Teaching jazz ear training was fine this morning, even though I had to miss pretty much all of the morning So Percussion class. Only one person showed up on time, however--everyone else was anywhere from five minutes to twenty minutes late. I guess that's just a jazz thing. Who knows.
Orchestra (both concert and symphony) seems particularly nasty this year. The common opinion among the Peabody student body is "oh man, Teri (our conductor) sucks, I hate orchestra so I don't care about it." To be completely honest, I'm not particularly fond of the way Teri conducts, how he runs rehearsal, or how he interacts with students. It's not a personal thing--I'm just not a fan. However, it frustrates me to no end that the people who complain about orchestra the most are the ones who consistently come in unprepared and don't try at all to make the music sound good--especially because Teri actually does a really good job doing his homework as our conductor and coming to rehearsal prepared. I really felt for Gleb (sophomore clarinetist, playing principal in the Barber Second Essay) today--he has a lot of really hard stuff to play (both solos as well as just tough ensemble material), and he showed up to the first rehearsal with that shit nailed to the wall. We just had our third rehearsal, and he still sounds fantastic. However, Teri tore into him a couple of times today about rhythmic stuff, how he needs to count, the usual. The thing I found really impressing was how he took all of the comments from the conductor, immediately adjusted to his demands, and was able to maintain the same musical integrity he had before. I wished two things:
1. For Teri to acknowledge to him and the orchestra how well he was doing,
2. For everybody else to know their parts like he did (myself included).
Teri really isn't looking for much music right now, and I'm not sure if that's his fault or ours. Teri's been really fixated on counting lately, saying things like "orchestra, you can't feel this music, you have to count it" way more than he normally does. I don't think that's necessarily true--people aren't trying to "feel" the music... they just don't know it. People need to learn their parts, listen to the piece, get familiar enough with the music so that by the first rehearsal, people aren't sight reading and we can actually focus on things like musicality. Once everyone in the group has their part nailed to the wall, then we can complain about Teri. But right now, he knows this music better than we do--so we can't really complain.
Honestly, it puts me in a strange situation. I think part of the reason the orchestra is so unprepared (for this example, especially PCO) is because we have a lot of young, wide-eyed string players, many of which who have never been in an institution of this caliber and are looking for inspiration and eager to fall in love with orchestral repertoire. We absolutely do not get this under Teri's baton, and I don't think that many would disagree with me there. But at the same time, that's just because Teri is not that type of conductor--and it would be a little silly for him to try to fake something like that. Teri is the type of conductor who comes to rehearsal knowing the music inside-out, and expects everyone else to know it like that too. He's not looking to be your friend, he's not looking to have fun with you, and he's not going to put up with anything he considers bullshit. What he wants, and I have to respect this, is to be able to work with musicians who are as prepared and serious as he is. Personally, I'd love to have a conductor who is both. So what do I do? Do I don the attitude of "man orchestra sucks I don't like Teri so I'm not gonna care about it", and resolve to the fact that we're going to suck and I didn't try to do anything about it? Or do I have to start tapping violinists on the shoulder and say "dude, how about you do us all a favor and go learn that rhythm", and perhaps even burn a few bridges along the way? Maybe, as I often do, I can find a compromise. Who knows.
In more positive news, even though working with So might have cost me an arm (but not a leg, as the saying would continue), it made me realize that I would really love working with a group like that for the rest of my life. There are even a few people in school with me right now I could see my self playing with for the rest of my life. Who knows!