When MDing, if a section has an excerpt of the music that is quite difficult and may require 10-15 minutes of work in order to build understanding of that section, what should the Music Director do so that other sections don't lose interest in the rehearsal and miss out on valuable practice time?

  • 2
    Ask those musos to come early next time, or stay after the others this time? Or let the others go early.
    – Tim
    Sep 8 '19 at 20:06
  • A thought that occurs to me is that there is probably always refining that could be pursued by a section for whom a particular excerpt is already attained.
    – MikeiLL
    Sep 8 '19 at 22:09
  • 1
    Recently had a similar situation where a section didn't come in for five pages and the director started practice by saying, "Okay, we'll stop for today at the top of page 5". Director looked up, noticed the trombone section laughing to themselves, and eventually went with "How about you guys read ahead and see if you can figure out your part on page 6 while we work on these?". He sent them off to a corner, and practice continued as usual with very little lost efficiency.
    – user45266
    Sep 9 '19 at 1:21
  • he can skip the difficult passage and look at it next time

  • play the passage without the whole section or ask the overtaxed players to take a rest during these bars

  • choose another piece and ask the whole orchestra to practice the difficult piece at home

  • practice in different sections and send the group with a deputy bandmaster or a section leader (or any other skilled bandmember) to practice in another room.

The most important point is not to blame the members having difficulties and not to demotivate them or the others. E.g. when the bass or tenor section has a problem the chief can choose a piece where the sopranos have their difficulties too.

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