Rehearsing Full Orchestras with Confidence

Rehearsing Full Orchestras with Confidence

While attending the American String Teachers Association National Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a clinic was presented over having Full Orchestras at the middle and high school level. Knowing that this is a conversation had among both administration and teachers alike, sharing key points from the presentation seemed beneficial to all who are interested. Dr. Laurie C. Williams, UTSA Department of Music, lead the session with a number of great points for new teachers, for experienced teachers who have already been teaching Full Orchestra, and teachers who are interested in beginning a Full Orchestra program. Below are remarks that really stood out.

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“Rehearsing Full Orchestras with Confidence”

Why have a Full Orchestra?

  1. Access to quality literature

Opportunities for wind/percussion students to gain ensemble skills

Boosters performer confidence

Unique experience that often does not occur outside of collegiate musical experience

  1. Visibility of the Arts

Represents two fine arts classes with one ensemble

Social aspect for students

Collaborative opportunities

Professional Development of faculty growth

Increased quality time on instruments for all involved

3. Background Necessary and Planning Included

Carefully consider schedule

Plan time to rehearse winds/percussion separate from the strings

Assistance is helpful

Program rep that is both accessible and exciting

4. Scores

Must know them!

Translations of instrument names are important to notate

Check parts BEFORE giving them out to students

Conducting a band is different than conducting an orchestra—know what each need

5. Instruments

“If you wait until your orchestration is perfect, you’ll never do full orchestra”

Register is key in voicing and intonation

Placement in rehearsal and performance is important for overall sound


Substitutions- remain as close to the timbre called for in the score

6. Programming and the Community

Variety is good

Be specific with wants and needs

Observe rehearsals from other groups or community orchestras

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