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Thread: Pianist wanting to learn new instrument to play in an orchestra

  1. #1
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    Apr 2010
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    Default Pianist wanting to learn new instrument to play in an orchestra

    I am a 17 years old pianist and would really like to learn a small instrument which I could play in an orchestra (or jazz band or concert band... etc). The problem is that I cannot decide of which instrument to learn and would like your help.

    First of all, I am looking for a portable instrument (which means harp, bassoon, cello, etc. are not part of the choice)
    I am also not interested in learning guitar or bass guitar

    The real choice is really:
    -French Horn

    I have been trying out trumpet for the past couple of months and really like it, but my real concern is that I want to play an instrument with which I will be able to play in amateur orchestra/jazz band as soon as possible. This has me thinking that I should learn the violin since there are so many in orchestras and I could definitely get a spot as 4th violin or so, but then I also have to think about playing the sax or trumpet in a local jazz band.

    If any of you have past experience in a similar situation, please let me know. I would also like to know about people that started late to learn an instrument but are now playing in a band/orchestra.

    Thank you,

  2. #2
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    Mar 2009
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    French horn players are objects of many jokes, like violists. Don't know if it's truth, but seems like decent hornist is rare creature. You can contribute to this world by becoming one. And french horn would sound nice in jazz (I've heard one album by John Clark and it's the proof).

    And imagine! You walk though the street late in the night, some geezers are approaching you in dark sidestreet... they say: C'mon dude, pop the dough and cell! But you do not answer them, just take you french horn out of the case and blow majestic fanfare, in couple of seconds you see Siegfried coming to help you, he cuts their heads off and disappears in the night.

    You may not belive me, but that's exactly how the french horn works.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
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    I'd say take the flute or Oboe

    Of all the instruments on that list (with possibly to exception of the sax), they are the ones that require the least work.

    I can also reccomend the snare drum
    Last edited by Rasa; Apr-13-2010 at 22:36.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2009
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    If you want to play in an orchestra, pick what's in demand. Viola, double-bass, trombone, bassoon. Non-professional orchestras are usually desperate for players of these instruments. You've no chance with the flute. The oboe is a bitch to play, but if you do it, learn the cor anglais as well...
    If you want to be really popular, larn the bassoon and get yourself a contra as well.

    Of course they're all portable. I once knew a guy who drove to rehearsal - with his double bass - in a VW beetle.
    The pipe-organ - now that's a non-transportable instrument.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
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    Of the smaller instruments, amateur/local orchestras are always looking for violins, violas, oboes. (They're also always looking for bassonists and hornists). The viola is particularly rare - could be for several reasons - so if you want to get into a local orchestra that's one to think about.

    Unfortunately, stringed instruments take a lot of work up front (before you really start playing). There's a lot to consider and bad habits in the early stages will hinder you technically just a little later. Best to get a good teacher (or someone who has at least grade 8) for a few lessons, then maybe some guidance once a month. (As you play piano you won't have to be taught how to read music!).

    The oboe is almost as difficult and a good teacher in the early stages again is advisable. Only problem with the oboe is the price and reeds don't come cheap either. Don't buy a second hand instrument (except from a good supplier like Howarths) without expecting it to need servicing.

    I play violin and oboe, can manage viola (no great shakes on either but play in various local orchestras - second oboe, that is). You'll never be without "work"!

    Good luck, all the same.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2008
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    I was in an identical situation as you, and I picked Viola. Reason is you can play in either a full symphonic or string orchestra and orchestras always need violists no matter how bad you are. If you prefer to play more jazz stuff, then clarinet or sax. I find the oboe extremely hard to play well.

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