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How to Be an Opera Orchestra String Player

How to Be an Opera Orchestra String Player

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Published by Katherine Shields
A humorous behind-the-scenes look at the life of a professional opera orchestra musician as she carefully balances her briefcase, instrument, coffee mug and several pre-school children.
A humorous behind-the-scenes look at the life of a professional opera orchestra musician as she carefully balances her briefcase, instrument, coffee mug and several pre-school children.

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Published by: Katherine Shields on Sep 24, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/05/2013

 
How to be an opera orchestra string playerBy Katherine Shields
Start playing at an early age, say ten at the latest.
Spend a few bucks, maybe 10-40,000, on an instrument.
The bow will be $2,000 and up; you'll need several of those.
Get several university degrees in music performance.
Along the way, get lots of experience: playing chamber music, symphony,summer festivals, musicals and sundry gigs (don't forget those "Singing ChristmasTrees")Then- take the opera orchestra audition. We’ll fast forward over the details.Congratulations on winning the job with the opera orchestra! Here’s your schedule onrehearsal day:At 4:30 PM, after a full day doing whatever you do (chasing children around, feedingdogs, grocery shopping, shot putting, caber tossing) you need to pack up your instrument,a sack dinner and a cup of java. Drop everything (not the java) to get in the car for a hair-raising drive out-of-town. Try not to spill the java on yourself on the trip; workers compwill not cover burns until the rehearsal begins.Once you’ve arrived, jockey for a parking spot. Get out of the car, grab your bags, sprintfor the hall, snarf the dinner, and get yourself and your instrument into the pit. Don't tripover the light cords or the woodwind players. If they're already seated, you'll need to beairlifted to your chair as there's no access. If you trip and take a couple of flutists downwith you, don't worry - they'll get workers comp.Arrange your music on the stand. As the light bulbs are not bright enough to illuminatetwo pages of music, you'll have to slide the music back/forth across the stand dependingon which page you need to see. If you remembered to wear your spelunker’s headlamp,disregard the previous instruction and give yourself a big pat on the back. And don’tworry if you can’t see the conductor from where you’re sitting-you can watch him on the bulky TV monitor that’s suspended over the pit; the thing that shakes when the audienceapplauds.You’ll need three things in the pit to survive this opera: water, sugar and your choice of caffeine or chocolate. Set out your water bottle and the Altoids in front of your musicstand. Statistics have shown that you’ll need one Altoid for every 5 pages of Puccini; onefor every 3 pages of Verdi, and 3 Altoids for each page of Strauss. If for some reasonyou’re not sufficiently caffeinated, this is a good time to mooch some chocolates from thecellists. You’ll need it by the third act.Orient your chair and stand so you don't stab your stand partner OR smash your bow intothe wall. (This is where those “fake bows” -made of proprietary blends of Kevlar,fiberglass, strapping tape, and conch shells-come in handy.) Try to hold your instrument

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