Friday, September 5, 2008

General Chamber Music Rehearsal Guidelines for not Killing Each Other

The group will spend one hour on each of the following issues.

concert tempo

use a metronome and play at half dynamic. If it gets too loud, divide into groups with similar rhythm (see below on how to divide into groups)

general ensemble

pay attention to bowings, ends of notes cutting off together, dynamics being the same, bow strokes/speeds being the same


tune chords. Break up into groups to do this (see below). There should be one person not playing at all times so they can tell if it is out of tune or not. Take turns doing this.


make sure you all have the same “story” in mind. Everyone should recognize the peaks of the phrase in the same place. Bow speed and dynamics come into play here as well. (i.e. if something is repeated 3 times in a row, do you play it the same all 3 times?)

A 5 minute break may be taken at the end of each hour.

Work may be done in various ways:

1. The whole group

2. Groups of similar lines working together ( for example, while the 2 violins are working on the intonation of something they have together, the viola and cello are looking at the score and “policing” the violins, telling them where the problems lie)

3. When you have disagreements, the easiest and fastest way to resolve them is by trying each person’s idea with the utmost conviction as a group, then deciding if the idea works or not. Trading may take place.

4. Remember: it is more constructive to say INCLUSIVE sentences starting with “I’m feeling” instead of sentences starting with “you are.” For example, “You’re rushing there” is more likely to make your colleague feel defensive and personally attacked, but “I’m feeling like we are rushing” or “we are unsteady there, can we work on this with the metronome?” makes you willing to be part of the solution, as you should well be.