Fiona played in her first orchestra rehearsal tonight. She's been coming to rehearsals since she was an infant. At first she came because she was far too attached to me to be left without me. Then for a year or two she came because her dad was on call and he couldn't guarantee being at home to care for her. And then for the last two years she's come to rehearsals even when her dad is not on call because she loves being there -- listening to the music, being amongst people making music, enjoying the social contact, being with her siblings.
I conduct. Erin, Noah and Sophie play in the orchestra along with half a dozen other kids and a dozen or so adults, everyone from teachers and semi-competent amateurs to recent beginners. It's a great group and there are no real egos. We're just there to make music together, striving for the best performance we can manage. I made my little announcement tonight about how the orchestra was not competitive, and how I had not placed the strongest players at the front of the sections. Instead I'd striven to place younger members with watching/listening issues closer to the front and every inexperienced player with a strong experienced player.
"And so," I said, "if you have trouble counting rests, or figuring out where '4 before D' is, you'll have someone beside you who can help."
Fiona was thrilled to be playing. She's only doing the two easiest pieces, but that's a great starting point for her. She learns music easily, can sight-read a bit, and these pieces are very easy from a technical standpoint. I knew she'd be able to play the music well. What I figured she'd struggle a bit with was counting bars and rests, figuring out starting points from verbal directions and all the specifically orchestral skills.
She shares a stand with my mom / her grandma / her violin teacher. At one point about twenty minutes into the rehearsal I said "okay everyone, let's start at the pick-up before letter-F." In the shuffling as people got ready to play my mom could be heard muttering "F, F, where's letter F... ?" All of a sudden there was a small quick movement from Fiona and a tiny thwack of a sound. She had matter-of-factly pointed out letter-F for her grandma. We all started laughing. My mom quipped "well, it's a good thing I'm sitting beside an experienced player!"
Her orchestral career got off to an auspicious start.