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I just survived my first concert of the semester, and thought it to be fitting to make one of these posts. Orchestra plays such a large part in my life, and so why not sum up a bunch of lessons I learned?

  1. Teamwork — Obviously one of the most important things in an orchestra is the ability to work as a team. Especially at Cornell, where in our concerts, we play at least one piece without conductor, which requires extra watching, listening, and cooperation. The best part about this “teamwork” though, is that even if you don’t know the people in orchestra well outside of orchestra, you feel a really strong sense of camaraderie as you play through a piece together.
  2. Time Management — Being a Cornell student means that I almost always have something going on. Whether it’s studying for my next prelim, planning the next gbody with the Taiwanese Society Eboard, or working at my on-campus job, my schedule is pretty packed. Still, I have to find time to make it to rehearsals and practice on my own time.
  3. Changing in tight spaces — If there’s one thing playing in orchestra taught me, it’s changing in tight spaces. It means changing out of my normal everyday attire–hoddie, jeans, and tennis shoes–into concert “glam” (jk it’s just concert black with red accent), oftentimes in a bathroom stall or in a crowded dressing room. Slipping on my black dress, tights, and shoes and taking care that none of my clothes touch the bathroom floor can be quite a challenge–but thankfully I’ve gotten very, very good at it within the last year.
  4. “Making do” — Though we do it less improvisation in the music itself, being in an orchestra often means we have to adapt to certain situations. No chairs? We’ll stand and play. No stands? We’ll bring them. Popped string mid-concert? We’ll shift. Crappy page turns? We’ll tape a few pages together. What I’m getting at is, we make do with what we’re given.
  5. Dedication — As one of my previous conductor said, “sickness is for the weak. there is no good reason to miss rehearsal.” While in certain circumstances it is acceptable to miss rehearsal, rehearsal is pretty important and I actually hate missing them–you never know what bowings you’re going to miss or what different things your conductor wants in a particular section. Basically, just show up. Oh, and practice.
  6. Viola Jokes — Violins love them, and violas secretly love them too (I think?? At least I do). They’re actually pretty great, and I can tell a dozen to you just off the top of my head. At this point, I feel like there isn’t one that I don’t know the punchline to…
  7. Counting like crazy — I feel like at this point I can count to four in a million different speeds and like five different ways (with and, 1e+a, tri-pl-et tri-pl-et tri-pl-et… the list goes on). Especially in pieces where I have really odd entrances, counting like crazy is a skill that I’ve gotten a lot better at in the past year or so.
  8. The love of music — at the end of the day, making music with a bunch of other people who also love music is a LOT more fun than making music by yourself in a practice room. Playing in an orchestra has reconnected me to loving classical music, and has exposed me to new pieces and different ways of thinking about them as I work with other musicians. Perhaps for this reason alone–rekindling my love for music–all the commitment that comes with orchestra is worth it.