GETTING THE MOST OUT OF REHEARSALS: Much of this will apply to rehearsals with any orchestra, band or choir. Please read all of it!
Playing in a band or an orchestra is a co-operative activity.
Please be willing to do whatever needs doing to make it work well for everyone.
If you can't do what the conductor asks, don't panic! Your watchword should be "I can't do that yet..."
DO NOT FOLD your music or punch holes in it. Keep all your orchestra music together, flat and clean, in something that has your name and address on it. Put at least your name on all music which you own, and (lightly in pencil only) on any music lent to you. Most of the music you will play in any amateur group will be lent to you, and some will have been hired at considerable expense! Nowadays, you should assume that the ink is not waterproof, since it may have been produced on an ink jet printer. Unless you are specially asked to do so, or already know you don’t need them, don’t rub out any markings you have made on your parts - if your ensemble plays the same piece again you will probably get the same part back.
A soft pencil (no harder than 2B) and a soft rubber are an essential part of your equipment. Keep them with your instrument all the time.
Do your best to be in your place ready to play (with your instrument tuned) by the nominal start time for the rehearsal and, even more importantly, for performances. If it is necessary to set out chairs before the rehearsal and clear up afterwards, it's very helpful if you can arrive early or stay for a few minutes at the end to help.
Find a position for your chair/stand/self where you can read your music and be aware of the conductor's beat all the time, ideally without moving anything more than your eyes (your combination of eyesight and glasses may prevent this).
When the conductor stops the music, stop playing immediately and listen, don't talk, unless s/he has specifically told you to continue playing while s/he goes away to check balance elsewhere in the auditorium.
While others are rehearsing, you can listen to and learn from what they are doing/do silent practice/think about fingering, bowing, slurs, slide positions/work out difficult rhythms, etc.. Some conductors will tolerate you talking in whispers. You should find the start point of the section being rehearsed by others, so as to be ready when the conductor says, “Now, tutti from that place”.
Write on music LIGHTLY WITH A SOFT PENCIL (no harder than 2B).
What you write may include:
1. Your name (so that mislaid music has a chance of getting back to you).
2. Anything the conductor asks you to do that isn't already indicated in the part
(e.g. add a pause, a break, a change of bowing, a breath mark, an extra dynamic marking).
3. Anything that you need to help you to play the music correctly (e.g. fingering, counting).
The best musical editions will have a bar number at the beginning of every line of music, so get used to looking there when the conductor tells you where to start playing. Some music may, also or instead, have rehearsal letters or numbers, usually quite big and bold, written above the stave, often with a ring or square round them.
"A repeat is a repeat and not a place for discussion" (Walter Bergmann). In other words, if a repeat is marked you expect to play it unless you have been specifically told not to.
Always let the conductor know if you have to miss a rehearsal or are likely to be very late. It may affect the order in which music is rehearsed, or even what music is played.
It may be necessary to arrange for your music to be at the rehearsal if you are not, so that someone else can play your part. Please check.