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Preparing for the First Rehearsal 

Here are a few suggestions on how to prepare before you get to the first rehearsal. For those going to the summer workshop, this is your current challenge, but we all find ourselves frequently at this stage.
  1. Particularly for unfamiliar works, listening to a recording of your piece for example on YouTube with your part in hand is probably the most useful action you can take. Conducting while you listen is a great way to follow along. You may find this impossible on occasion, especially when the music is sustained and the camera is not on the conductor but just jump back in when you can.
  2. After listening to your piece, the next obvious step is to practice. Generally speaking, slow practice makes faster progress.
When you are practicing remember to simplify harder passages. Some ways to do this are:
  1. Practice slowly
  2. Air bow
  3. Ignore the rhythm and bowings, playing each pitch as a quarter note (Note by note)
  4. Semi-memorize a passage
  5. Tongue difficult rhythms (also try conducting while tonguing)
  6. Finger-tap fast passages on side of cello
You can find a more detailed description of these techniques in the November 2017 NOTES article.
For those going to the Ensemble Workshop, if you find a passage that is significantly beyond your experience level, don’t spend time on it or worry about it. Move on and spend your limited practice time on passages you can manage with a more reasonable amount of work. The goal is to contribute to the sonority of your cello section whenever possible, but on occasions when the difficulty is well beyond your experience level, track the music and jump back in when you can. This approach can work for other musical groups as well.

Take your parts to your home teachers if you are studying privately. They can guide you helping to make your preparations more efficient.

In summary, there are many ways to prepare your music before the first rehearsal.  Above are a few ways you might find useful. When you arrive at the first rehearsal there will be much more to learn and more practicing required but preparing to the level that you can before the first rehearsal will enhance your experience and help you and your ensemble achieve a more rewarding performance.

Happy preparing!
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