When I started this post, I was in Seattle, WA with the Skylark Horn Quartet playing concerts and premiering new works. In addition to rehearsing and performing a bunch, we had a ton of fun. And the reason we are able to enjoy our down time during a busy week is how prepared we were heading into our first rehearsal.
One of the pieces we premiered with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra was Rowemance for string orchestra, percussion, and four horns. This piece, composed by Will Rowe, was very challenging for us and the orchestra, but thanks to a lot of work individually and as a quartet, the first rehearsal went very smoothly. On the way back to our cozy AirBnB we all remarked how relaxing and enjoyable the rehearsal was.
This got me thinking… How much of an impact does the result of the first rehearsal have on the rest of the rehearsals, and more importantly, the concert? Each performance is a culmination of the work in practice and rehearsal, so wouldn’t it make sense that a positive rehearsing experience would contribute to a positive performing experience? The quartet pondered this throughout the week and this calm feeling of confidence persisted, resulting in two great concerts. We never felt pressure or concern over how things would go, because everything was going smoothly from the very first meeting. We were able to relax and enjoy the experience so much more, knowing that we were completely prepared and ready to go.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the overall feeling and the resulting success of a rehearsal, many of which we have no control over. We cannot control the preparation levels of our colleagues, nor can we control the attitude and style of the conductor (if there is one). We can, however, control our own preparation level and the mental state we choose to carry with us into rehearsal.
We have all looked at a folder of music for an upcoming gig, and thought, “I’m sure I’ll be fine for the first rehearsal with just a quick look a few minutes before the downbeat.” While we can sometimes get away with this, this approach adds unnecessary pressure and tension that can remain through subsequent rehearsals, and ultimately the concert. By preparing for the first rehearsal like it was a performance, we can relax and enjoy the rehearsal process in the days/weeks leading up to the actual performance.
So, while preparing for your next “first rehearsal,” plan as if it that were the concert. Make every note you play in that rehearsal a performance. Bring everything you have to those few hours, and afterward reflect on how things went. How did you play individually? Was this rehearsal more enjoyable, or did it feel more stressful? What was your preparation like before this rehearsal that differed from your normal lead-up to the first rehearsal? Also, take note of how the other rehearsals and the concert goes. I am willing to bet things are very different!
WELCOME TO THE BALANCING ACT BLOG
I will be sharing new ideas and great information on lots of different topics every week. If you like the content, click the button below to find out more about this project and sign up to receive new weekly releases. You can click the link below
Please leave comments below if you would like to contribute to our conversation.