After what level Suzuki book would it be possible to join a community orchestra?

David Ford said: Aug 17, 2018
 6 posts

This is looking way ahead, but, at what level of Suzuki book could I anticipate feasibly auditioning for a community orchestra. And I’m aware that different orchestras can have different standards and needs.

I am an adult. Just looking for some motivation.

Thanks.

David

Laura McDermott said: Aug 18, 2018
Laura McDermott
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Aurora, CO
14 posts

You don’t say what instrument you are talking about. If violin, I would say book 5 for the second violin section. You would have fluency in 3rd position and some exposure to 2nd and 4 position. In book 5 you would get some 5 position as well. By book 5 you would have vibrato, be fluent in note reading, a decent understanding of rhythm, know some different bow strokes. Viola, cello or bass you could probably audition sooner. Flute would be later, probably much, much later as those spots are much more competitive.

Laura McDermott

David Ford said: Aug 18, 2018
 6 posts

Violin. Thanks for your response.

Grace Wong said: Aug 18, 2018
Grace Wong
Suzuki Association Member
Harp
Rochester, NY
1 posts

In my area of Rochester, New York, we have “New Horizons” orchestras and ensembles for people just like you. The New Horizons movement is growing throughout the country, and you might investigate if there is one near you. Your neighborhood music school(s) may also have chamber or larger ensembles for adult learners. Good luck, and you may be playing with your compatriots sooner than you think!

Grace Wong

Mengwei Shen said: Aug 18, 2018
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
165 posts

It’s really going to depend on the orchestra. What are your teacher’s thoughts and does s/he maybe know about the suitable groups in your area? Unless there are many string players vying for the seats (in the two that I play in, this is not the case!), you’d likely have no more “audition” than “meet the conductor and/or concertmaster and play something”.

  1. Community orchestra with mostly non professional (not making their living through music) players with a few paid principal positions (professionals): I have recommended friends/acquaintances and it’s so casual that they are accepted without question.

  2. College orchestra that accepts (needs!) community players: conductor wanted to recruit some of my students (children) and said they just need to be comfortable with 5th position.

5th position is solidly a book 5 skill although there are teasers in book 4 and I’ve had to help my book 4 students with 5th position for their youth orchestra pieces anyway. A young Suzuki child, who may have played for several years before beginning reading, could be playing book 4 or 5 but not be reading at that level, and it’s better to be in an orchestra that plays easier pieces.

For an adult who is playing and reading book 4, first let me define the terms:
Book 4: Vivaldi at least
Playing: sounds good and feels easy (not painstakingly picking through with stops/starts/errors)
Reading: an adult, who has been reading all along, likely does not have such a disparity between playing and reading level

Still, if someone plays only Suzuki pieces, I don’t think book 4 or 5 is enough time or breadth to develop the musical and technical vocabulary to comfortably handle “5th position” type of orchestra music. It’s different if you have lots more playing experience, whether it’s by more Suzuki pieces (”higher book level”) or more scales/etudes/pieces outside Suzuki. In any case, “Suzuki level” ceases to be relevant because it comes down to whether or not you can handle the material.

The two orchestras I mentioned play standard orchestra fare including (but not limited to) major symphonies and concertos. On the other hand, my studio group is full of book 1-2 students plus the aforementioned intermediate students. We have a typical Suzuki group setup and a string orchestra setup where we play the types of pieces that might be done in an elementary or middle school program (or arrangements that I write for their level). I don’t know if it would be fun for an adult to join a group like that, but in some areas you can also find “late starter” groups of adults where they haven’t all been playing since they were little.

Mengwei Shen said: Aug 18, 2018
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
165 posts

There is a particular summer institute where I observe often and this year they had some adult classes, at least a violin master class and chamber cello group. I also saw adult cellists playing with some of the student groups and my guess is they would have been book 2-3 level. I just thought it was cool that despite Suzuki being commonly (erroneously) thought of as “for children only”, this institute was able to meet the interest of adults.

David Ford said: Aug 18, 2018
 6 posts

I”m just part way through Suzuki 1 at the moment. I’m just needing to “shoot for something”. My reading skills are very slightly better than what I would have learned by this for in the Suzuki book (took some piano last year). So, I’ve got a ways to go. I just didn’t know what skills are needed for 2nd violin, and how that dovetails into the book.

Thank you everyone for your input.

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