Rubiks are two weeks out from ‘The cold earth slept below’ and rehearsals have well and truly begun! This program involves a solo work, trio, sextet and song cycle so needless to say, we require some guest musicians.
Choosing a musician to join the mix of a pre-established ensemble can be a very delicate task. Of course you want a fantastic musician, but there are many more factors to consider. Not only do you need the right fit musically, but it’s also important to consider whether the personalities of your guest musicians and your group will gel together. Kaylie, our Rubiks percussionist, often references many pearls of wisdom she picked up during her time at the Sō Percussion Summer Institute, including the following: “Be a great player and a great hang”. It may sound silly, but it is definitely something to consider – whether entering pre-established ensembles yourself as a musician or when choosing a guest for your own ensemble. It’s also a good reminder that while time in the practice room mastering your instrument is crucial, do remember that connecting with people is also important – especially if you’re considering a freelance career in music.
Once you’ve found your ideal players, the next important thing to consider is whether you all have timetables that will allow for a productive rehearsal period. Rubiks require four guest musicians for our next program, so we need to coordinate the schedules of eight people for the rehearsal period. The Internet has greatly eased this process (changed order), as there are so many programs available to help simplify coordinating times. Rubiks tend to use ‘doodlepoll’ to gather availabilities of our players, and we know many other wonderful ensembles have had equal success using ‘Google Cal’ or ‘whenisgood’. This is a whole lot quicker than emailing back and forth to figure out when everyone might be free!
So you’ve gathered player availabilities and secured your venues – now comes the first rehearsal day! You might think that this is when the work begins, but actually this is just when your combined work begins. First rehearsal etiquette is really important in setting up a productive and happy rehearsal environment before your gig. You should definitely be across your own notes before the first rehearsal, but to really be at your best you also want to be aware of the context of your part. Knowing a bit about your musical surroundings and the role your instrument is playing at any given moment in the piece means you’ll have a deeper understanding of the music. Spending time listening to recordings and working with a score is the best preparation for this – and marking cues into your part is always an excellent idea.
It’s also wise to arrive a little early (especially for that first rehearsal) in order to find your seating placement within the ensemble, allow for any questions to be answered and meet any players that are new to you! Ensemble success rarely comes from having a tyrannical enforcer, so the best way to demonstrate this etiquette within your ensemble is to lead by example. With rehearsals continuing next week, it’s back into the practice room for us this weekend. Not only are there notes to be learned on our usual instruments, but also a few extra unusual sounds to master. Clue: there was a trip to Bunnings involved…
-Tamara- Rubiks Collective