Rehearsal Notes 8/24/2019

Junior Symphony


The four pieces we have been working on so far are Sea Songs, Tales of Vandosar, Gershwin in Concert, and Finlandia, all of which keep getting better and better at each rehearsal. We will be taking next week off in recognition of Labor Day and we will reconvene on September 7th. Rehearsal will start with sectionals so unpack in your sectional room. Come with your music prepared and with questions to ask your section coach. Difficult passages that you or maybe your group might be having trouble with should be marked so they can be brought up during this time. 


During warm-up, be sure to include the A flat major scale and any rhythms that you may be having difficulty with. 


Sea Songs

Although this piece will go relatively fast (112 bpm) it should be practiced somewhere around 80 bpm for note and rhythmic accuracy. The melody is passed along pretty quickly so it is very important that you understand when you or your section has it, who gave it, and who it will be passed off to. 

One of the challenging things about this piece, since it is still relatively new, are the repeats and the D.C. al Fine. It is very helpful to use colored pencils or perhaps a highlighter to bring out where the repeat goes back to.


Tales of Vandosar

The primary rhythm that we worked on was the transition from eighth to triplet notes within a single measure. The use of a metronome is crucial for all rhythmic exercises but especially for this one. Follow the same practice procedure that we did in rehearsal: play four beats of triplets, four beats of rest, then four beats of eighth notes; eventually remove the four beats of rest and gradually decrease the number of beats until you have one beat of eighth notes and one beat of triplets back to back, similar to how it is written in the music. (Note: this rhythmic pattern may not occur in your music but would be helpful to practice anyway.)


Any sixteenth note runs must be practiced slowly with the goal of playing each note evenly and arriving on the beat. For example, woodwinds have it at measure 23 among other places, and violin I has a sixteenth note pick up into measure 42.

Double check that you are playing all the pitches correctly and in tune, especially when you or your section has the melody or the part is in a high register. For example, the cello section needs to look at the section starting at pick up into measure 100, violin I- the section starting at 108, and flute I in the section starting with pick up to 62.



As with all pieces, be sure to listen to an entire recording of Finlandia (part of which we did in rehearsal with our new stereo system!!) The epic introduction is created by the intense dynamic changes mixed with brief periods of silence. When the piece changes tempo at Allegro Moderato (at letter D) the first eighth notes of the trumpets, trombones and bassoon introduces the rhythmic pattern that will occur all throughout the rest of the piece. If you have that or something similar in your music, practice the rhythm alone then add notes. 

Upper strings- two after letter E is a challenging part if it is not practiced in small chunks. In rehearsal, you were asked to play only the notes that fall on a beat, now at home, practicing slowly, add the notes on the beat and the “and”. So now you are playing an eighth note rhythm. Once the pitches are accurate, add the rest of the notes, then gradually increase the tempo.

Another rhythmically interesting part is the syncopated section which first appears at five after G to four measures before the repeat sign. Counting these few measures in 8 (or in eighth notes) makes it easier to understand and feel the notes change on the “and” of the beat.


George Gershwin in Concert


There are four famous melodies that are featured in this piece. The first melody is from Rhapsody in Blue, the second is from a song called “I Got Rhythm”, the third is another song called “To Watch Over Me”, and the final melody brings us back to Rhapsody in Blue. To get an idea of how these sound, listen to each one and pick out the places in your music that you have the melody. Counting out the rhythms is helpful but listening to a recording can put it all into context.



A flat major is the primary key in Finlandia. String players need to seek advice for fingerings from your private lesson teacher or your orchestra director. Here are some scale books that you may want to add to you music collection:  Scales for Young Violinists and Scales for Young Violists by Barbara Barber; Cello Scales and Arpeggios by Charles Forbes; Scales for the Double Bass by Bert Witzel. 


Enjoy your Saturday off and the three-day weekend! 


Ms. Brasher and Mr. Corbin



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