sammy

Any one hate school orchestra?

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I hate to be an antagonist, but I hate school orchestra class. Does anyone else feel like that? We always play dumb songs and I don't think the teacher likes me very much. frown.gif I really try to be friendly, but she doesn't like me. I am really bored too. We are always doing stupid simple stuff. It seems like I can't wait for the period to be over. I was concertmistress in the 7th grade, but my teacher decided to demote me to 3rd chair. I think she really really doesn't like me. Sigh. I love playing my violin, so why is class such a chore? How are your all's impressions of school orchestras?

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My impression is that while I believe lots of "teachers" don't give students the credit they deserve, sometimes students are guilty of not making the best out of a bad situation. If you're playing pieces way below your level, you should look to a youth orchestra for fulfilment and use the school orchestra as a means to All State, etc. Also use it to work on aspects of technique (curving fingers, perfect position, lovely tone and so forth). The attitude you display here in your post most likely is obvious to your teacher. They like happy people. My overall impression of MOST (not all) school orchestra teachers is they tend to teach to the lowest ability students, making life for the rest miserable. Try to see the good in it though.

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hmm.. i'm not the greatest fan of school orchestra either. It's pretty boring for most times but i have a wonderful wonderful director who understands pretty much all of "musician's woe" that i go through time to time. I feel so much more comfortable talking about some musical stuff to her than to my parents. I take orchestra cuz it allows me to be in Regional and All state orchestra and i can get some extra money out of some quartet gigs my directors gets for school quartet. So hopefully once you go to high school i'll get better.

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Sammy

I know how you feel. I am in a Youth Orchestra, and in the school. Both I am headmistress, however, I do understand your frustration. During class, my teacher gets really boring. She concentrates on the seconds, and violas the most. I think this is because the cellos and bases (as well as the first violinists) are fine doing the relatively easy music.

As for you being moved. I can't really say anything about it, except that maybe you shouldn't take it too personally. If you feel you deserve better, try out for a youth orchestra. In that kind of environment, you learn music that is relatively harder, as well as meet others who take music more seriously (for in most school orchestras, the slackers just want to have an easy passing grade, then really care for the music).

I have a friend who sits third chair, first violin, and my conducter hates her for no reason. Everyone (students, principal, teachers) love her. She is always hyper and cheerful, but the conducter doesn't like her, like everyone else. It's really bizzare. My friend tries to get her to laugh, but she would just look like her, and get an angry look on her face.

Don't feel left out. I think some conducters are unfair at times. She doesn't like me, it's just that I am the few who take orchestra seriously, and she fears that if she demotes me, I will leave, for she knows I can get an A in any class I wish. Plus I am already in a Youth Orchestra. No one works harder than me. However, I would never do that, but I don't mind her being scared like that wink.gif

Good Luck smile.gif

Diana

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I HATE SCHOOL ORCHESTRA!!!!!!!!!!

We are SO bad! I try to play things in high positions and stuff and got yelled at for it! I am sitting behind people who can't play (I'm not criticizing people who try or whatever) and don't know anything. By the way, there are three high school orchestras in my school and I'm in the best. Somehow, all these people who don't care or aren't good ended up in the good orchestra and good people who care are in other orchestras. It's so annoying! Plus, the music is REALLY easy. We're going to Florida for a competition Friday and are pieces are simplified versions of pieces from movies and stuff. School orchestra is HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!

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I must give my interpretation of School Orchestra again! I can truly see eye to eye with violagoddess. The music is pathetically easy!

One fact about school orchestras are, they usually chair people according to age first. For instance, last year, I was third chair. First and second chairs were not into music as I was. THEY even admit I was better, plus we were very good friends! Actually hated the forth chair player. The next thing I know, the Jr. High has to team up with the High School for the graduation concert, she moved me into seconds! Now, I do know that seconds is very important place to be placed. But that is in the real world. Anyone who was considered, old, and okay was in first. The seconds couldn't be helped even if Perlmen came to be the first chair second violinist.

The first violinists that were eighth graders, couldn't even play in third position, and the graduation music constantly was in third. Last minute my conducter decided to put me in first, because no one could really play the songs in tune and together. The seconds were backed up by the wind instruments. My conducter is narrow minded, she only cares about the melody. That's too bad.

Diana

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It kind of bothered me to read why you all don't like school orchestra. Yes, if you are advanced, it can get kind of boring at times, especially when the teacher is working with other students. And it can be hard to find the energy to play pieces that are easy.

But think of all the benefits of orchestra. For some people, advanced or not, orchestra is the only place where they fit in. It is an activity that they love more than anything. Think of the thousands of kids around the country who got involved in orchestra instead of worse things like drugs (I am one of those people). God has given us a gift by giving us the opportunity to play music. Even if it's boring or easy, I bet thousands of people wish they had the ability or opportunity to be in an orchestra. And just because the teacher isn't working with your section doesn't mean you can't learn. The suggestions he/she is making are probably things you will need to know in other pieces.

I am frustrated in my school orchestra because the seating arrangements are making us too competitive. Also, we don't have a very strong cello section. But still, I am so thankful for the chance to make music with close friends every day and get school credits from it.

Lots of schools are losing their music programs, especially orchestras, because people don't think orchestra is as important as other activities that need money, like sports. So be thankful for what you have.

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Ok, so I haven't been in a school orchestra for the last 10 years. But I liked it just fine. Sure, the music was easy; sure, we didn't sound all that great (we had 3 violinists, 1 viola, 1 cello, occasionally 1 bass - can you think of a more pathetic "orchestra?" We weren't good enough to be playing "real" quartet music.)

But, hey, anything to get me out of P.E.! smile.gif Just joking. There's an art to playing easy music and making it sound grand. Attitude is everything.

Victoria

[This message has been edited by lagomorphs (edited 03-15-2000).]

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It's amazing how many people despise their school orchestras. Even though mine isn't all that great, it's one of the high points of my day in school (the other high point being that i get to go to a local elementary school to help/tutor in a first grade classroom. It's fun!) The first post caught me, because I too was demoted from first chair in 7th grade and the beginning of 8th to third and second chair. I was not happy. But I got to sit by several different people, and now that the experience is behind me, I think it made me stronger. The truth is, I was the best violinist, but there were others who could play well, and they deserved the experience. They practiced, they knew their positions, and they could play all the music. And since school orchestra exists for the purpose of exposing more people to the wonderful world of music, it's okay to switch around the first chair among the top group of players so that more people get that experience. Sure it's a little embarassing when you're expecting first chair and all of a sudden you're sitting behind some one that you "know" you did better than (and boy at that point you begin to wonder about other uses for the bow tongue.gif )

Try volunteering to be section leader of the seconds if you can't stand not being first chair. I played second violin once at camp, and even though it's not in position there are some really neat harmonies that you don't even think about when you're in the firsts.

Another unique experience is sitting in the back of a section. That happened when school orchestra didn't fit into my class schedule but I still played with them during concerts. When you're near the front, you wonder why the people in the back never cut off on time, or why they don't ever seem to know what's going on. Suprisingly, sometimes in large school orchestras, they really CAN"T see or hear much, and when you're already a weak player, being surrounded by other people who are lost never helps much. I suspect that some people sitting near me played a lot better when they could hear what the song was supposed to sound like.

It's hard to be positive when you're playing simple music, but try to look at it as a good way to work on techniques (position, vibrato, articulation, bow stroke, dynamics, expression, tone,... you get the idea... i could go on for hours). And also remember that by being in the group you are helping it to sound better, even if you're not the best player there, even if you're the worst. Orchestras with only 10 people tend to sound weaker than those with 50.

Also, if you really feel like the orchestra is REALLY bad, talk to your conductor and offer to help the weaker players. The conductor will probably be shocked and happy that you offer to help, and you'll be able to gradually bring up the ability level of the group, even if it doesn't fully morph until after you move on, you'll still have the pride of knowing that you got something done instead of just sitting around complaining about it. (no offence meant!) I love school orchestra, even when it's an off year musicianship wise, because it adds a glorious hour and a half (block scheduling) of music to my life 5 days a week, 180 days a year. sure, this year we're playing real music (Mars from the planets--- the original!), but even last year when we were stuck with star wars easy cheesey arrangements, i enjoyed it. So try to stay optimistic, offer help, and never give up on the back row players. From observance I know that they try harder than anyone else, and eventually it will pay off for them and maybe they'll end up beating us all, in the style of the tortoise and the hare. smile.gif

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First off; attitude is everything. If a student walks in the door saying "this music sucks" or "I'm bored" all they're doing is showing their lack of maturity and leadership ability. The kid who is concertmaster of the HS orchestra I teach is helpful, attentive, mature, never complains, and leads the section. There are other kids who are better players than her, but they are immature, complain loudly, are pessimistic, and will not lead their section when given the opportunity. They will never be concertmaster until they start showing some maturity. I had to learn that in high school the hard way...as a freshman I played better than all the seniors, but my attitude sucked eggs, so I was initially not a section leader. Once I finally figured out that a leader is more than a good player, I was promoted to concertmaster. Go figure.

Regarding "boring music": There is no boring music, just boring people. Don't be boring! You are the musician, you give the music on the page life...if it sounds boring, it's because you're making it boring! Listen to Barber's Adagio for Strings, and then get the music. Look at the page....it's whole notes and half notes. Boring, right? Not at all...in my opinion it's one of the hardest pieces to play *well*.

Think about it...and try to challenge yourself when you play in class. Play in higher positions. Play a section all on one string. Focus on left hand technique. Help the other kids in your section who are having trouble. Show yourself to be a mature student leader, and you'll find that most directors will look upon you favorably.

That's my two cents...hope I've made sense.

John

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quote:

Originally posted by johnp:

Regarding "boring music": There is no boring music, just boring people. Don't be boring! You are the musician, you give the music on the page life...if it sounds boring, it's because you're making it boring!

Bravo, johnp! Some of the most remarkable, musically intense, emotionally charged pieces are extremely simple. Maximizing the score takes musicianship far beyond an ability to play fast and loud. Be a musician and turn the simple song into deep or at least lovely expressions.

Besides, being in any orchestra, professional, community or school requires being a team player.

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I loved school orchestra even as a Juilliard student - where else can one play a transcription of Duke Ellington jazz standards with a concert band?

The most hilarious thing to me is that we had this one girl who just HAD to be concertmistress because she couldn't make it anywhere else. She was so wrapped up in the externals of violin laurels that she neglected to practice!

I can't say that the conductors were the coolest, but they did their best.

The students tried harder than they realized.

Our high school also brought in professionals from time to time to help us. I met Yuval Waldman and Dale Stuckenbruck (two NY violinists) that way.

I also got to play several nice old beat up school violins that had a sweet mellow tone from being played on for years. Actually, ALL the violins I've played in school were like that despite being of truly inferior pedigree.

School orchestra sure beat gym, art, and a whole lot of other things.

As for school itself, that's a mixed-bag experience my memory has (and continues) to selectively forget.

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I have to say, after reading some of the other responses. I do think that overall, I do like school orchestra. It sure does beat Art! My mom would think otherwise. However, school Orchestra is one of the high points in school. It's nice to have some off time, as well as get to play some music as a group.

Not to mention that I get to meet people from the seventh grade, other classes aren't that special. Sorry if I affended anyone on this board that like school Orchestra more than others. Maybe we all have to stop dwelling on the negative. I mean, I realized that I wouldn't give up school orchestra, because of the meeting of others in your school that play instruments as well as getting out of Home Ec laugh.gif

Diana smile.gif

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It is interesting to read the various responces to playing in school groups. I never played violin in high school or college, but played the oboe, baritone, and was a singer in numerous groups. I have played the violin in pick up groups and first played in a orcherstra the Messiah this past Christmas. Enjoy the group if you are going to belong. They will be others with a better sound, instrument, greater skill, and the list goes on. Few will agree who has the best skills in many cases. Why spoil things for yourself by chooing to be unhappy. I have sung with groups that the end product was wonderful and I was the only person who could read music in 55 voice male chorus. I have sung with people whose voices could cover up an orchestra playing at forte. Enjoy or why play. There is joy in music. Have fun. Director/conductors will not all be great, but which of us are or would be if we were in charge. Even those who seem poor are usually trying. Be the great supportive member rather than a leaner or complainer either verbally or nonverbally.

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hmm, it is rather boring to be where you're better than everyone else, but then how would it feel if you were the one who was less advanced? Taking time to find a friend to help with the music is really great if the opportunity comes up. It's so rewarding to be a mentor if orchestra is easy for you. I like my school orchestra - I like the way the teacher is serious but will also be funny and 'slack off" just before a concert to help people relax. He listens to us individually every now and then - this is important becuase without teachers develop stereotypes of people's levels. Also, he picks strong section leaders usually but mixes up much of the seating, thus reducing competitiveness - but you still can be recongnized when you play the evaluations individually. We can be mixed up and we mostly know each other's levels anyway so it's no big deal. OF course it really helps if you happen to like the music... Who mentioned Messiah? When I did that they complained about the aggressive second violinist! wink.gif I just was too excited heh heh.

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Thanx for all of your input. It's nice of you.As for mentoring another student, well. I could do that, but if my conductor found out, I'd get into trouble. She'd yell me. I would be perfectly good at helping others, if i don't get caught. Then, about teachers who try to relax everyone before a concert, well, heh. My teacher turns into a monster. She yells and critisizes. Before our concerts, she'd keep us after school for hours and hours, which I wouldn't mind if she didn't humiliate us and get exasperated and mad. It's not exactly something that is easy to look upon optomistically. Especially since i could have a badly needed study hall instead of orchestra. frown.gif

I wish i could work on stuff like positions in class. But I always get in trouble for doing new postions. Then if i ask a question, she gets mad and either won't answer or treats me like I'm an idiot. I try to do things the way she tells me, but she is a cello player, and not a very skilled violinist. So she teaches thigns sometimes that I know are not correct for the violins and the violas, but we have to do them any way. Like hand postion for one.

Currently a few of our really good "misfits" of the orchestra and I have gotten together a quartet group to play a song called the David Stone Quartet for a contest that is judged in April. It was a little project of ours. We were quite proud of it too. It was sounding great! But then our conductor decided that she won't allow us to play it for the OMEA contest! She said it was too advanced for us even though it wasn't. She didn't believe we could play it becasue it was a grade A high school piece! She insulted us and told us not to play. She said she would have let some of us play it if she could have picked the players and the music! In other words, she would never have chosen me even though the other violins wouldn't be able to play it. I actually took the 2nd violin part and put it into viola/alto clef so that a really good viola could play it. We put so much work into it! Now we are going to play for contest because our parents got realy angry and talked with the conductor, but she still insults us any way she can.

That's an example of how orchestra class typically is. I try to be optmistic. I walk in everymorning and say good morning very happily and sing song like, but it isn't really working too well. I think I will try out for an audtions orchestra for the county or something, just to get away from school orchestra. Thanx for all your comments and advice.

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Another comment about school orch- we're going to Florida tomorrow. Today we got our seating. We weren't auditioned, the teacher just put us where he wanted to. He put me and my friend sixth stand out of eight. We are two of the best violists in the school. Half the people skip every day and they're only in school orch because it's an easy 100. Yet we are still in the back. I just don't like not getting credit for trying. Sure I don't have a GREAT attitude, but it's better than everyone else's!

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I have to say that my school orchestra isn't that bad at this point. Most the people in it are in Youth Symphony, anyway. Not that the pieces we play are very challenging, or rewarding, but I do try to work on things like vibrato, positions, etc. However, when backing up a harp concerto, I learned that even an orchestra as small as ours can rarely play above piano. Yuck. That was not fun. Oh, well, we got to play some jazz junk that although it was easy, our director was just convinced that we would be grateful for an introduction to jazz orchestra later. Whatever....

I have to say though that my middle school orchestra experience sucked. Sorry if this word affends anyone, but there is no other way to describe it. First of all, the director knew absolutely nothing about string instruments. He played the trumpet! One day, he came up to me all excited and said "look, when I get my fourth finger [first position] exactly in tune on the d-string the a-string rings!" I pretended to be impressed. I figure he should have known a little more about string instruments by now; he had been the orchestra director for like 30 years!

In 6th grade, I was taking all three musics (orchestra, choir, and band; i used to play the flute) so I was only in class once or twice a week. Come report card time I discovered I had received a C and a Poor effort grade. The poor effort grade meant I could not go on the class trip!!!!!!!!!!!! We went and talked to him and he changed my grade to a B, but would not change my effort grade. I suppose he could have given it to me because I never came to 'private lessons' with him. I didn't think I needed to because the other good violinist in the orchestra didn't. He never made it clear to me that I was suppossed to go. I guess I am still bitter. However, in 7th and 8th grade, I discovered the secret of sucking up. It works. By the end of middle school, he was asking me to teach sectionals, be in a quartet, and play solos.

When I hear these problems, my advice is brown-nose as much as possible. I don't mean just a little bit. and I started going to my private lessons, which turned out to be group lessons where I could miss social studies *and* talk to my friends. Where is the disadvantage?

Just my kind of long two cents!

Hope my obvious advice helped!

I hope this makes sence, my grammer and writing isn't exactly up to par, right now.

SPRING BREAK!!

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To throw in another perspective...

I had wonderful school and youth orchestra experiences as a kid. Indeed, ensemble playing is the *reason* I kept playing the violin.

In my senior year of high school, admittedly, I fought on a more or less constant basis with my stand partner. I was the concertmaster, and the better violinist; she was more popular, had sat in front of me in previous years (a "take whatever seat you want" arrangement, primarily, with yearly auditions just determining 1st vs. 2nd violins, and the principal stands, though usually "social engineering" meant that seniority heavily determined the seating), and had expected to continue to do so.

The local high school orchestra wasn't great, but we did interesting music (I would never have discovered Hanson's symphonies, or Rutter's Requiem otherwise). While yes, some people were there for the easy A, and didn't really try, there were plenty of enthusiastic players of various skill levels, and they all have the right to be there.

Some of my orchestra friends and I used to enter the chamber music part of the state music educator's association contest every year. We didn't always pick the *best* players we could potentially have, but we chose people we knew we'd enjoy rehearsing with. Awards are nice -- and we consistently did well -- but never as rewarding as the pleasure of music-making itself.

I think as a student, it's really easy to end up focusing on the competitive aspects of orchestras -- how you stack up against Player X, Y, or Z -- and lose track of the reason you really *should* be there, which is to *enjoy making music*.

If you don't enjoy the music-making aspect of a particular orchestra (which can certainly happen, if you don't like the conductor or the orchestra's not very good), it's time to do something else. Find an ensemble that you *do* like playing with.

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Sammy

I can so relate to your problem. I can't believe it, but it sounds as if we have the same Orchestra teacher! My teacher however, tries to force people into positions, instead of teaching the mechanics of it all. But anyways, she plays the cello as well and can't play the violin or viola very well. She tried to make us play a song that has a lot of spiccato. She doesn't know how to spiccato right! Not even on the cello. She has no flexibility on the wrist or on her fingers. She tries to tell everyone to make the spiccato less choppy, yet she sounds the same way!

It took me months of finger training to get the right finger and wrist motion to understand and actually use spiccato. She wants the others to learn spiccato without any ability to play spiccato, let alone teach it!

Well good luck!

Diana smile.gif

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I played cymbals in our marching band senior year of high school (couldn't find anyone with rythm) and we played Prince's 1999 at 1/4 tempo and other horrific things- and we couldn't march in a straight line. The football team was 0-9. That was the most fun I have had playing music!! I met some musicians whom I had not met before- some who were actually pretty good and feeling the way you feel Sammi. We never stopped trying and sort of bonded over the whole thing.

Actually all the lasting relationships I have from high school are from orchestra- what a diverse group we have become! It's not all about playing the right notes and who sits in what chair. It is about learning to work with others, sometimes in situations you are not super happy with. Learing that life is full of instances of favoritism and beaurocracy and seniority. Ya just have accept some of that. If you really want to move ahead, I agree with one of the above posts- be a team player, exhibit maturity and leadership and the rest will follow. That's coming from a girl who used to pop gum in class and play deliberately on the off-beats when she wasn't happy with the music selection- I promise i almost never do that any more!!

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quote:

Originally posted by violagoddess:

He put me and my friend sixth stand out of eight. We are two of the best violists in the school.

violagoddess, is there any chance that he thinks that having you behind others who aren't as good may help them play better? Just a thought.

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