Here are some questions that I have been asked over the years:
What is this experience?
If you have never played in a large ensemble, this will be quite new to you. You will have a part, and play in a section with others playing the same thing. There are generally four parts in the group for each. We work on coordinating the parts, balancing dynamics, and setting out the interpretive gestures. I conduct the rehearsals – both through talking us through the issues, as well as by actually conducting. For that reason, it is important to work on your part during the week, so when we rehearse, you can give some attention to the guy in front waving his arms (me).
How well do I have to play to be a part of the Ensemble?
We invite players of all levels to participate, with parts distributed as close to your level of development as possible. If a part is too hard, we can edit to make it more playable. Keep in mind that there are several of you on a part, so if you can’t play everything, someone else in your section can. That way it will all be covered. We want to be as inclusive as possible.
How do I audition?
The audition process is simple: tell me what pieces you are comfortable playing. It helps me to know, for example, if you are confident all over the fingerboard, or if venturing above the 5th fret gives you a sense of vertigo; I want your part to be playable for you. From that information, I can get a good idea of where to place you in the ensemble. A good rule of thumb to follow if you haven’t done this before is to expect that your part will be (usually) simpler than your solo repertoire. This allows for you to learn your part, pay your part, and still have enough focus left over to hear all that is going on around you.
How often are rehearsals?
We meet once a week, Thursday evenings from 7:30 – 9:30. We meet on the Loyola University campus, on the corner of Charles and Cold Spring lane. We begin after Labor Day (when the university is open for the fall semester).
How do get my music?
I will email pdfs to you in August; new additions will be passed around in rehearsal.
The usual – a guitar that can tuned well, footstool, etc. We have music stands at the university, but you may prefer your own.
As we meet once a week, it is important to be at as many rehearsals as possible. I realize that you have busy lives, and there may be times when you can’t make it – work or family engagements, illness, etc. It’s ok if you have to miss. If you know, however, that you will be missing a number of Thursdays, then perhaps it would be best to wait for the following season.
A sense of humor, and a willingness to enjoy and learn from your mistakes. While we take making music very seriously, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. The key to that is not fussing over your errors – learn from them, practice, and grow. We all make mistakes; the important thing is to not get too caught up in them. As stated above: if the part seems too hard, let me know. Success can only come if you are confident in what you are playing. Oh, about that humor. We laugh a lot. I tell a lot of bad jokes (well, I think they are pretty funny – but there is some difference of opinion…) and everyone is kind enough to laugh at them. We work hard, but we have a good time. We try not to fret over things too much (ok, even I wouldn’t laugh at that one).
Anything else? Contact me: