramento Chamber Music Workshop, a program for organizing amateur musicians into chamber ensembles to play at a series of house concerts. They put people in groups twice a year, with other musicians of similar ability, and then each group chooses a piece to play in the next concert series and has about 5 months to prepare it. Groups schedule their own rehearsals and hire their own coaches (we have a list of local pros who have indicated interest in coaching chamber ensembles), and usually rehearse several times without the coach and two or three times with the coach. I attended one of the house concerts in early June of this year, and signed up for the next session (concerts in January). I think there are now about 50 musicians involved in the program, ranging from lower-intermediate adult learners to semi-pro. The concerts are very informal, mostly in front of other amateur musicians and friends and family.

My group for this session is a cello quintet (standard string quartet + cello, which means 2 violins, 1 viola, 2 cellos) and we're working on the Glazunov cello quintet. Up until now, we've been rehearsing just once a month, but from now until the concert it will be twice a month.

I find chamber music a lot of fun because it feels much more organic. No conductor, so everyone has to watch, listen to, and cue other musicians, and understand when to play out and when to accompany. At its best, it feels like a conversation between a few people.

One of the benefits of having this arrangement is that everyone can pick pieces that challenge them but aren't over their heads, and no one gets either overwhelmed or bored. It's all very self-driven. If this kind of thing exists in your area, it's well worth trying as long as you have the confidence to play a part on your own. And even if you don't think you have the confidence, having a supportive audience helps a lot.

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AndrewH
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MoonShadows said
I checked out the TACO site. Got me to thinking....Perhaps I am not the only adult beginning fiddler in my area who would like to play with other adult beginning fiddlers and those who don't have others to play with. Just have to think how I would go about finding others to start an informal group. Ads, Facebook, etc. Have to give this some thought...maybe I could start something myself!

  

Definitely worth thinking about. A lot of amateur groups start spontaneously. The chamber music program I mentioned in my last post started because a few local amateur musicians had the idea of organizing something, talked to other amateur musicians, and got enough other people interested to make it a thing. And you may have noticed that TACO started out in someone's living room.

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starise
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AndrewH said

MoonShadows said

I checked out the TACO site. Got me to thinking....Perhaps I am not the only adult beginning fiddler in my area who would like to play with other adult beginning fiddlers and those who don't have others to play with. Just have to think how I would go about finding others to start an informal group. Ads, Facebook, etc. Have to give this some thought...maybe I could start something myself!

  

Definitely worth thinking about. A lot of amateur groups start spontaneously. The chamber music program I mentioned in my last post started because a few local amateur musicians had the idea of organizing something, talked to other amateur musicians, and got enough other people interested to make it a thing. And you may have noticed that TACO started out in someone's living room.

  

Andrew, I know you are likely aware of this, so just to reiterate and compare different areas. Sacramento seems to be a really hopping place musically compared to my local area and I suspect many other local areas. Doesn't hurt to look and see what is in one's area. 

I know it's a little bit of a self esteem thing for me in feeling I need to "be ready" before I go out and play in a group. I guess I've heard some pretty bad playing in some of those groups too and I want to at least be able to carry the melody in tune, plus I feel pretty useless just sitting there when I don't know a tune. I'm referring to the mostly folk music groups and not the orchestra groups which operate on a different plan. In the folk groups they generally take turns and when your turn comes around they would like you to to present a tune. That can really put a beginner on the spot.....I know those are sort of negative comments so I want to offset that with a few positive comments. Yes, a beginner can go to those and so long as they are respectful, willing to learn and don't get in the way they are accepted. Some players go to those groups and listen for a long time before they play. Others go and attempt to fit in. That's what I generally do. I've noticed that in my area the people are very generous and willing to help you make music with the group....yes you get the occasional hot dog or perfectionist who can make it miserable, but as a general rule that isn't the case and if you end up in one of those groups with a bad apple there's probably another group around. Classical music groups specifically for beginner adults don't exist in my local area. The orchestra groups that do exist are a distance away and are fairly demanding on who they accept. Big difference from Sacramento for sure.

TBH I can carry a decent handful of tunes at those groups. I'm nowhere near as advanced as a few of the other local players, including my teacher. Perhaps I should "just do it".

My plan was to do what Moonshadows is maybe contemplating, start another local group. Only because I think we need more groups here for people who want to get started...remodeling my house, but after that I can see myself inviting people over to play. The only caveat is I need to solidify more tunes and see how I would go about it. It pays to have a few experienced players , even in a "beginner" group. I think you need that to progress. Not just decent players, but players who are patient and possibly even willing to teach. JMOP. For some odd reason it seem that every local group around me hits right on another date I need and/or is two hours away.

That's no small feat, 4 hours driving time add three hours playing time....that's mostly going to be a weekend for me if it's even possible.

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AndrewH
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starise said
Andrew, I know you are likely aware of this, so just to reiterate and compare different areas. Sacramento seems to be a really hopping place musically compared to my local area and I suspect many other local areas. Doesn't hurt to look and see what is in one's area. 

I know it's a little bit of a self esteem thing for me in feeling I need to "be ready" before I go out and play in a group. I guess I've heard some pretty bad playing in some of those groups too and I want to at least be able to carry the melody in tune, plus I feel pretty useless just sitting there when I don't know a tune. I'm referring to the mostly folk music groups and not the orchestra groups which operate on a different plan. In the folk groups they generally take turns and when your turn comes around they would like you to to present a tune. That can really put a beginner on the spot.....I know those are sort of negative comments so I want to offset that with a few positive comments. Yes, a beginner can go to those and so long as they are respectful, willing to learn and don't get in the way they are accepted. Some players go to those groups and listen for a long time before they play. Others go and attempt to fit in. That's what I generally do. I've noticed that in my area the people are very generous and willing to help you make music with the group....yes you get the occasional hot dog or perfectionist who can make it miserable, but as a general rule that isn't the case and if you end up in one of those groups with a bad apple there's probably another group around. Classical music groups specifically for beginner adults don't exist in my local area. The orchestra groups that do exist are a distance away and are fairly demanding on who they accept. Big difference from Sacramento for sure.

TBH I can carry a decent handful of tunes at those groups. I'm nowhere near as advanced as a few of the other local players, including my teacher. Perhaps I should "just do it".

My plan was to do what Moonshadows is maybe contemplating, start another local group. Only because I think we need more groups here for people who want to get started...remodeling my house, but after that I can see myself inviting people over to play. The only caveat is I need to solidify more tunes and see how I would go about it. It pays to have a few experienced players , even in a "beginner" group. I think you need that to progress. Not just decent players, but players who are patient and possibly even willing to teach. JMOP. For some odd reason it seem that every local group around me hits right on another date I need and/or is two hours away.

That's no small feat, 4 hours driving time add three hours playing time....that's mostly going to be a weekend for me if it's even possible.

  

I do realize I'm a bit spoiled living in a fairly large city, and in California, which as an entire state seems to have a higher density of community orchestras than anywhere else in the US. The choices are unfortunately more limited when you're in a place with fewer people or fewer string players. But I do believe in making the most of what you can find, and it sounds like confidence is as much an issue for you as anything else. Just keep in mind that everyone was a beginner at one point. The experienced players in the group probably still remember what their first session was like.

If you're going to start a group, I think it's productive to go to a few other sessions (doesn't have to be on a regular basis) and meet people. You might even find that there are some experienced players who have the same problem as you -- they might be from your area and making the same drive because there isn't anything closer. And that would take a lot of pressure off you.

By the way, I don't think there's all that much difference between folk and classical groups at the amateur level, in terms of how people act. "I've noticed that in my area the people are very generous and willing to help you make music with the group....yes you get the occasional hot dog or perfectionist who can make it miserable, but as a general rule that isn't the case and if you end up in one of those groups with a bad apple there's probably another group around." -- that also describes the amateur orchestras I've played in.

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starise
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November 20, 2019 - 11:39 am
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@AndrewH , I guess I know what I can do and I know what I can't do. I have full confidence in what I can do smile.

I believe one of the main issues concerning anyone learning a tune or song that is commonly played is that learning it all by yourself puts you at a disadvantage in not knowing how the parts that don't show up on the notation are supposed to be played. 

There is expressive playing in terms of dynamics and articulation that one can't find in only reading the notation. In going to a local group  a person can at least get a feel for the "vibe" of a tune. Pardon me for using a term that I feel is probably not as descriptive as I would like it to be. I have learned tunes, gone to sessions and heard them played entirely differently than I learned them. Either the tempo was different (usually faster) or the players added some " extra stuff" not shown on the notated versions of the music. It should be said there is a bit more liberty in playing most folk music because we can adapt it to a "feel" within reason. Most groups at least play a tune the same each time in that particular group which is why it's probably a good thing to hang with one set of players over time when learning large numbers of tunes and basically learn it the way they play it.

Playing a lead instrument such as a violin give a person some advantage but is also offset by some disadvantage. A.) We had better know how to play it and be ready to be FOLLOWED. B.) If we don't know it EVERYONE will know that. In sessions with multiple violinists it isn't as much of an issue. I have showed up to sessions as the only violinist though. I slogged through it playing the most known common tunes. I pulled it off convincingly but certainly not comfortably.

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