How to Move Up To a Higher Musical Ensemble (or earn a higher chair)
Most music programs are divided into multiple performing groups based on skill. There’s nothing wrong with being in the bottom ensemble (trust me, I’ve been there), moving up to a higher ensemble can be a great motivator. I can’t guarantee that if you follow these steps, that you’ll get a higher chair, but you will become a better musician.
- Remember: everything you do is an audition
- You wanna show your directors that you’re dedicated to the program
- Practice in the band/orchestra/choir room. This can be scary but it’s an easy way to be a leader and a good role model to other members. Not to mention, your directors will probably overhear and be impressed that you’re working hard.
- Speaking of the directors, ask them questions, go to them for help, show them that you’re interested in being better
- Always raise your hand in class, even if you don’t know the answer. Just guess.
- Volunteer as much as you can. Again, it shows you’re dedicated.
- Audition for other things! Extra things like jazz band/choir, musicals, etc. not only make you a better player, but it’ll make your directors take notice.
- SHOW UP ON TIME! ALWAYS HAVE YOUR SUPPLIES! This is so easy, if you don’t do it, you’re screwing yourself over.
- Help others with their music. Directors want people in their top ensembles to be leaders.
2. Learn everything you can about the ensemble.
- Talk to the people in that ensemble. What skills do they think are required to participate? What do they recommend you practice? What do they think it’s like?
- Talk to your director. They can probably give you a clear picture on what it takes to move up.
- Go to your goal ensembles’ rehearsals and take notes a few times. Just observing can really give you a feel for the level of musicianship present.
- Find out what music the ensemble is playing. Obtain a copy if you can. If you can read it down the page, great! If not, what do you need to work on? Rhythms? Key signature? Start there.
3. Work like a machine.
- Practice consistently. Practicing six days a week is a realistic yet challenging goal. Even if you’re super busy, practicing for fifteen minutes is better than nothing.
- Perfect your scales!!! I cannot stress the importance of this. Maybe not so much for vocalists (honestly I don’t know what y’all do lol), but for instrumentalists, it is absolutely CRUCIAL and part of your audition.
- Learn the music in your current ensemble like the back of your hand. This goes along with the first part. If the directors know your responsible, and know that they won’t have to practice the music for you, they’ll be more likely to trust you with difficult music.
- Start learning the audition music if you have it, if not start working on etudes. You should not only be practicing your ensemble music. Especially if you play something like tuba lmao. It’s probably not challenging enough for your and you need to expand your abilities
- Take lessons if possible!! Nothing helps you advance faster than private instruction