Preparing for the Downbeat

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Learning how how to play in an ensemble.

This article extra is part of the feature article The Right Rep.

To prepare for orchestra, one of the best forums is a conducted harp ensemble. In this setting, students gain invaluable listening skills and confidence among like-minded peers who are all tackling the same instrumental challenges. It can also be helpful to explore music in small chamber groups, such as a flute and harp duo, and/or choral ensembles. Orchestral playing can be viewed as chamber music on a large scale, so the small ensemble experiences are therefore crucial to the evolution of a student’s awareness in orchestra. Look for opportunities to participate in harp ensemble, either through your teacher or at summer programs. (See the “Summer Harp Camp Roundup” on pg. 24 for a complete list of harp programs this summer.)

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About the author: Las Vegas native Michelle Gott has played with some of the best orchestras in North America, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Boston Pops. She got her ensemble start young, playing duets with her mother at age 6, and then branching out into harp ensembles and orchestras. After attending the Juilliard School, she moved to Ottawa, Ontario, where she teaches at the University of Ottawa and directs harp ensembles at the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy.

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