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PofE080: Everything I Learned Playing in an Orchestra

Conductor CEO

For as long as I can remember, I have been a musician.  I have played the bass, both upright and electric, throughout my youth and into adulthood. During these many years as a professional and classically trained musician, I learned more than just playing notes. I learned systems and how they work together.

Consider an orchestra for a minute. You can break them into four sections:

  1. Strings
  2. Winds
  3. Brass
  4. Percussion

These are all led by a conductor. Within each of these sections, there are smaller sections.

Strings - Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, and Bass (my favorite).

Winds - Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon.

Brass - Trumpet, Trombone, Horn, and Tuba.

Percussion - Timpani, Snare, Marimba, etc., (there are many different instruments in this section).

Within these sections, you can break them down into even smaller categories:

Strings- Inner player and outer player (players share a stand and can read two different parts from the same sheet of music).

Winds- Flute (Piccolo, Alto, Bass Flutes), Oboe (English Horn), Bassoon (Contra), and Clarinet (there are many sizes of clarinet, all the way to Contra Bass).

Brass- Trumpets (Piccolo, and other sizes), Trombone (Bass), and Tuba (Euphonium).

Percussion- Like I said earlier percussionists must be the master of all types of instruments- the one rule is they must be struck. Did you know that a piano is considered a percussion instrument?

In each section there is a hierarchy- usually, the first chair runs the section, and they usually have the second chair as a partner. If there were a president of an orchestra, it would be the concertmaster- or first chair violin. The conductor can be thought of as the CEO.

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