The coming of spring signals another concert season for the Walla Walla Symphony Youth Orchestra (WWSYO). The WWSYO is an audition-based group for musicians in grades 8-12 that does not require a fee for entry, providing an opportunity for students to hone their music and leadership skills at no cost. As guest conductor and percussion coach, I am excited to see how the orchestra members develop as they begin their collective journey into a new set of music.
The “Rehearse-a-thon” marks the beginning of each WWSYO season, and also represents one of the most logistically challenging days of the year for the orchestra managers. Every player receives their music upon arrival, and for the next four hours, they dive into the new challenges that the repertoire presents. The preparations for this event might seem menial at first glance; placing name tags on folders and taping pages of music are not highly specialized tasks. However, I have learned that these small actions streamline the rehearsal process immensely and ensure that everyone is able to spend more time playing the music.
Part of my preparations for the Rehearse-a-thon and subsequent WWYSO rehearsals includes creating a detailed conducting plan. Each time I step onto the podium, I need to maximize the amount of time that I have for a given piece. Creating a step-by-step “script” for my portion of the rehearsal helps ensure that I go over certain portions of the music that need attention while allowing enough time to run through smaller trouble spots. Of course, I cannot spend too much time nitpicking, as the musicians also must understand the overall continuity of the piece. Writing a script for conducting requires an awareness of this balance, and I am steadily gaining more experience in this area with each passing rehearsal.
Ultimately, my goals for the spring concert season are similar to those of the fall. I hope to build upon the success of our fall concert and help the musicians fine-tune the techniques they learned over the past few months. Additionally, I hope to create a positive learning environment that makes the music more fun for the students, especially the seniors who are leaving at the end of the season.
Experiences like Nathan’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff