Why I Started An Orchestra & Choir
Updated: Jan 8
As a kid I used to pretend to conduct the orchestra whenever I listened to music. It didn’t matter what the genre was, I’d be there on my imaginary podium waving my arms around (in time) and bringing the various instruments or doing arm movements for accents. None of my imaginary orchestra were sitting in the “right” place, and none of my conducting was correct, but it was in time. As I got older my love and passion for music grew deeper and deeper. My appreciation for conducting developed too and over time it improved.
If you’ve read the story on this website you’ll know that starting SSOCs fulfilled a near 30 year dream, so I’m not going to rehash that story. However, in all that time leading up to starting Stand Sure Orchestra & Choir I used to play (and sing) for various groups. On the whole this was an enjoyable experience however, most of the time (if not all the time) they would have only the instruments they needed for the concert. This meant that many people would miss out. They also had a grade restriction (some of them wanted a minimum of grade 8 players other grade 7). This meant that there were lots of people out there who wanted to play with an orchestra but wouldn’t get the opportunity until they got the required grade.
Whilst I fully appreciate why orchestra’s do this I feel that it is a shame that there’s not much to give people the experience they want to get. This encouraged me to have an all inclusive policy. I wouldn’t restrict the number of singers I used and I wouldn’t restrict the number of instruments I have. If I had several flutes coming to join us I would use them all. I stipulate to be around grade 5, but it’s not compulsory. In fact a few members around grade 3 or 4 wanted to join us and so they were welcomed with open arms and I wrote parts specifically for them. The music was well within the grasp but gave enough of a challenge to make it worthwhile and rewarding for them. With the singers I just wanted people who wanted to sing in a group to join us, regardless of experience.
Playing With Others
Some of my happiest college memories were when I was playing with other people. I struggled making friends but at least by playing I could be kind of interacting with others while remaining in my safe bubble. Making music on your own is great of course, but sharing the experience with other players is almost unbeatable…especially sharing any applause you may get. When you’re with a group of people sometimes what you’re doing can seem boring or tedious - especially if you’re an alto! However, if you can step back from what you’re doing and look at the bigger picture it can suddenly feel amazing. Think of it like part of a clock. On its own a cog is pretty insignificant and perhaps not that interesting to look at. But as part of a larger thing it’s a very important thing. Without it the clock simply won’t function fully.
This was another reason why I was keen to start my own orchestra. I wanted to give anyone who wanted it, the opportunity to make music with other people. Working towards a concert or two each term. Making new friends and reuniting with people with whom you’d lost contact. I wanted to give people the chance to shine. I don’t rank my players, the number is simply an identification. Everyone gets a leading moment (if they want it). But it’s not about the individual, though they are of course vital. It’s about working as a unit to produce something amazing…together.
This is rather a short blog, I know…but I hope it’s impactful. You can do anything you want in music (and in life), and as long as it’s for the right reasons and not to feed the ego that can only be a good thing.