Weekly notes from Der Erlkönig

This week – for PYSO rehearsal on December 9:

I have a goal in mind for everyone to achieve by the concert day – I would like all of you to be able to play Elgar and Ravel almost by memory.

The reason for me asking you this is to enhance your ability to listen to other players in the orchestra and also improve your skills to watch me, and your friends.

This will result in drastic improvement in our sound and ensemble.

For this upcoming rehearsal on Sunday, please try to memorize:

Theme, variation 1, variation 2.
For brass & percussion: try to memorize the finale variation from number 79 to the end.

On top of this, please go over everything your coaches focused on last sectional, so that not only will you retain what you have learned, but improve it by next rehearsal.

For sectionals on December 2
(December 1 for basses) (no sectionals for percussion, harp, keyboard)

I would like all of you to concentrate on producing rich expressive tone.
Focus on your bow arm to play deep into the strings in general, with rich vibrato that really sings out.
Once we achieve this sound world, we can tone down in certain parts when the music calls for a more transparent texture.

Focus on all the fast variations as before.
Don’t let these variations go- always try to improve your intonation and rhythm. Please use your metronome at all times.

In addition, please focus on:
Variation 5 (rich tone)
Variation 6 (violas especially!)
Variation 8 (focus on rhythm! Use metronome eighth notes equals 112)
Variation 9 (focus on sound production on full dynamic sections and also playing legato throughout)

Variation 12: this is for violas and celli- please focus on intonation and sound production.

Winds and brass:
Now that seating assignments have been sent out, please focus on your individual parts and go through all the important solo parts in the pieces if you are playing 1st parts.
I would like all of you to listen to the recording again to really find out where these important spots are and put a big star next to it on your parts.

I have a special task for you-
I would like all of you to download the score from imslp and go through the score while listening to the recording.
Break it down in sections- I would start with the finale variation first and really learn your entrances to your bone.

Here is the link to the full score-


For everyone:
Please focus on the second movement this week-
Listen to the recording while following your part at least 10 times before Sunday.

Thank you and have a great sectional on Sunday.


Week of November 18 (week of Thanksgiving)

Thank you for your hard work last Sunday. I hope you agree that
rehearsal is so much more productive (and dare I say fun?!) when we come
prepared. Ms. Marcucci of Philadelphia International Music Festival was
very complimentary to Craig, Eve and me about how impressive you all

Please see below for what I would like you to focus on during the
Thanksgiving week.


I would like everyone to focus on Elgar. Here are my specific practice


Focus on Theme, Variation 1, Var.2, Finale

* Work on achieving a rich and confident sound quality in the forte
sections of the Theme, and Variation 1.
* Focus on vibrating every note.
* When practicing Variations 2 work very slowly under tempo (dotted
quarter note equals 60 and bring it up to tempo one click at a time).
_IMPORTANT_! I would like you to record this section (with the metronome
at 65 for dotted quarter) on your mobile device at least 4 different
times during this week. Listen to it after each recording and make a
note of what you can improve on for the next time you record it.
* Keep working in Finale-continue to pay close attention to tempo,
pacing, key signatures as well as focusing on your intonation. This is a
very demanding variation that you need to know like the back of your

Focus on: Theme, Var.1, Var.4,Var.5, Var.12, Finale

* When practicing the Theme and Var. 1 focus on creating pure
intonation and a good rich sound. I suggest practicing with a tuner
(which you can download on your phone for free) (do you have link I can
insert here?)
* In Var.4 work on intonation as well as understanding of the
chromatic notes between reh #12 to Reh #13
* In Var.5 work on intonation and creating a rich sound using the same
instructions I gave for the Theme & Var. I.
* (This pertains to cello and viola only) – For Var.12 I do not want
cellos to worry about the cello solo, rather I’d like viola and cello to
focus on intonation and sound quality from 3 m. after Reh #52 to 3 m.
before Reh #55. _IMPORTANT! _I would like all violas and celli to record
this section using your phone at least three times during the
thanksgiving week. Listen to it after each recording and make a note of
what you can improve on for the next time you record it.
* Keep working in Finale-continue to pay close attention to tempo,
pacing, key signatures as well as focusing on your intonation. This is a
very demanding variation that you need to know like the back of your


Please work on all the fast variations for notes, intonation and

I won’t ask much of you because woodwinds and brass have to make an
audition tape for seating assignments this week.

Have a wonderful break and thank you for your hard work!


Week of November 11

I have been thinking a lot about trying to come up with a new practice method that will help you prepare for the upcoming rehearsals more effectively and efficiently.

Every Monday evening or on Tuesday morning, I will send out an email detailing what we will cover at the following rehearsal as well as information on what I want/need you to prepare at home beforehand.

The pieces we work on are usually very long, and with all of our busy schedules, it may be daunting to know how to begin practicing and/or where to even start. My goal is to help you save time by telling you what music to practice as well as how to get the most out of your practice time.

Our collective weekly goal will be to rehearse these chosen sections thoroughly so that they will be almost concert ready by the end of each rehearsal. I am confident that as we proceed with this rehearsal style we will all become more comfortable with what is expected of each other and will see how rewarding rehearsals will be when we all work together to get the most out of our time together.

For our November 18th rehearsal, please practice:

Elgar: Var.2, Var.4, Var.7, Var.11, Finale

Ravel: Mvt.3, 4

Before even picking up your instrument take 30 minutes to listen to a recording of these variations/excerpts while you read along with your part:

  1. Here is a youtube link of Simon Rattle conducting Elgar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SzRCMgpX8A
  2. Here is a link to the youtube recording of Ravel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv3BK82JHaQ (Please spend a lot of time listening to this recording with your part. The music is very flexible, so we need to be much more attentive to what other parts are doing in connection with our own part.)Practicing tips for Elgar (in this order):
  • Focus on Finale; I know there are lots of fast notes- please go over them slowly! What I expect from all of you is your deep knowledge of the tempo, pacing, key signatures and your notes in this variation.
  • Next focus on Var 11 (G.R.S.) and Var. 7; Practice them very slowly at first- For Variation 11, start at half note equals 60, and make it perfect at that tempo first. If you can bring it up to around 70 by the next rehearsal, it would be great.
  • For Variation 7, start at half note equals 90 and work very slowly. (For timpani and lower strings: this rhythm is very confusing, so extra focus from you!) Please work on getting the tempo up to about 105 or so.
  • Variation 2: (Again start slowly!) try from dotted quarter equals 58-60. If this is still challenging please start even slower. Please go over this movement at a very slow tempo at least 8 times a day- (it’s about a minute long).
Practicing tips for Elgar (in this order):
  • Focus on the 4th mvmt
  • 3rd mvmt: Start practicing under tempo (quarter note equals 90 or so). While you practice slowly, still keep the articulations very sharp and agile.
I thank you for your passion, and dedication. Like I said before, I am proud to be your colleague, and I look forward to our next rehearsal.

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