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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Art of Turning the Page

Disclaimer: While this post is about turning the page, it is not about page turners who save pianist's sanity day in and day out. (Although we do have a funny video about piano page turners at the end of this post.) Nor is this post about page-turners as in the fantastical novel you couldn't put down last night. Rather this post is about orchestral musicians sharing music stands and turning the pages to the never-ending orchestral part of the never-ending symphony/suite/theme and variations. Happy reading!

Orchestral musicians follow long lists of etiquette that includes things like: thou shall not empty your spit valve onto another's shoes. Even the act of turning pages page require conformity to norms and etiquettes. Below are some tips for orchestral string players. (While woodwind, brass, and percussion players enjoying sharing the occasional Facebook post, they don't normally have the opportunity to share music stands with other musicians.)

Who turns the page? Whoever is sitting furthest from the edge of the stage, the "inside" player, turns the page. Wait! But what does the other person do? We will get to that in a minute. The inside player is in charge of turning the page and writing down markings during rehearsals. All of this can happen while the other person is still playing so be careful not to cover up the entire music part with your hand. Also try your best not to accidentally flip the entire music part onto the floor. It has happened many times before! Check with your stand partner when you can turn the page, sometimes it will be earlier, sometimes a bit later. Below is a demonstration video from a violinist regarding turning pages.

What does the other person do? Well, when the inside person is writing down markings and turning the page, the other person should keep playing! The other person who sits closer to the edge of the stage is known as the "outside" player. The outside player is in charge of brining the music to every rehearsal and performance. Basically the outside person is in charge of carrying the music and playing the part no matter what happens. Hence why they are sitting closer to the edge of the stage so that it gives the audience the mirage that there are no interruptions.

Other Tips and Tricks: Do double check that your music part is set up in a way where most page turns occur during rests. This may incredibly difficult for violins who never seems to have rest, but try! Also double check with your stand partner to make sure your page turns suit them. People have preferences and it never hurts to ask for some feedback and suggestions.

Now time for some laughs. Victor Borge and his son, the notorious timid page turner. Enjoy!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pencil It In: Musicians and Pencils

The bond between musicians and their pencils cannot be denied. While the metronome may be the musician's best friend at home, the pencil is the musician's most trusted advisor during rehearsals. The pencil documents the many moments in rehearsal, whether, happy, sad, elated, desperate, fantastical, or anxious. The pencil witnesses, records, and reminds the musician throughout their musical journey. Whether it is a breath mark, an accent, a pair of glasses, or a cow, these pencil markings are privy to the time shared amongst members of the ensemble. Be a part of the experience and bring your pencil to every rehearsal!

For a more "serious" discussion of musicians and pencils, please read Jean Inaba's article "Pencil It In: One Thing A Good Musician Always Remembers At Rehearsal."

Friday, September 08, 2017

Music Stand

A friendly reminder for everyone to bring their music stand to the first OCMS-SO rehearsal this evening! We have embedded a video on how to open and close a wire music stand seeing as every year we always get at least one musician struggling with these tricky contraptions. To all the engineers who accidentally stumble across this post: Please reinvent the wire music stand. We guarantee all musicians will forever be in your debt!

Bonus: A little light music stand humour for all orchestral musicians below. We only wish our music stands could be this snazzy!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Elite International Music Competition

The Elite International Music Competition for the piano, strings, voice, and other musical instruments invite students who are dedicated to music to participate in the music competition.

The Winners' Recitals of the First and Seconds place honors will be held in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The Winners' Recitals of the Third place honors will be held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Caldwell University in New Jersey.

Ages: 6 through 22

Repertoire: One composition under six (6) minutes from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic or Contemporary periods from standard repertoire. One movement of Sonatina, Sonata, or Concerto is considered as one piece. Arrangements, simplified or modified editions, popular music, or non-classical music are not accepted. Repeats are not allowed. All repertoire must be performed from memory.

In-person auditions are scheduled for January 14, 2018 at University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, 80 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C5 for applicants residing in Toronto.

Applications for the live auditions are accepted on their website by December 10, 2017. Applicants who are unable to attend the live audition may mail their video recordings in any medium by regular mail or e-mail their YouTube or other video sharing sites links to the video recordings by December 1, 2017. Edited video recordings (video shots that have been manipulated and rearranged in order to create a new work) are not accepted.

All the contestants are awarded Certificates of Achievement and numerous performers are also awarded cash prizes and trophies.

Students who have been qualified and have performed at the Elite International Music Competition's Winners' Recital at Carnegie Hall for 5 (five) consecutive years or more or at another music competition's Winners' Recitals held at Carnegie Hall over that period of time, are eligible to receive a Letter of Recommendation to be used for college applications.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity please visit their website

Monday, September 04, 2017

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to the start of another season! The OCMS Symphony Orchestra (OCMS-SO) will be starting our 19th season with rehearsals commencing on Friday, September 8, 2017. Repertoire includes Barber, Beethoven, Bizet, Gade, Haydn, Lehar, Mendelssohn, Rota, and Tchaikovsky. If you enjoy making music and are situated in the GTA/Markham/Richmond Hill regions, come join us this Friday at our regular Friday rehearsals staring from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm. We rehearse at Canadian Chinese Radio near Warden and Steeles (340 Ferrier Street, Suite 208, Markham, ON). Parking is free, but remember to bring your instrument and music stand! For further information and inquiries, please contact our conductors Samantha Chang at or Brian Truong at