Another arduous hour-long rehearsal last night of the four American pieces the new orchestra workshop I joined will perform Aug. 1 at a South Austin nursing home. The young teacher/conductor is diplomatic. “If you’re not sure you’re in the right place,” she said to everyone, “play softer.” She wasn’t looking at me, but I knew who she meant.
Looking forward to LOCO’s two hours tonight which is tiring in its own way but easier all around because after two and a half years of jigs, reels and Old Time, I’m comfortable with it and am always in the right place. Even if I wasn’t, since fiddlers all play loud there’s no need to “play softer.”
My teacher encouraged me to try the orchestra stuff and we go over the pieces in advance, but he warned me what to expect, too. Faking is common in symphonies worldwide, he told me, and it’s always advisable to underplay even when you’re sure your intonation is good and you’re in the groove. And play things shorter than written so you’re not still playing when everyone else has stopped… Oops.
As for the nursing home, yeah, good works and all that. The venue is free to the teacher/conductor and comes with a built-in audience. All but one of the other players are young and will just come and go feeling they’ve done their civic duty. Me and that other older one will look around and feel a bit threatened, more determined than ever not to wind up in such a place.
UPDATE: The concert went well. No major goofs. And the nursing home was the nicest one I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t mind being “incarcerated” there, if it came to that.