May 4 & 5, 2019

What a year it was! I feel very lucky to have worked with you – you all brought such joy in my life through you incredible music making. We have our final concert coming up, and I would like to bring your attention to all the pieces we are performing as a whole, but also to specific parts to enhance our understanding of the music.

-Horns: measure 19- please make sure that you don’t fall behind in rhythm.
-Piano in measure 112 and parallel place: please make sure that you really listen to the piccolo and play together.
-Flute and clarinet at measure 202- please go through your parts with a metronome.

-Brass in rehearsal number 3: please keep the articulation concise, and practice at home for pure intonation.
-2nd Violins at rehearsal number 5: please make sure you keep the tempo moving.
-first horn two measure before rehearsal number 7: please play more.
-two measures after number 9 to number 10: please spend good amount of time practicing this section. Go under tempo and slowly bring it up. I expect perfection on Saturday! ūüôā
-Percussions : 12 measures after numbers 11: please go through in detail.

I would like the whole orchestra to really focus on following movements:
Romeo and Juliet
Spend good time listening through the recording, playing along with it o fully understand again how your part fits the rest of the group. Cello-thank you for working hard on the famous difficult passages in the slow movement. We have made great progress, but I need more! Let’s spend more time on it individually so that it will be amazing at the concert.

That’s all! Thank you all for taking your time reading this email.

I look forward to seeing all of you on Saturday (rehearsal from 1:00 to 4:30 PM) and Sunday for the 3:30 PM dress rehearsal and 7:30 PM concert!




April 7, 2019
It’s game time. The Heinz Hall Concert is less than a month away and Tiffany Concert is less than 2 weeks away and we still have a long ways to go!
For this week, we need to make sure that couple of pieces will be polished to concert ready level.

Mendelssohn Sinfonia and Ravel’s Mother Goose:
We won’t have time to review/rehearse these two pieces for more than one hour. Remember even though the entire orchestra is not playing the Tiffany Concert on April 14, I still need all orchestra members to stay and rehearse the Ravel this Sunday since this is one of the pieces that Maestro Slatkin will be rehearsing with the orchestra on April 13. PLEASE make sure to review it.

M√°rquez: we have done very good work last week. Please take time to practice all the sections that seemed to be difficult in last rehearsal. Go through the piece is smaller sections before our rehearsal on Sunday.

Prokofiev: Child Juliet, and Romeo and Juliet (slow movement) has to be concert ready by the end of the rehearsal this weekend.
In Child Juliet, please memorize the slow sections in the middle where the wind instruments have solos. Strings: you really need to know what is going on!
Slow movement: memorize the opening section that I have asked you for by next rehearsal.
Celli: the sections that I asked you to memorize will be reviewed during the rehearsal.

Abe:  please fine tune the technical parts that we went over (fast passages) by next rehearsal.

See you on Sunday!

March 15, 2019

We will be working on Abe Prism Rhapsody and Márquez Danzon No.2 this weekend but also concentrate on Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet, because Maestro Manfred Honeck with be working with younext week (March 24) for part of the rehearsal on Prokofiev, and I ask that you PLEASE put in extra effort to learn your part thoroughly.
This week (March 17) we will start the rehearsal with Abe, without the soloist. What I need all of you to do, BEFORE you come to rehearsal this weekend, is go through the music with the recording that was provided to you in last week’s email, and make sure you figure out the key, accidentals and the general tempo of the each section of the piece.
The same thing is required for Márquez.
We will begin the rehearsal on March 17 by listening through the recording of both pieces all together and following along in the parts.
You all have been doing incredibly well and I am so proud of you.
Let’s really keep up the hard work until the end!
See you all on Sunday!
Earl Lee


March 5, 2019

This upcoming Sunday (March 10) we will be concentrating on Prokofiev especially the inner movements: child Juliet, Minuet, Romeo and Juliet. I would like all of you to really concentrate on how your part fits with others.
Strings: please focus on your rhythm and also intonation.
Celli: there are some difficult passages for intonation in the slow movement (Romeo and Juliet). Please go over them slowly and be sure to come prepared for our next rehearsal.

Keiko Abe: we might not get to this on Sunday, but I would like everyone to come fully prepared- knowing how your part fits in the context. Please listen to the recording following your part at least 5 times before this Sunday. Here is the link: you all have an iPhone (smart phone), Please consider buying an app called Amazing Slowdowner. You can transfer your recording to this app and slow down the tempo as you please. It’s a great way to practice your parts slowly playing with your recording.

Again: our goal this Sunday is to bring all the inner movements of Prokofiev up to almost concert level.

Thank you for your hard work and I look forward to seeing all of you soon!


This week from Earl for February 10 please focus on:
(Practice with the metronome.)
I am aware that this piece still doesn’t feel familiar to you. Please go through the piece with the recording 10 times while playing. Know your entrances please.
Elgar: please go through all the delicate variations such as Ysobel, Dorabella, and Romanza. Please go through them in detail- I am really looking for fine sense of understanding in other people’s parts from all of you.
Ravel: 3rd and 4th movement has to feel very secure.
As I said many times, I need all of your attention, paying attention to others while you play. Get out of your music!

This week from Earl – January 20, 2019
Thank you for a wonderful rehearsal last Sunday. We are very close to our second concert of the year and I would like to propose a few things. But before we get to that, here is the inspiration video of the week:¬†an excerpt from the Alpine Symphony by R. Strauss. The piece is based on a person’s journey hiking up a big mountain in the alps. The part in this video describes the scene and the summit.
Put on a headphone!
Alpine Symphony by R. Strauss

I would also like you to take a listen to a part in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.Eve and I will work on getting the pdf part to this section to you early so that all of you can have ample time work on it.
Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

For January 20, please focus on:
–¬† Play few difficult passages for your private teacher! I am sure there are several parts that you feel that you can improve on. Ask your private teachers to go over it in your lesson, at least for few minutes. If you or your private teacher feel like there simply isn’t enough time in a short lesson to go over things, please let Craig know- we will try to find a solution to help you. I am happy to find time to help if you would like.
–¬† Spend time on all the “simple” spots:¬† I notice that there are lots of ensemble issues in the slow accompaniment sections especially in Elgar.
–¬† Please spend majority of your practice hour on these sections and also spend time to listen to the recording.¬† (I told you all during the rehearsal which variations they are)
–¬† Spend 30 minutes on all the fast difficult passages in the (Elgar) finale. Practice slowly with a metronome and bring it up little at a time.
–¬† Supermaximum:¬† Please spend at least one hour on this piece by next Sunday- mark your parts with beats, and go over the middle section where the notes and rhythm gets more complicated.
–¬† Listen to the Supermaximum recording at least 5 times following your parts on top of spending one hour of practice.

This week from Earl – January 2019

Happy New Year! I am looking forward to making music with all of you in 2019.

For our sectional this upcoming Sunday, January 6, I would like all of you to play through Elgar 5 times with a recording of your choice from YouTube (whole piece). I would like you to learn how it feels like to play through the piece. After each run through, please make a note of which variation seemed challenging to you. Pick 3 variations that was most challenging, and go though those spots more in detail and depth. In the chosen 3 variations, focus on rhythm, tempo, and sound quality.

Ravel- Same as Elgar. Run through the entire piece 5 times. Choose 2 movements to work more in depth and in detail.

I look forward to seeing you all this weekend.
Stay warm! Best Wishes,


This week from Earl – December 22:

Aloha from Hawaii. Happy Holidays!

Thank you so much for your sweet birthday video.

It’s been a great few months for me to get to know you, and work with you. You all brought me such joy and always made me look forward to our rehearsals on Sunday evening.

I am looking forward to spending more weeks with all of you, filled with smiles and great music making.

Inspiration video of the week:
Roby Lakatos and his band playing ‚Äútwo guitars‚ÄĚ
His pizzicatos are still a mystery to me.

As I have mentioned in a previous email, I would like to start/propose a project for every concert – trying to play from memory as much as possible.

Although it is never a priority to memorize the music, I strongly feel that we can benefit a lot from getting out of our parts more.

By doing so we can:
-gain more awareness of other parts
-concentrate more on quality sound production
-enhance our ensemble
-create more shapes and phrases in the music

During the Holiday break, I would like for all of us to try to memorize the following-

Variation 1, 2, Nimrod and Finale

Ravel: 5th movement

How to practice

I realize that Finale is a much longer variation than the others.
Try to break down the sections into one minute increments. Set a goal on what you would like to improve on that section.
I am sure I have mentioned this before: it is very important that at the end of your practice session, you recording yourself using your mobile device. Listen to it following your parts and make a list of what you think should be improved. Work on improving from that list on your next practice session.

I have found this to be the most effective practicing method- after all, you are your biggest critic. Always set your goal high and when you are truly satisfied with your own playing, the chances are that your playing is really ready to go!

Keep working on other variations and movements as well, while concentrating on parts mentioned above.

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to email me. My personal email address is

I miss all of you! Stay warm and see you all in 2019.




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:
  2. Here is a link to the youtube recording of Ravel: (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.

Pin It on Pinterest