Saturday, November 12, 2011

#18: Recent concerts

 Last night was my orchestral bass trombone debut.  The Gainesville Chamber Orchestra performed The Consecration of the House Overture (Beethoven), Wellington's Victory (Beethoven) and Schumann 4.  The first few rehearsals were, we'll say, "amusing."  It was interesting - I noticed that my ability to do basic things like count rests was inhibited by the fact that I had to think so much about the mechanics of my instrument (OK, 4th position for D3 is lower than the position for G4...).  I do not have the skills (yet) of an experienced bass trombonist; however, since I normally play tuba in orchestra, I sure know what I want a bass trombone to sound like (and what it sounds like when it's in tune).  It felt like being caught in between 2 bodies in a way - I knew what I wanted to hear but my muscle memory wasn't strong enough yet to match that.  I had practiced my parts of course, but I was still in a professional ensemble and I wanted to sound very good.  I think perhaps putting a lot of pressure on myself initially caused my mistakes in the first rehearsal or 2.  Being in a good section helped a lot of course.  Fitting in as the bottom of a trombone section is quite different than filling in as the bottom on tuba.  At least to me it felt different - I thought that was interesting.  In the end, the concert came out well.  Plus, it wasn't too much earlier in this blog that I wrote about how I started playing bass trombone... just earlier this year.  I think it's kind of hilarious that I can put "Substitute Bass Trombone" on my resume now, hahaha.  But really, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience.

And I know this is a little late, but TSO played a children's concert on Halloween.  I like getting to let loose and wear a costume (and see other musicians do the same).  I was Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter! :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

#17: Formal Black

This entry has been in the works for some time (at least in my head).  Any orchestra that I have done contracted work with has included a dress code for both women and men in their contract.  Men have very little wiggle room: tuxes, black socks, dress shoes.  Women, on the other hand, have general guidelines like "sleeves no shorter than elbow length" or "skirts, dresses and slacks must reach the ankle when seated."  The orchestra is assuming that the women understand that they are sitting next to men in tuxes, and that they will dress appropriately.  However, I have found that this is not the case - on a regular basis, I see way too many women dressed inappropriately for concerts.

 All of the orchestras that I currently perform with are regional, part-time orchestras.  These are the jobs that are usually on your resume before you win that full-time gig.  Because of this, many members of these orchestras are young musicians, often students, who are in the process of "learning the ropes."  Of course we learn in school that we shouldn't talk in rehearsal, we should have a pencil, we should pay attention to what other sections are doing - however, in my entire career, I have never heard anyone in authority (teacher, conductor, personnel manager, etc.) actually give any instructions on concert dress.  With everyone nowadays being so lawsuit happy, I'm not surprised - a male teacher or conductor would probably be fearful of a sexual harassment accusation if he were to tell a female student that she was dressed inappropriately.  But why, as women, are we not telling each other?  Because we're afraid of being seen as mean, rude or judgmental?  Or of being told, "You're not my mother!"?  Whatever the reason is, we all need to get over it.  We need to spread the word about dressing appropriately, because obviously, not everyone is getting the advice from their mothers anymore.

The bottom line: the way you dress to a performance is a reflection of how you feel about your work, period.  It's a reflection of how seriously you take your craft, your preparation for the performance, and your membership in the ensemble.  It doesn't matter whether you're in a school ensemble or a paid orchestra.  Wearing black jeans and a t-shirt to a performance says, "I don't care about this."

Another factor: patrons.  Patrons love to talk to musicians after concerts, and it's so important for us to appear professional to them - they're helping pay your check.  And remember, most patrons are of a more modestly dressed era.  In other words: would you be donning cleavage in front of your grandmother?

I feel that many young women are under the impression that dressing formally means dressing matronly or expensively.  This is simply not the case.  As you will see in the document below, there are loads of cute options for women of all ages.  Plus, I've bought almost every piece of formal black in my closet from Wal-Mart, Target, Ross, Marshall's, or TJ Maxx (I don't remember the last time I spent more than $20 on a pair of pants).

I present to you: The Modern Girl's Guide to Formal Black.  Click on the link below for the full scoop.