How to Learn Orchestral Excerpts Effectively

When you take auditions for any orchestra, you will need to know the standard orchestral excerpts. An excerpt is a small section within a larger orchestral work which usually has some sort of challenge( fast notes or troublesome intonation). Listed below are some of my favorite ways to learn orchestral excerpts.

1. Get a good fingering. When starting out learning an excerpt or any piece of music, it is important to experiment with fingerings to find the one that works best for YOU. Fingerings are very personal and what works for you may not work well for someone else. A good fingering can solve many technical problems.

2. Figure out why this particular excerpt is chosen. If it has hard intonation, you know that the intonation is the one thing you need to be flawless. If you find the skill the jury is looking for within the excerpt and make it perfect, you have a much higher chance of getting the audition.

3. This trick is obvious, but slow practice is a must. For anything to be consistantly good, it takes slow repitition.

4. You should be familiar with the work as a whole so that you can know the context of the excerpt and the character you should use to play it. You should also be aware of what the other instruments are doing during the measures of the excerpts.

5. You should know if your part is important or not. Sometimes the judges give you experts that are secondary to the main theme and they want to hear the excerpt played like an accompaniment. If you are playing the theme, bring it out and play it like a concerto.

These are my favorite tips for learning orchestral excerpts. These tricks really speed up the learning process and should make the audition process easier.

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