Next winter is our biyearly orchestra reading by the Westminster Community Orchestra. My colleagues Stefan Young, Benjamin Boyle, and I have put our heads together to come up with this little checklist for student composers preparing for their first reading session. What do you think?
Composers: A Dozen Ways to Avoid Disaster
- Check and double check score for correct notation and ranges of instruments (avoid impossible notes or techniques).
- Switch scores with another composer for proof reading. Use MIDI playback to check your piece by ear.
- Proofread parts as well: Don’t trust Finale/Sibelius to do it for you! Be sure that you have provided parts in their appropriate transpositions.
- List instrumentation so rehearsal ordering can be arranged.
- List duration (there’s never “enough” time so this is important!)
- Parts: large enough for easy reading (watch page turns if necessary)
- Number measures and insert rehearsal letters for rehearsal efficiency.
- Be fastidious about tempo/metronome marks/dynamics/articulations!
- If you are not sure about an effect have an alternate reading ready to insert after listening.
- Scores: spiral (or similar) binding, include a cover: use heavy paper for easier handling.
- Bring extra copies of score and parts to reading. People forget things and your colleagues will want to follow along with the score.
- Know your score inside and out. Time is of the essence! If asked a question by the conductor or a player at the reading, be succinct, polite, and accurate. If asked for feedback, direct your brief comments to the conductor: do not call out individual players.