amishbandwallflower said: Hello there! I have only been playing the cello for a few years (and I am a freshman). Ironically enough as a former jazz guitarist, I have a difficult time with rhythm. Do you have any advice or pointers? Also, though I practice nearly everyday, I often feel that I will never be "good" enough since I started playing at such a late age (very early teen). My dream is to one day play in college since I love playing in my high school orchestra so much. Do you think that would even be possible?
I have terrible rhythm - I totally understand. My way of tackling rhythm has been threefold:
- practicing sightreading. This puts you on your toes with interpreting rhythm. I find pieces I enjoy listening to and perhaps don’t know too intimately, and try to figure out rhythms, working slowly through.
- pit orchestra actually improved my rhythm a lot; Tchaikovsky symphonic works in college worked similarly. I was forced to really listen to recordings before/during practice to understand how parts worked together, find cues, and count better.
- scales! I practice scales in rhythms and with varied accents, as well as any sort of running passage in my rep. For example, taking a scale and grouping it into groups of eighth notes, and accenting the first and third of each group, then the second and fourth, then the fourth, etc. This works with your feeling the motion of the beat - what you’re hearing is a displaced beat (accents tricking your ears) and you have to work against it. It’s helped me a lot with counting while playing. Another part of this is subdividing - with rhythmically difficult passages, I always try to play through quite a bit, and at varied metronome speeds, with subdivisions. This also lets you feel the beat and feel the value of notes.
I hope this helps!
As for if I think it’s possible - definitely! I mean, first off, as a general note, college orchestras can vary with difficulty, depending on the school. My university has multiple orchestras at different playing levels, and because we have a conservatory, the repertoire for the lower orchestra is rather challenging. But a lot of schools only have one orchestra, whose standards may be higher or lower. It’s something you might want to research as you apply!
If you’re practicing every day, and remaining committed, I think you can do it. Speaking from experience, I mostly didn’t study with a private teacher, and going into auditions for the orchestra was terrifying. Mostly, directors are very kind and understand that students come from diverse backgrounds (never have I heard a conversation in rehearsal about length of study!). Again, it depends on the school, but my director has been very invested in everyone’s progress and making sure they’re comfortable with the repertoire or helping if they aren’t. It’s not something to worry about too much as long as you’re passionate and enjoy the orchestra setting! (I hope I’m not egregiously wrong here, but being at a musically-inclined school, I don’t think I am?)
And as always - followers?