NOTES FOR CONDUCTORS
Purpose and style
Everyone who attends SRP loves playing so pieces need to give everyone a good amount of playing. Our members and visitors do not enjoy too much sectional rehearsal if it means they are sitting around. We all understand that we sometimes have to count 20 bars rest, and we know we might be on a part that is all one note semibreves, but the focus is on an opportunity to play.
Highgate International Church, 272 Archway Road, Highgate, London N6 5AU. The church is almost next to a mini-Sainsbury’s. We use the Café entrance – not the main entrance up the steps. You can find detailed information on the travel and parking at the venue at: www.srp.org.uk/north-london-branch-venue/
You should aim to arrive at 2.00pm to allow time to prepare for a start time of 2.30pm. People will be there to help you get organised. There’s a lectern and a table (or piano top) for music copies. The session runs from 2.30pm to around 5.20 pm (to allow time for clearing up, etc.). There is a break for refreshments at around 4.00pm. The refreshment break should be around 15-20 minutes and it is worth stating the time you want to re-start when you announce the break.
Making yourself heard
We rehearse in a large room and are well spaced out . Many players do not hear well and so you will have to speak slowly, project your voice and be clear about your instructions, including leaving time for people to count bars to the right place. It is worth repeating a number of times which parts you are talking about and whether you want people to stop after a particular bar. Please be aware that playing by ear exercises may not work well for everyone in the room.We have a small personal mic with amp for use if anyone finds it hard to project.
Once you have agreed on a date, we will publicise the annual programme on the North London page of the SRP web site. About a month before the session, a committee member will ask you for a short biography and some notes about your programme (you may have a theme or some link between the pieces, but you do not need to itemise any specific music at this point). The Committee Liaison will circulate an email about your session two weeks in advance. We are happy to include publicity about your professional engagements.
We have been getting around 35-40 players at each session (it varies, but very rarely under 30). Below is a guide to the number of copies needed as no one is allowed to share at the moment.
8 x descant
16 x treble
16 x tenor
9 x bass if only one
5 x F bass
4 x C bass (including 1 x contra)
The standard is around Grade 4 to Grade 6 with some who are much better. You can not rely on treble players being able to play up the octave, although a few will (and enjoy doing so). The great basses will play down when required, but really appreciate having their own parts whenever possible. All players are very experienced at sight reading and so can get through quite a few pieces with good outcomes during a playing session.
It is not easy to get everyone to move once they are seated given the amount of paraphernalia that they have around them (stand, water, other recorders, bags, etc.). You can either organise the music into sets by instrument so everyone has everything they need on their stand from the start, or we ask a few people to hand around parts for each piece as you start to rehearse it. Score works well if printed clearly.
Here are a few notes if you would welcome some programming guidance. Also see ‘Purpose’ above. We do love the variety different conductors bring to the group and so we are happy to follow your lead:
- It is worth having a short warm-up piece to get things going and allow for late-comers. See note on playing by ear above.
- A similar piece can be useful for the final few minutes.
- We are happy to work on something substantial for a longer session before refreshments, but we are quick studies and sight read well so not too long.
- Pieces need to give everyone a good amount of playing as people do not enjoy to much sectional rehearsal if it means they are sitting around.
- Depending on the length and complexity, you may need five to eight pieces of music.
- We play a variety of styles and periods, but the main focus is usually madrigals and other 16th and 17th century music. But we leave it up to you if you want to challenge us.
- Be clear with instructions about who is to play and from where. Be prepared to repeat this.
- Think a little about the logistics of handing around the parts and whether you want them back during or after the session / in order or not.
- If you might come back to something, be clear that players must keep it on their stand.
This is your session and we leave it to you to decide how to manage the group. There are one or two people who like to ask questions and keep you talking. You may wish to politely end these interruptions otherwise they can drag on.
Expenses and fees
We will pay you £100 for the session plus any out of pocket expenses on presentation of a receipt. We reimburse reasonable photocopying and travel costs, but ask that you keep them to a minimum and maybe reuse things you have done at other places. We are happy for you to keep the music at the end of the session.
If we have missed anything from this note that you would have found useful to know in advance, please let us know and we will update the page.