Preparing for the orchestra reading

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

  1. Check and double check score for correct notation and ranges of instruments (avoid impossible notes or techniques).
  2. Switch scores with another composer for proof reading. Use MIDI playback to check your piece by ear.
  3. 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.
  4. List instrumentation so rehearsal ordering can be arranged.
  5. List duration (there’s never “enough” time so this is important!)
  6. Parts:  large enough for easy reading (watch page turns if necessary)
  7. Number measures and insert rehearsal letters for rehearsal efficiency.
  8. Be fastidious about tempo/metronome marks/dynamics/articulations!
  9. If you are not sure about an effect have an alternate reading ready to insert after listening.
  10. Scores: spiral (or similar) binding, include a cover: use heavy paper for easier handling.
  11. Bring extra copies of score and parts to reading. People forget things and your colleagues will want to follow along with the score.
  12. 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.

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