top of page
how to prepare



Order the best editions possible: 

***Buy a good score if possible; or download a score from imslp. 


Study the score and highlight principal voice(s) everywhere. 

  • When you are the principal voice, take your dynamic up one level. When you are not, play more softly.

  • Learn all the parts, not just your own.

  • Mark with whom you’re playing in rhythmic unison, duets, etc. I use different colors or write +vla, +clo, +vln 2, etc.

  • Mark cues so you know where to enter.

  • Mark where voices are trading off. Example - Britten #2 Vln 1 part, marked:

  • Check register – are you higher or lower than other voices? Are you in danger of being covered up? Do you need to compensate for your register if you are low?

  • Try out composers’ metronome marks if they are provided.

  • Think about emotions and characters; mark adjectives.

  • Transfer the markings you make in the score into your individual part.

Research the composer and piece. Listen to other works by your composer.

***Find at least one video of your piece on Youtube: Brahms Sextet Opus 36 

  • Listen while watching your score.

  • Set the tempo to 50% speed. 

  • Copy bowings and fingerings.

  • Play with the video at 50% or 75% speed.

  • Rehearse your part with the metronome.

  • Mark your solos and difficult passages with a star in the margin and practice them more than other places.

  • Memorize your part as much as possible.

Create a Google Drive. Load your music into it. Then download to an IPad. Get FourScore and you can mark and save; you can even play from the score if you have a foot pedal!


LISTEN AS HARD AS YOU CAN!When playing, 80% of your ear should be on other voices.

***Slow work is ideal for developing listening and playing skills.


  • Listen for articulations. If you can’t tell, play in pairs.

  • Match bowings.

  • Match amounts of bow. 

  • Match where you are in the bow. WATCH EACH OTHERS’ BOWS! 

  • Match body language.

  • Match vibratos.

  • Rehearse in pairs – one pair plays while the other pair listens and comments. 

  • If someone is sick, rehearse without them; you’ll hear better.


  • Record a run-through of a section or movement at the end of the session. Share the recording so everyone can listen.  

  • Mark your own part if you made a mistake. Circle an entrance, put an arrow forward or backward, change a dynamic, or write suggestions to yourself.

  • Write down 3 helpful comments to tell the group at the next rehearsal. 


  • Express your comments to each other with the aim of making the music as well as each person sound better.

  • Make positive and specific suggestions – “Could you use more bow in bar 245?” is much better than “You sound weak, I can’t ever hear you.”

  • Be open. Appreciate every person’s ideas. Don’t say No or even Yes But – 

  • say Yes And…

  • Keep your comments about the music; do not make personal attacks.

  • If you are attacked, do not react emotionally; try to get the person to give specifics about what they want you to do differently. “A wise man can learn more from one fool than a fool can learn from twenty wise men.” Even an awkwardly phrased comment can sometimes have merit.

  • It is always okay to say that you think something is wrong, but you don’t know what it is! Then together the group can figure out what’s missing.

  • Make a specific plan for the next rehearsal so you can all practice what’s needed.



  • Mimic each other’s body language. 

  • Sing together, without instruments; conduct while you sing, especially when there are complicated meter changes. 

  • Feel where you are in the bar at all times, and show downbeats.

  • Breathe together and cue each other in character.

bottom of page