Over this past year, I have gotten to experience playing music in a few different community ensembles. Playing music in a community group is a great way to play regularly if you are not in school or a professional musician.
With my recent decision to keep music as a hobby, I love being able to still play with others in some capacity. I have played with two different community orchestras and also two different community flute choirs.
Now, one of each of those I received college credit for, but the experience was still the same, aside from the grades. So I wanted to tell you about what it’s like especially if you have graduated from college and no longer have access to school groups.
1. Everyone has different backgrounds.
In a more serious group, you tend to have members who all have similar backgrounds in music. All music majors or grads, long-time lesson students, etc.
When you play in a community group, things will be different. You will have serious music students, music graduates, adult beginners, and other amateur players.
I have met people with masters degrees in music and people who just love playing for the fun of it. So, that means that you may not be able to play the most advanced repertoire even if you are a more advanced player. Keep that in mind before you judge the choices of the pieces. Some music may be out of reach for others.
2. Rehearsals are still important.
Just because you are not playing for money or a grade does not mean that you can blow off rehearsals. You are still in an group that will have performances, and you need to take it seriously.
You still need to prepare ahead of time, and you still need to be a part of the group. Music is an awesome hobby to have, but it being a hobby is no excuse for blowing it off.
If everyone had a so-so mindset about rehearsals, nothing would get done. Plain and simple. You are still, again, working toward a performance, and you (should) want the performance to go well.
3. Do it because you love it.
Community groups will be different from student groups. In student ensembles, like pro ensembles, everyone has a similar background, even between music majors and non-majors.
Playing music with other members of the community is pretty different. You will have people who have played for decades and people who have only played for a few months. I have met a couple of adult beginners and adult re-beginners (people who stopped playing for a while).
This means the music might be of a different level than if you were playing with other serious students and players. The “hard” parts may be not as hard or you may not get to play more challenging pieces. That’s okay, though, because you still get to play.
4. Some groups have membership dues.
Now for the groups where I was a student member, I had to pay tuition, which could count as a membership fee. But of the groups I joined as a community member, one is free (though I was accepted based on credentials) and the other does have membership dues.
Dues can be annoying, but they can help make the group better by providing resources such as better music. It takes money to run any sort of group so when a group doesn’t have the backing of a college or university or other entity, it can be hard to grow without membership dues.
I was a bit shocked when I found out one of the groups I wanted to join had a fee, but I understand that the money will not just be thrown around randomly.
5. It’s an opportunity to play and perform.
If you aren’t a professional musician, it can be hard to find performance opportunities. Sure you can practice and play on your own at home, but that can get boring over time.
Joining a community group guarantees that you will have the opportunity to perform regularly with others. You can seek out solo opportunities, but if you prefer playing with others, community groups are a great way to perform.
I was in a community orchestra this past summer, and we had three concerts in six weeks. The rehearsals were tough, but I got to perform. I believe that it is important to practice the skills you have. If I don’t keep performing, I could lose that confidence I gained in school.
6. It’s fun!
Yes, it is different than any other group you have played with, but it is still music. I can still do the thing I love and share my passion for music with others. I can even share my musical knowledge with other musicians!
Just in the last couple of weeks, I was able to recommend different resources to different people. I loved seeing their faces light up when learning something new.
While music may not be my profession, it is still a passion of mine, and I love being able to play and have the excuse to keep up with my flute and piccolo.
There you have it! Six things I have learned from playing music in community groups. It is its own experience, but I think every musician should give it a try.
Have you ever played in a community group? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for exclusive content sent to your inbox!