Finding Other Musicians To Play With - Does Anyone Else Find It Diffic
Posted 01 October 2007 - 22:49
I belong to the Devon Society of Recorder Players. What that means in practice is that I go along to their monthly meetings when I'm free and sightread one part of a piece of music. Three years ago Devon SRP set up a separate "Exeter Recorder Orchestra". It is supposed to be distinct from the main SRP in that its stated aim is to practise (not just sightread) a selection of pieces with a view to performing them. But in the event we have given only three concerts during all this time, pretty poorly attended at that. And we only meet once a month, so on the face of it it doesn't seem that different from Devon SRP. Most of the other members of Devon SRP and/or ERO play in smaller groups, some with other instrumentalists. At the very least this means meeting up in other people's houses, but some of these smaller groups have also given performances. I once spoke to someone who'd played in a group in mediaeval costume who provided background music at Buckland Abbey (a National Trust property on the other side of Dartmoor). Unfortunately groups such as this don't have auditions as such. It's more about playing with friends, or friends of friends. Indeed this person's advice to me was to make myself known, invite people back to my flat to play ensembles and maybe this just might lead to greater things. I objected, saying that my flat was far too small and untidy, and besides I only have a very limited collection of consort music. Another issue is that I hardly know the names of anyone in the SRP and/or recorder orchestra; I've probably been told any number of names but it's dificult to retain the information if I don't see the other person for another month at least. And this is after four years in Exeter. Having Asperger's syndrome (which I do) probably doesn't help either.
There's a lady at the Quaker meeting I attend who's had recorder lessons. When I once suggested that we should play together some time (emphasis on play, not perform) she was totally against the idea, saying that "You're far too good for me - you play in a group?" Eh?! This despite the fact she has never heard me play a note. There are people like that lady among my office colleagues, people who've never bothered to attend my once-in-a-blue-moon concerts and yet who still think I'm really good. Maybe I should take it as a compliment and leave it at that, but I am a tad tempted to grab them by the shoulders and say "If you think I'm so marvellous why have you never come to hear me play?"
Not all my colleagues are like that. My closest colleagues (as in my team mates, not close in any social or emotional sense) know nothing about my life as an amateur musician. Well I can only suppose they know nothing. In all the time I've worked with them (nearly 3 years) I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times they've asked me how my weekend was.
Posted 01 October 2007 - 22:57
I always say that I play recorders when asked. It can be difficult to find others to play with but keep trying and something will turn up. Why not ask the early music group if you can go along to a practice sometime? They might welcome an extra player.
Look in th the woodwind forum too. That is where some more of the recorder players hang out.
Posted 02 October 2007 - 05:34
It has to be said that most consorts who take their music seriously and are playing to a good standard are very careful about who else they invite to play. What normally happens in the consorts in which I'm involved is that someone might occasionally say they'd like to ask someone, and ask the rest of us if that is OK - they will either have played trio-sonatas or something with that person before, or else have got to know them at SRP and realised from sitting next to them that their sight-reading skills and general playing are good. There's nothing worse when going for an afternoon's consort playing than to find that someone just can't manage one-to-a-part - it ruins things for everyone and is extremely embarrassing for all concerned! This is why groups tend to be self-selected, with just the occasional new person filtering in.
I hope you find some people to play with - perhaps you could try to network more during the SRP tea-breaks?
Posted 02 October 2007 - 05:58
I've had the opposite problem as well: being considered 'too good' for more humble groups. It does seem to be the usual catch-22 situation: groups won't take someone on without experience of one-to-a-part playing, but it is almost impossible to get that experience.
The big tragedy is that promising players are put off from taking recorder playing further because of the exclusivity of existing groups. I hope that the situation changes before long for you.
Posted 02 October 2007 - 07:06
Jo's post illustrates the situation exceedingly well - the established people already have their cosy and exclusive cliques, and if you're not part of that closed shop....well, you won't get to play in those groups....so you won't get the opportunity to learn the repertoire and improve your one-to-a-part playing....so you won't be able to get into those groups.
I do hope you find people to help you break that cycle. If the distances hadn't been so great, I would have been more than happy to play with you. And if you find yourself able to come to any of the Forums events, then I'm sure we can meet up and have a tootle.
Posted 02 October 2007 - 07:46
Depending on where you are in Devon (I know it's a big place), there's also Recorders At Plymouth (who used to be an SRP branch but now aren't).
Posted 02 October 2007 - 16:32
What kept me going was having a husband who can do me some keyboard accompaniments, and a long-distance correspondence with a friend who is more adventurous than I feel able to be - she has involved me in a couple of her concerts, to my great delight and pleasure.
Posted 03 October 2007 - 16:18
What a shame! It seems a bit short sighted to assume that people will know their stuff, and thus to potentially put off someone who's talented.
Sounds like the consort world is rather clique-y. Surely everyone was once a beginner at it somewhere. A great shame if that is forgotten.
Posted 03 October 2007 - 16:31
Over the time I've worked in my current job I've found a number of fellow recorder players - each time a new person contacts us saying 'I play the recorder' we have a moment of hesitation about inviting another into the group. We only play 1 per part music but having more people means that quartets/quintets happens more often than duets/trios. Having said that, all of the people who have come in have been great and have fitted in socially with us as well as musically.
I do share the irritation with unsupportive colleagues. We had an event here recently where we did a bit of recorder playing.......none of my group came to listen to even a minute of what we were doing.
Posted 03 October 2007 - 16:53
I found a duetting partner through one of the lecturers at the university here, but felt very shy about approaching her to play (and was relieved that she seemed to be as shy as I felt!).
And I still remember when I joined you two a couple of times when I was over there. Was good fun. Don't really know any serious recorder players around here apart from the university Baroque ensemble. Havn't tried the SRP.
I'm not sure you can be excluded just for being 'too good'. Surely if you are keen enough you will play whatever is put in front of you, and move up when you have enough playing experience. Would be like advertising a job saying you must not have a degree but have not more than a few Standard Grades. At least it doesn't seem as age restricted as most things where the lower groups are generally only for school kids.
Posted 03 October 2007 - 17:03
Someone may be keen enough to play whatever is put in front of them, but it doesn't mean that others realise that, sadly.
Posted 03 October 2007 - 17:31
Neil - yes, the trios were fun, weren't they? Particularly swapping round parts until we'd all three of us played each one - and surprising how difficult it was to play the second line....I'm hoping to get that Scarlatti out again soon when I visit my friend down south - not only can she drum up another recorder player, but she even has a tame gamba player for some extra oomph in the bass .
Posted 03 October 2007 - 17:54
I'm a fairly crummy bass player, and would love to play in a group at a reasonably modest level, just so I can get some practice in on the bass without feeling I'm letting everyone else down. As i said to one of the tutors on the Early Music course, 'I can count in 4/2, or I can play bass, but not both at the same time'. Not being able to tell the difference quickly enough between semibreve and minim rests doesn't help!
Posted 03 October 2007 - 18:09
Maybe the best way forward is to find people in a similar position to you. Clearly anacrusis wasn't bothered I had never done one to a part before meeting up, because we were all in a similar position of needing some experience, already at a fair solo level. I joined the Baroque ensemble at my old uni on bassoon, but took my recorder along and jumped in once or twice. That's just an example.
CJB, oh those old attitudes are a pain in the proverbial, aren't they?
Posted 03 October 2007 - 20:01
Since I teach recorders for a living, my working days are made up - to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the pupil - of putting other people's needs before mine, being patient and nursing along those who need it. So in my limited leisure time I do prefer to play with those whom I know to be reliable and competent players.
On courses, in the 'non-permanent' groups, I am happy to play with whoever I am put with, even if I don't get much out of it musically, but I wouldn't want to do that all the time. I have known people, quite good players, be reduced to tears, having had their week/weekend's musical holiday totally ruined by being in a permanent group with someone who continually stops the group when THEY go wrong, can't keep time, doesn't try to tune etc.....