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MAKING REHEARSAL NOTES (for independent youth/student orchestra)

Rehearsal is the most important process towards your performances, concerts or shows. An orchestra, a string quartet, a rock band or choirs are a whole team like as important as it is in a football team. We need strategies to overcome technical problems and most important, to connect the unity of the whole people involved. But, rehearsal without noticing what to build and what have been developed is also a useless time to waste. Hence, we need to plan and evaluate what we will build and what we had after the long hours of exhausting and boring rehearsals.

I would like to share what I did for rehearsals of a youth orchestra. Besides of making footage of every rehearsals weekly (for more than 90 weeks since 2014), I also made rehearsal notes every after rehearsal done. In this note I wrote down what the orchestra achieved at that moment and what needs to be built next week.

Below are two examples of the notes. Managing and building independent activity is very challenging. But if we are clear with our goals to develop even smaller units each day, slowly we could arrive to where we want. Good luck!


Rehearsal Notes – Bach Double Concerto

October 16th, 2015

The rehearsal started with a warm up of long tone open D string approximately 15 minutes non-stop. Some members seems exhausted with this warm ups, looks like they never had a warm ups. We continue the rehearsal with Bach Double Concerto, 1st movement with slow tempo. The goal is to practice intonation correctly as an ensemble.

Few points we practiced such as finding the character of baroque music playing, especially polyphony music by Bach. The bow that we use are modern bows. In baroque period, the bow is not as thick and as long as modern bows. From this, the character of sound produced by the string instruments in baroque period is likely to be short in duration and light. This texture of thin and light are what we were looking for during this rehearsal.

We were practicing the duration and long/short of the bow in some figures for instance on the tie notes and how to cut it during the coming of the next note. Playing without vibrato also one of the point in this rehearsal. Why? Besides, practicing intonation, vibrato in baroque period wasn’t as thick and as wide as in romantic or modern era. Yes, vibrato expresses emotion, but in baroque era it’s not

necessary to express emotion through vibrato. They expressed it in another form like tonality, tempo and dynamics.

This ensemble/orchestra if consistently practiced/rehearsed this way, we sure that it will be the best orchestra (musically) Indonesia have in history, and it may prepared to be on stage of South East Asia.

Rehearsal Notes - Beethoven Symphony No. 7 & Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2

Oct 22nd, 2015

Today’s rehearsal attended by only 7 members (2 1st violin, 2 2nd violin, 2 cello and 1 double bass) and additioned by Amanda in 2nd violin. We should’ve rehearsed Vivaldi Concerto for 2 Trumpets and Bach Double Concerto. But, there’re no soloists attended so finally we rehearsed Beethoven Symphony No.7, 1st movement and sight reading of Haydn Cello Concerto No.2.

Problems that the ensemble faced are main rhythmical play in the Vivace part of this movement. We practiced this motif in a very slow tempo. The execution of bowing in string instruments especially in violin sections which is difficult, we trained from a slow tempo with accuracy. If we made mistakes, we stopped and made repition from the bar before to the mistaken bar. This is a good treatment in practicing. So far, students here never been teach how to practice well. Slow, fix the mistakes slowly and make repition until approaching a tempo.

Also in the context of learning/practicing new score, we need to let out the worst sound as ugly as we can and as wrong as we can. From this ugliness and wrongness, we can fix it or make a sculpture out of it until it became good. Most of

us are afraid to make mistakes until it doesn’t make out any improvement and we can’t see the true potential. Afraid of mistakes, afraid of bad intonation, afraid played the wrong rhythm. It’s not a problem! Process and learning must have mistakes and failure! That’s why we need to practice!

1st violin section are the main actor in this symphony, but we still doesn’t play this role very well. We tried to practiced standing. Why? Because when we sit, we never use diaphragm like wind players or singers. We play so “relax” while sitting. With standing up, the weight of the body will be focused on their feet and on the ground directly. With this tension, we play like singing, using diaphragm to exagerate sound. The result, sound produced much more sonor and their role as the main actor are more dominant.

2nd violin in general played the role as harmony background in the string section. Lot of 16th notes played. The problem we faced is grouping those many notes because we still count each one note in every bar not every groups. We tried to grouped the notes with pronouncing ti-ka-ti-ka-ti-ka (rather than one-two- three-four-five-six) or do-la-pi-ko-la (rather than one-two-three-four-five). Result, improvements!

Cello and double bass doesn’t have significant problems technically, only we need more practice as an ensemble to make the same character, accuracy rhythm

and intonation. In some parts for double bass, we need to investigate more on the choice of fingering. For instance, in the development section of this symphony, there’s an arpeggio downwards of E majot and F# minor. This symphony started to give “heavier” duty for low section by playing roles that not only “bass-ing”. Arpeggios with far intervals, main melody, imitations from high section melody, etc.

Orchestra players, mostly in Indonesia only play notes, seldomly they play and think the music structurally, harmoniosly or as an orchestration. If some of the olds said “orchestra players are workers”, maybe this is what they meant. It’s not the false of the students because they have been manufactured this way from beginning. We never been taught about art-making from the smallest/detail things. Not to blame the teachers as well, because maybe they also too lazy to learn. In this rehearsal today, we tried to learn to feel each chord progression in every bar. With this imagination/sense of harmony, naturally the music will be much more clear because it came from each players mind and heart. This kind of learning experience is what IYSO approaching not only play (as we like), concert, media social update then finish. Music is so strong, even from the tiniest atom made.

Catatan Latihan – Bach Double Concerto

16 Oktober 2015

Latihan dimulai dengan nada panjang D open string selama lebih kurang 15 menit tanpa berhenti. Beberapa anggota terlihat kelelahan di nada panjang ini, sepertinya tidak pernah melakukan pemanasan. Kami melanjutkan sesi latihan dengan Bach Double Concerto bagian pertama dengan tempo yang sangat lambat. Targetnya adalah untuk melatih intonasi yang tepat secara ansambel.

Beberapa poin yang dilatih adalah mencari karakter permainan musik barok, kususnya musik polifoni dari Bach. Bow yang digunakan oleh kami adalah bow modern. Sedangkan pada jamannya, bow barok tidak setebal dan sepanjang bow modern. Dari jenis bow ini, karakter bunyi yang dihasilkan oleh instrumen gesek pada waktu itu cenderung lebih pendek secara durasi membunyikannya atau dengan bahasa lain – ringan. Tekstur ringan dan tipis ini yang kami cari di sesi latihan repertoire ini.

Durasi dan panjang pendek bow di beberapa figur seperti bagaimana memainkan tie notes kemudian memutuskannya ketika sampai pada note selanjutnya. Bermain tanpa vibrato juga menjadi salah satu poin di latihan ini. Mengapa tanpa vibrato? Selain melatih intonasi, vibrato pada instrumen gesek jaman barok dimainkan secara tipis tidak seperti vibrato pada jaman romantik atau modern. Memang vibrato mengisyaratkan ekspresi emosi, namun ekspresi pada jaman barok dibahasakan dengan bentuk lain seperti tonalitas, tempo dan dinamika.

Ansambel/orkestra ini jika konsisten berlatih seperti ini kami yakin akan jadi orkestra terbaik (musikal) yang Indonesia miliki satu saat nanti dan siap bersaing di seluruh Asia Tenggara.

Catatan Latihan - Beethoven Symphony No. 7 & Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2

22 Oktober 2015

Latihan hari ini dihadiri hanya 7 orang (2 biolin 1, 2 biolin 2, 2 cello dan 1 kontrabas) anggota inti dan ditambah Amanda di biolin 2. Repertoire yang kami bahas seharusnya Vivaldi Concerto for 2 Trumpets dan Bach Double Concerto. Namun, karena soloists tidak hadir, akhirnya kami ganti ke Beethoven Symphony No.7, 1st movement dan sight read Haydn Cello Concerto No. 2.

Persoalan yang ansambel latih adalah permainan ritmis yang ada di Vivace bagian pertama simfoni. Motif utama yang ada di simfoni ini, kami latih secara perlahan-perlahan. Persoalan eksekusi bowing di instrumen gesek terutama di biolin yang sukar kami latih dari tempo yang sangat perlahan dan akurat. Jika ada kesalahan, kami berhenti dan membuat repitisi dari birama sebelumnya ke birama kesalahan tersebut. Ini merupakan treatment latihan yang baik. Selama ini, mahasiswa/siswa tidak pernah diajarkan tentang cara berlatih yang baik dan benar. Perlahan, memperbaiki kesalahan dengan tempo perlahan, repitisi sampai menuju a tempo.

Juga di dalam konteks belajar/latihan repertoire baru, kita perlu mengeluarkan suara sejelek-jeleknya suara yang kita bisa hasilkan dan sesalah-salahnya. Dari kejelekan dan kesalahan ini, baru bisa kita ukir dan bentuk menjadi benar. Banyak di antara kita takut salah sehingga tidak keluar potensi aslinya. Takut salah, takut fales, takut ritmis nya tidak sama. Tidak apa-apa! Namanya proses dan belajar ya harus salah! Maka dari itu butuh latihan!

Biolin 1 sebagai aktor utama di simfoni ini masih belum memainkan perannya dengan baik. Kami mencoba latihan berdiri untuk biolin 1. Mengapa? Karena kita bermain duduk tidak pernah bermain dengan diafragma seperti pemain tiup atau penyanyi. Masih terlalu santai. Maka, kami mencoba memainkan dengan berdiri. Dengan berdiri, berat badan mereka terfokus pada kaki yang menginjak lantai. Berbeda dengan duduk yang posisinya santai dan berat nya dipasrahin di bokong. Hasilnya, suara yang lebih sonor dan peran aktor utama yang lebih dominan.

Biolin 2 secara garis besar memainkan peran sebagai latar belakang harmoni di kelompok gesek. Banyak deretan nada se-16-an yang dimainkan. Kesulitan yang dialami adalah mengelompokkan grouping karena kami masih menghitung setiap satu nada di setiap bar, bukan per grouping. Kami coba mengelompokkan grouping nada dengan menyebut ti-ka-ti-ka-ti-ka (ketimbang one-two-three-four-five-six) atau do-la-pi-ko- la (ketimbang one-two-three-four-five). Alhasil, ada perkembangan!

Cello dan double bass tidak mempunyai masalah secara teknis, hanya saja perlu latihan secara ansambel untuk menyamakan karakter, ketepatan ritmis dan intonasi. Di beberapa tempat untuk double bass, perlu menginvestigasi pemilihan posisi penjarian yang paling nyaman seperti di bagian development yang ada arpeggio turun E mayor dan F# minor. Simfoni ini sudah mulai “memberatkan” low section dengan tugas- tugas yang tidak hanya ngebass. Sudah mulai diberi permainan arpeggio dengan interval yang jauh sebagai melodi utama dan permainan imitasi melodi.

Pemain orkestra, kebanyakan di Indonesia bermain hanya nada, jarang yang memainkan dan memikirkan musiknya secara struktur, harmoni maupun orkestrasi. Jika beberapa tetua katakan “pemain orkes itu tukang” mungkin yang dimaksud adalah ini. Bukan salah mahasiswa/siswa mereka jadi seperti sedia kala karena kita sudah dicetak seperti itu dari dasarnya. Tidak pernah diajarkan tentang berkesenian dari hal yang paling kecil/detail. Bukan juga salahnya para pengajar, karena mungkin mereka juga terlalu malas untuk belajar. Di latihan kali ini, kami coba belajar merasakan setiap akord yang berjalan sepanjang karya. Dengan adanya imajinasi/rasa keharmonian ini, secara natural musiknya akan terbentuk lebih jelas karena ia berangkat dari masing-masing pikiran dan hati pemain orkestra. Pembelajaran seperti ini yang IYSO coba dekati bukan asal bunyi, konser, update sosmed dan bubar. Musik sangat kuat, bahkan dari atom yang terkecil.

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