The Frederick Symphony Orchestra Blog

How To Become A Better Instrumentalist From Our Musicians

Posted by Illumine8 on Feb 22, 2017 12:00:00 PM
Did your child pick up your first musical instrument this year? Is learning a new song part of your New Year's resolutions? No matter the circumstance, the musicians of the Frederick Symphony Orchestra have a few wise words of advice from years of practice and performance:
  • "Don't try to sound like someone else. Develop your own musical personality, and learn your strengths and weaknesses. Strive to improve the weaknesses."
    -Paulela Burchill, Principal Flute
  • "Sometimes, you outgrow your instrument. If you find yourself frustrated, no matter how much you practice, try a friend’s instrument. What could be holding you back might be a technicality, like the curve of your violin bridge or the balance of the bow."
    -Christina May, Violin and President of the FSO

  • "One key to listen to as much music as possible. Listen to both solo and orchestral works, and pay attention to the phrasing and tone of the music, not just the notes or technique, to help guide your own efforts."
    -Randall Severy, Principal Oboe

  • "[Trumpeters] will often be asked to transpose another key. This is a skill that takes practice, and you will most likely want to work with a teacher or mentor to get some of the fundamentals down before launching into orchestra."
    -Claudia Pearce, Trumpet

  • "Seek out opportunities to play as a part of a group or ensemble. The more often you get to play for an audience, the more you’ll naturally want to practice. It could be a special recital, or...a weekly worship service. During the holiday season, there are...opportunities in shopping malls or senior adult living centers.

    In a nutshell, the best advice for an aspiring young musician is to stay committed to playing by practicing regularly and letting other people [hear] how much you enjoy making music."
    -Matt Stegle, Trombone and Young Artist Competition coordinator

  • "Practice every day. Not every day you’re not on vacation, not every day you feel well, not every day you have time, but every day. Practice smart. Set goals for each session and practice what you should, not what’s fun. Practice without your instrument. Listening to a recording of the piece while following the music helps you learn the terrain of the piece."
    -Casey Perley, Harp

  • "Listen to all styles of music, not just...popular music. Also, practice for many short periods rather than one or two long periods a week [to retain more]."
    -Barbara Pearl, Bassoon

  • "Take private lessons as soon as you can. An experienced coach can guide your ability to progress more quickly, learn more difficult music, and demonstrate and teach...correct playing techniques, as well as correct poor techniques [that] you may not realize you have picked up."
    -Vicki Willman, Timpani

  • "Develop listening skills in addition to playing skills. Listen to recordings and live performances, and zero in on your instrument in the ensemble. Pay attention to the relationship this part has to the other instruments. Observe the nuances of the performance of that instrument, including articulation, balance with the rest of the ensemble, [and more]."
    -Curtis Martin, Principal Percussion

You can catch all of our Frederick Symphony Orchestra musicians in our next concert, Symphonic Pipes at Hood College, on March 19 at 3 p.m. Click here for tickets and seating arrangements. 

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Topics: Instruments, musicians