22: String Strategies and Tackling your Fears with Kira Omelchenko

Show Notes

My guest today Dr. Kira Omelchenko will be sharing with us her tips of working with strings. When you work with an orchestral ensemble, no matter a chamber orchestra, a full symphonic orchestra, or even just a few musicians at your church’s Christmas service, you are very likely working with string players, and perhaps quite some of them.

After all, string makes up the largest body in an orchestra, and because of the nature of having multiple players per part, knowing how to work with strings will really help your rehearsal process and to achieve better performances.

Of course, we all have different backgrounds and trainings and it could be intimidating to work with strings for the first time, or the first few times when you are less experienced. There is also this immediate problem of matching the bowings across the string sections that needs to be addressed. 

Dr. Kira Omelchenko is currently the conductor of the Wilfrid Laurier University Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada. Previously, she served as string director for the International Opera Performing ExperienceFestival in Mercatello sul Metauro in Italy and artist in residence and guest conductor with the University of Aveiro Orchestra in Portugal. Her upcoming engagements include conducting at the Vienna Opera Academy and Orlando All-County Festival Orchestra. 

Links Mentioned in Today's Episode

Kira: 0:00
The number one tip for non string players when you’re working with the or strings in your orchestra is to know that you’re not alone is that you know, plenty of help and that you’re not the first one to feel like this and you won’t be the last one that feel like this. Talk to your section leaders talk to your principal players, you know, have them help out with bowings have them demonstrate, you know what you want good sounds all that.

Chaowen: 0:25
Hey there, welcome to The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting, a conductor with over 20 years of experience working with professional symphony orchestras, opera houses, new music groups, and vocalist. I’m also founder of gross will conduct and has mentored hundreds of conductors from across the globe. I created The Conductor’s Podcast to share all the behind the scenes secrets with you while I interview conductors, musicians and business gurus from around the world. This is a space created for conductors, conducting student musicians and non musicians who are curious and interested in learning more about the profession, craft, industry and business.

Chaowen: 1:12
Shy away from the real talk? No way. Money, hardship, growth and the roller coaster of conducting career are all topics we discuss here. I will give you a simple actionable step by step strategies to help you take action on your big dream. Multiple the fear that’s holding you back and have a real impact. Now, for that proceed, make sure you’re closing and get ready to be challenged and encouraged while you learn.

Chaowen: 1:49
How Hey there happy Thursday if you’re listening when this episode is released, or happy any day if you’re just joining us later anytime of the year. Today, my guest Dr. Kira Omelchenko will be sharing with us her tips on working with strings. When you work with an orchestra ensemble, no matter a chamber orchestra of four symphonic orchestra, or even just a few musicians at your church’s Christmas service. For example, you are very likely working with the string players, and perhaps quite some of them. After all strings makes up the largest body in an orchestra. And because of the nature of having multiple players per part, knowing how to work with strings, we really help your rehearsal process and to achieve better performances. Of course, we all have different backgrounds and training and it could be intimidating to work with strings for the first time or the first few times when you’re less experienced. There is also this immediate problem of having to match the bones across the string sections that needed to be addressed. Data Kyra lomachenko is currently the conductor of the Wilfrid Laurier University Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, and Canada. Previous Previously, she served as string tech director for the International Opera performing experience festival and metadata lawsuit Matt Tyrell and Italy and artistic and residents and guest conductor with the University of alviero orchestra in Portugal. Her upcoming engagement include conducting at the Vienna Opera Academy and Orlando old county Festival Orchestra. Welcome to the show, Kara. And I’m so thrilled to welcome you to the conductor’s podcast. And I can’t wait for you to share your story and experience with my audience.

Kira: 4:01
Thank you so much for the invitation. It’s a pleasure to be here with Chow when I look forward to our conversation today.

Chaowen: 4:08
So before we get started, will you please give everybody just a short intro about your background and how you were how’d you get to where you are now? Sure.

Kira: 4:18
So my name is top.

Chaowen: 5:14
So I actually get connected with Kiera through comma friend Lucy Loise. And Lucy and I went to school together at CCM when I was doing my doctorate in conducting. No I did my masters there when she did her violin performance, I think she had a minor in connecting. So I know that you to develop some programs for strings. And I saw that you have served as the string director for the International Opera performing experience festival in Italy. So could you talk to us about the experience? And what would a string director do?

Kira: 5:51
Sure. And that’s a good question. And thank you for sharing that because a shout out to Lucy I guess of Lucy’s listening because it’s great to, to meet I think new people right to make new connections through our current ones because because the the world is so small, you know, it’s really nice to meet musicians from all over the world. So thank you for this opportunity to be connecting. And Lucy and I met just a side story, Lucy and I met at the University of Iowa where I was doing my, my DMA orchestral conducting, and Lucy was studying violin, and to this day where we’re, you know, collaborators, and we find ways to connect and are still dear friends. So a little bit about what a director does, especially with international programs. So a couple summers ago, I was invited through my opera colleague, Mark Thompson. And Mark Mark runs a opera program in Italy, called the international opera performance experience or otherwise known as IOP. It’s a festival and market della ser Mataro. And Italy, about middle of Italy. And it’s located in a beautiful kind of medieval village. And, and so I was invited to serve as a string director to, to kind of think about the vision of the program, but also a lot of organization. And I think that’s really an important skill to to learn and to gain and skills that I’ve seen that are more, like needed from conductors is administrative, you know, Are you good with organization with communication, also emails, you know, like technology communication, I feel like that’s a really important skill and a lot of skills that I learned by directing that program. So being a director, our programs such as that, it’s a lot of just overseeing a lot of overseeing and communication with the students. So communicating with them, I would have meetings with the students, District students, before we even left to kind of talk about pre departure safety, you know, just a lot of things that is actually non music related, you know, like how to get your passport and what you need to pack with you. But things that are still important for safe travel, especially abroad. Another aspect of my duties as a string director was to think about the vision of the programs. So the goals and this program was to a program that that I helped out with, and so think about the outcomes of the program, you know, what is what is doable? What can we do in a week, you know, in two weeks and all that and, and what would I like, the students to experience you know, so thinking about the student perspective, their experience, the outcomes, you know, what types of music can we perform, who are we performing to, and then also organizing the schedule. So thinking about the rehearsal schedule and thinking about another thing to consider when we’re abroad is thinking about the quiet times because in Italy, they had were studying they had mandatory quiet times, you know, in the afternoon so that the business is usually closed, right? People go home and with their families take a break all that so we had to be really, I think, mindful of, of the culture and what what the traditions are in that city and not just be, you know, just do whatever we want, because we are guests at that program. And it’s just emphasizing that to the students. So thinking about scheduling, rehearsing, but also when when the when the scheduled breaks throughout the day so that the students can also go out into the village, they can go meet with locals, they can experience shopping at the nearby you know, supermarket and so so that the students gain an immersive experience Yeah, it’s a musical experience, but it’s also a cultural experience for the students so a lot of is just organizing communication. And then also being I think just being flexible with the space because when you’re going to a town or a city that you’ve never been to, we recommended that students bring their own wire stands just to be safe. So a tip out there if you ever traveling on your own and you need you know, pop up place to practice to to bring your own wire stand to have music also available electric Tronic form just in case if you lose paper copies or, or if your battery runs out in the middle of a rehearsal on your iPad or whatever you’re using to also have a paper backup copy. So we made sure to have, I think, always a plan a second plan. So thinking about flexibility with space, realizing that the space sometimes are going to be a little bit smaller, you know, we’re sharing rooms, and we’re sharing, we’re sharing buildings with the, with the community and is not just for us. But also just just, you know, keeping everyone I think in the loop keeping everyone up to date, so they so the students know what to expect, but also so they feel safe. So a lot of times my communications were on group chat, you know, we’re doing making sure they get the daily schedule, making sure that we are meeting we meet often for dinner, you know, after everything, and we meet and chat and just about the day and, and also just about what they’ve learned and how their days going and just kind of a nice way to just connect with familiar people at the end of every day. So yes, conducting Yes, that was part of it, you know, conducting the group and but also I gave individual lessons. So string lessons on their various instruments, we did chamber groups, you know, duets, and I also provided individual mentorship session. So a lot of times, those are my favorite because we just go sit at a coffee shop in the afternoon. And nearby in the beautiful city, we just, you know, talk about either conducting, you know, there are a couple students who are really interested in conducting or I call it the professional development chats, you know, we just talked about, you know, how do you prepare for an interview? How do you prepare for an audition? Or what, what kind of materials would you want in your, in your portfolio in your application package. So, those I enjoyed those, those chats, you know, outside of kind of the rehearsal room where you could just, you know, they could just ask questions about life and ask questions about how do I put together a CV, what needs to be the CV So, and again, and again, just also giving them the time to experience the culture experience of food, right, that’s important, and also experience just one another company and also mean the locals. So when we had our final performances, also, kind of scheduling times where where they could do, let’s say, like a mock run through or a mock performance, we had it like out in the middle of the village, you know, in the street in the main center, so that they had, I think that experience of playing for strangers, you know, people walking by strangers walk by who hear the music and think it’s a it’s a concert or attendee, but you know, just how just gave you those experiences of playing and playing in front of crowds and building up confidence. So those were just a few, I think a few elements of being a director, because it is such a, I guess, a title that can mean so many things, but as often, you know, people are looking up to you or people looking at you, as a leader, as a one who’s organizing the one that kind of make sure everyone is on the same page and know knows what’s expected and feel safe.

Chaowen: 13:03
Yeah, I think what you were talking about is so important, especially now it’s a different era for conductors, that you’re very often engaged to to conducting performance, but people expect you to know a lot more in order to be able to manage a lot more than just rehearsing for example, if you can help the library and find where the parts are, can you provide Boeing’s if they are stuck, and also like you said about space and schedule, respecting different cultural and how do you management your rehearsal, when they are momentary quiet time for example, or when the stage is not big enough for what you had planned, you have to use different stands, you have to cut a few percussion instruments, all that kind of things, and experience of learning. And the more you know, about how to run an organization and how to, as you say it, help everybody to be become their best and still feel safe and being like respected and trusted and a problem it’s super important. So I didn’t get to ask that. Are you a violinist? Or like

Kira: 14:15
Yes. Oh, yes. Are their instruments violin and also voice growing up? Those are my main Wow.

Chaowen: 14:24
So you know, still, do you also teach string lessons or string method class outside of conducting or like what are the duties with your teaching position?

Kira: 14:35
Sure. So at Laurier so so first of all, I’m I’m a violinist and vocalist and I feel like it’s very important to keep up those instruments you know, in some shape or form. And so I’ll be constantly seeing you know, in rehearsals but with violin I do teach on the side. Right now with the benefits of zoom and with online presence and everything I’m able to teach students long distance, you know, students I’ve had before on on Zoom So at Laurier, my role is the conductor of the symphony orchestra, but also the director, you know, I feel like director conductor kind of goes hand in hand. Because you’re, you’re the one with kind of the vision, right, the one organizing with the vision, organizing programs, and concerts, all that, but also seeing the big goals of the orchestra. So that’s my primary role at Loray here. And I also teach classes such as right now teaching orchestral literature, so a history class, and I also teach conducting classes.

Chaowen: 15:34
So I’m glad that you brought the topic about COVID. Because when everything shut down, I know a lot of the colleagues went into teaching virtual orchestra for a semester or a whole year. And I also heard a lot of programs were cut down to strings only because there used to be a lot of concerns about when players blowing air into their instrument. And I heard from some colleagues who were not as familiar with string ensembles having to come up with some repertory or have to teach strings that itself, it’s hard enough also via resume, so can you maybe share some tips? Or what or maybe even some challenges that you’re seeing, particularly for this dynamic here, or even beyond, kind of, in general, when you’re working with strings, what are some good things to do or the don’ts? Yeah, so

Kira: 16:30
I think some tips for, for how to work with strings, right? Like a string ensemble, or even strings in your orchestra, perhaps from a perspective, from someone who is maybe not as comfortable with strings. So, so non string play, I would call them like a non string player, right tips for not plays. And I think this kind of goes with back with my idea are back tying this thought to my experience, Italy, you know, like trying to plan and manage for, for who knows, you know, you’re thinking about the future, like, I don’t know what to expect. So in a way you try to expect and prepare for everything. But I think the the one lesson I learned from Italy in the same tip I would suggest for non string players is that there are plenty of people who want to help you. You know, and I think that’s the, that’s the beautiful beauty about being a musician is that you’re surrounded by colleagues. I mean, it might not be obvious, you know, I’m thinking, Okay, I’m the only Symphony Orchestra person in my school, but you you have musician colleagues in the community. And I know that just by asking questions, you know, like preparing for Italy, and like, what are the rooms like and what is this like just asking questions to my peers and to staff support and everything, like just knowing that you’re not alone, I think is really, really just important to remember and I don’t know about you which I went but during the pandemic last year, because we are online the whole year, for for ensembles for classes last year, at times, I did feel alone, you know, a lot more alone than I was used to, because conducting and let’s face it, orchestra at ensembles is a social event. I mean, we love being there. I love being there, because of the people, you know, and the musicians. And it’s it’s a social that we feed off of each other’s energy. And then there are times last year, yes, even though we had ensembles, online, like we did everything on Zoom, and jammies and everything, it was still I just still felt alone at times, because you’re staring at one screen. And you’re trying to connect, you know, over the internet, or the lack of internet and over Ethernet, everything. And so I found that how I was conducting change, you know, because I wasn’t in a large room full of people I was instead conducting to this small screen, you know, which it affects your conducting, right. So to me, I felt like I was conducting for a different purpose. But even though everything was online, I still felt that who I was, as a teacher, did it change. And I think that’s kind of the the light out of the pandemic, is that yes, it challenged me as a teacher, it made me think about my role. My purpose, it made me think about how can I engage my students online? How can I be there? How can I be a better teacher? Right? If anything is I think, is maybe a stronger teacher, and maybe hopefully more creative in the long run. So yes, even though you know, ideally, no one wanted to experience the pandemic. I think there are lots of things that we learn from the pandemic and some of those

Kira: 19:34
some of the aspects from what I’ve used teaching online last year, teaching remote I’ve kept this year, you know, for example, bringing in guest virtually right and using technology, like I’m using technology more now and orchestra than I had before. So I think just number one tip will I’ll go on, I promise and I think the number one tip for non string players when you’re working with a group of strangers are strings in your orchestra is to know that you’re not alone is that you know, plenty of help, and that you’re not the first one to feel like this, and you won’t be the last one to feel like this. I think it’s just, you know, just, it’s just how we are, I think as conductors, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect or to be like an expert at everything. And I think just knowing that, as a conductor as a leader of ensemble, right, our role is to that is to bring the sounds together is that we are experts on the collective sound. And that, that, yes, it’s yes, we want to be experts on everything, but it’s just almost impossible. You know, think about you can’t be an expert on everything who has that much time, but knowing that there are people that you can go to and that as a conductor, as a director that we are there because people trust us to be good musicians, you know, we like trust yourselves, I think trust yourself to be a good musician, you have good ears. And in that and to trust your players as well. So if you have some advanced players in your in your group, these would be some of the suggestions I would I would share is that yeah, like talk to your sexual leaders talk to your principal players, you know, have them help out with Boeing’s have them demonstrate, you know, what you want good sounds all that. So yeah, I’ll go to your section players, you can also talk to your fellow string colleagues. So either directly if you’re working in a academic university, like ourselves, you can talk to your stream colleagues, you can, or if not, you can talk to strings in the community or, you know, some string players in the area. And, and, and have them be, you know, have them help out with sectionals. I think one thing I learned as a younger conductor was just like the value of having sectionals, you know, even if they weren’t in didn’t occur during the scheduled rehearsal, you know, having the sectionals outside of our soul, like we would have in the past, I would have like a string section on once a week, you know, where I just work with the strings. And that way, in a way, it benefited the strings, you know, working on bogeys and kind of things that they that the strings really needed time to do. You know, so it didn’t take away from the full tutti rehearsal. But also, in a way it kept my ears, ears out, you know, it kept it kept me in shape orally to be able to be like, Oh, okay, we work on this sound, this sound. Because for me, I mean, for me, the string sound is so important. When it comes to a symphony orchestra. I just love the strings. I mean, they’re near and dear to my heart, but it’s just you know, something about the string sound, that’s what makes this a funny orchestra is that there has to be strings involved, you know, it’s a completely different ensemble, there’s not. So I think to see the importance of string sound, but, but knowing knowing that to trust yourself as a musician, and of course, we can always all grow and learn techniques on the different instruments, you can take, you know, workshops, there’s lots of wonderful master classes. I mean, they’re the list goes on and on, right. And there’s also lots of string. A lot of a lot of string references out there like you can go to America, Asda right American string teachers association, you can go to local workshops that are being held in your area, regional ones, and with technology, a lot of them are gonna be offered online. So just going and participating and observing that can be helpful. Another tip would be to, to observe a lesson you know, like it like take a lesson yourself? Yes, like that would be number one, if you haven’t taken a lesson on on a violin or Viola cello bass is to get your hands on instrument, take a lesson with someone who plays that instrument so that at least you get you get that experience of feeling what it feels like, you know, like feeling like how awkward it is to bow or how awkward it is to do this or this position but at least just experiencing the basics, you know? And of course, like course probably all these tips have been shared before because this is like an ideal situation you know, like you have endless time you have endless financial aid all this stuff, you know, and we realize that not everyone has that at their readily so but I think just knowing that, you know, if you ask a colleague Hey, can I sit on a lesson that you’re teaching you know, just to kind of hear and see how you teach or just see what goes into technique and and again, there are lots and lots of resources out there but to compute continue on with my tips if you don’t mind is yours, we’d love

Kira: 24:31
to Yes, I think some suggestions for like when you’re rehearsing or if you don’t feel comfortable like saying specific string terms, you know, because we realize like I realized there’s a lot of terms like a lot of string terms that are sometimes when I talk about terms and orchestra see the winds and the brass percussion faces just like glaze over like what is the ship day and Ricochet and picks account you know, this, all these terms, but knowing but I think, even if you’re not comfortable with the term So with the with the bones and everything you can always see, I think that’s fundamental is is as, as a conductor, as a human being, we’re all born with with a voice, you know, and who remembers taking skills class or musicianship class, like in college, like we all did, you know, so, so using those skills to our benefit, so I don’t think I could stress the importance of modeling. Like you know, the sound you want you maybe we don’t know the exact words or bow bow a bow, but if you know the sound you want, like, create that sound, model it for them. And just, that’s the educational Tip Two is seeing the phrase, seeing what you would like. And a lot of times if you sing it the way you want, or even bringing your own instrument that you play with you, so even if you’re, let’s say, a saxophonist, and you’re working with strings, it’s okay to model what you want on the saxophone, you know, because the idea of how breathing right the idea of breathing with the wind and brass instrument that’s kind of convey to the bow the use of the bow, which is often for strings, our air, it’s our, it’s our every Rata bow, we run out of sound, right, we run out of air, and so there, but I think it’s just universal that everyone can at least seeing their part, you know, and asking them asking the strings the same back to you know, that’s a, that’s, that’s fine to do. Because oftentimes, you’ll be seeing it, you’ll know what you want, or you’ll, it’ll become, I think, more apparent what you want phrase wise. So don’t be afraid to use your voice. Like, a lot of times I’m at my rehearsals I make like nonsense sounds, you know, nonsense syllables, you know, words that don’t exist like that, you know, like, the articulation is like, what am I looking like? I’m not a walkie you know, I’m not like a, you know, a crazy, crazy animal. But I think just sometimes sounds the, for me sounds convey more than just worked, you know, because if I say strings, let’s get more of a QA costs out what does that mean for articulation. And oftentimes, if you model for the strings, what you want, or at least for your section leaders, you know, or you talk to your concert master, like, Okay, this moment needs to have this kind of sound, you know, express the sound and a lot of times you trust your sexual leaders, your leaders, your advanced players, to know how to get that sound in, in their bowing in the articulation. And if it’s not, right, or if it’s close, be like, you can tell them be honest, be like, Okay, that’s, that’s close, you know, how can we get more like this? You know, can we get it more legato? Or more shorter, you know, so just knowing that the universal language, yes, it is music, but I think also sound, you know, universal language is sounds, you know, and what kind of sound do you want either if it’s Dolce or marcato or added Tato. So, not being afraid to sing, sing for them or seeing at them a lot of times I do that don’t even realize it. And I think that kind of goes on with, sorry, a side note, like almost like a rehearsal technique, because I didn’t realize I do realize that I think earlier on in my conducting days, I would just like, first of all, I was so nervous, I didn’t talk at all. And then later in my career, I was explaining too much right, like feeling it feeling fine feeling that I had to like over explain or over clarify. And then, but as but that was a young conductor to my training is like, Okay, well, then let’s see how much I can do without saying anything. And then nowadays, I think I’ve finally am approaching a balance. Of course, I’m still evolving as a conductor as a human being, I hope to for the rest of my life. But I think just but now find that balance of oh, well, sometimes I don’t have to stop and explain. You know, things are rehearsing sometimes I’ll just stop and be like, brass more like this could make the sound I do that and boom, and they change it, you know, so sometimes I’m finding I think, more efficient ways to rehearse and more efficient ways to communicate from the quality of sound quality of sound, if that makes sense. So

Kira: 29:01
I think other your other tips that I’ve shared Yeah, take lessons if you can, I talked to so many educators around the world about this and everyone everyone wants to take lessons you know, everyone wants workshops, they want that but then summer comes and it’s like, we’re all so busy, right? rather busy all summer, or we need that summer time or we need that off time to to recuperate, which I would also stress like is so important for a musician for conductor is to recuperate you know, to recharge your battery. But But finding you know, finding time like when is the best time to take a lesson here or there maybe allowing your summers or your off time to actually be off time, you know, where you don’t do any professional development. Like take that pressure off you off. You just enjoy your summer like enjoy your vacation, y’all. But then But then finding time throughout the year perhaps you know when you’re

Kira: 29:59
Shakaal Like, intellectually stimulated already, you know, so you’re just like, hey, I’m on a roll this week, hey, I could squeeze in a 30 minute just to go sit in a lesson I’m going to be on, I’m going to be in the building anyway, you know, I’m going to be in the work environment where I’m going to be. So I’m just going to pop in and ask my colleagues to sit on a 20 minute lesson, you know, like, do it with thing do it when when you’re in the mood, and when you’re ready, you’re ready to go instead of I think, I don’t know, this is just for me, like when I schedule something. A month later, I think oh, yes, it’s gonna be great. And then the month comes and I realize how busy I am like, Why did I do that? Or, or sometimes you look at a a week in your calendar, you’re like, oh, I have nothing here. I can do it there. But who knows? When that week comes? Maybe you need that week actually off? Yeah, so just I think just you know, when it’s you just go Go and take, take a lesson. Go sit in Go. Instead of not flexing? What do you mean? No, whatsoever. Masterful. What’s the masterclasses on on YouTube or something from some of the greats? And maybe you can, I don’t know, maybe that’s more like a self discipline, self reward is okay, before I watch the next season of Game of Thrones or whatever, you know, before I started this show, every time I get on Netflix, I’m going to watch this the 15 Minute, short, masterclass series, you know, just kind of scheduling in. So that was also keeping that up. Yeah. So other tips, you’re asking your colleagues come and sit in to help out sectionals, they can leave sectionals? You know, I’m very grateful for my stream colleagues here. You know, just to you know, they they’re so great with the students. But not only are my stream colleagues like helping with sectionals and helping with Boeing’s on that all that but they’re demonstrating they’re demonstrating and teaching the students what good leadership is, you know, like how to run a sectional. What do you listen to when you’re leading a sectional, so then by students experiencing that, and seeing, you know, their instructors doing that they take some of those skills and learn to learn about leadership skills as well. So yeah, so sitting in observing sectionals, seeing seeing what’s being focused on sectionals. I think the big question about Boeing? I don’t know about you Chatwin. But law, I’ve seen kind of the idea of Boeing’s scare conductors, you know, and the idea of Boeing Yes. Boeing’s are important. And I think it almost depends on the level of ensemble you’re working with, you know, like meaning like, Can they do can they can they do their own Boeing’s you know, you ask yourself that question first can they do their own goings? And if the questions Yes, like, they know what a downvote looks like and oppo and all that, then then let the let them do their own goings, you know, like, let them experience trial and error, you know, to see not instead of just giving them the Boeing like this is why why this is this is my idea, because it could change, like letting your section section leaders be in charge of Boeing’s and if they have questions to run them by you, you know, I try to have open communication with my students and be like, if you have questions let me know about Boeing’s probably outside of class, you know, just so it doesn’t take up rehearsal time, you know, or it’s all about Boeing’s because that could take forever, but just allowing like section leaders for the strings to experience Boeing’s to experience what is that critical thinking right like decision making process and realizing that okay, yes, this is the way that I envision the bones but then having that conversation with their fellow principal players might open up another idea or concept or make them question Oh, perhaps this bodes better you know, it’s so interesting because a lot of in my experience, you know, people want the bones first you know, so important and we have to have the bones and I just want to be like well, you can play this without bones he didn’t do what comes naturally Right. Like follow your instincts, follow your gut follow the music, right? That’s most important. So I would so the question is no, they can’t do their own Boeing’s because they don’t understand Boeing’s then yes, I would think like as a as a conductor and director it is your responsibility to help them learn about Boeing’s not do it for them, right that’s another side but not do the bones for them, but help them you can have you know, in warm ups or something you’ve been talking about Boeing’s like hey, let’s do a scale starting down bow. Okay, now let’s try it up bow what are the differences were the challenges how does it change the sound? How does it change the ensemble right? Collective sound collective interest is all that so letting them explore Boeing’s and not being afraid to try I think something a new way or a different way, even in warm ups. And then but I guess for me personally like Boeing’s for me always need to be flexible. You know? Because it depends on Yes, a level of the group. That also depends on the space. I’m not gonna lie. Boeing’s in one space might work, you know, to end to do something all down up, down up as it comes might work in one space. But then when you get to another hall, perhaps you have to change it up going right. Just kind of thinking about so I guess last Short. For me, it’s all it’s all about the sound, you know, and the sound, the quality of sound should never be sacrifice for for everyone trying to look like they’re exactly together with a Boeing, because there are times where there are times where you want the sound to be sustained, you know, you want this, or if the strings have four bars of whole notes, you know, they can’t all be like, down, up, down, up or anything, like perhaps you want it to be more freebo, where it changes the sound where you hear the sound kind of webbing in and out there. So I would say you know,

Kira: 35:34
you know, be flexible with bowing, if you’re comfortable with that. But if but I would recommend, like, do what’s best for you, as a as a conductor, like what you’re most comfortable with? Because I’m sure in my experience, I realized that my experience might be different than others. So like, do what you’re comfortable with. If you’re one of those conductors, like yes, I want to have my bullies exactly my parts and everything I be like, good, good on you. Yeah, that’s excellent. But then just be flexible in case of the ensemble you’re working with, you know, or if you’re a guest conductor in the ensemble, you’re working in hats, different, right? Hats, different parts, or different going. So it’s always great to think about the boys you want. Ideally, no, I put boys in my score. Yeah, just in my score, I don’t put them in parts, but just kind of in my score. And if the bones change, you know, I write like, maybe, for example, my score Boeing, and then I write, like, the date in the ensemble that I worked with, that I did that experience. So then when I do, let’s say, another Tchaikovsky symphony or something with another group, and they’re doing a different kind of bowing are these bones are from this right tradition, or that then I write the changes underneath it, and then write what that is just so I know, like, the, the the level, right, the level of the ensemble I’m working with, um, but yeah, I would just say like, do what’s best for you, what works best for you, and what works best for your ensemble? And I hope that’s the purpose of these conversations, these tips is just to take a gleam of what do I like here? What can I use, but also like realizing that some ideas, you know, you don’t have to use you know, if you’re, if you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, and it works for you and your group? That’s all that matters? Is that is that there’s a I think everyone’s that you’re comfortable, right?

Chaowen: 37:16
Yeah, with one thing? I do want to echo what you said is sometimes I see contractors not as secure or competent in the street knowledge, they will feel that changing Boeing that is the fix for everything. They say, the sun is that right here? Why don’t you change the Boeing? Why don’t you up tech, you go down and try. But actually, it was like Kira said, really go for the sound. And if you’re not sure, you can always ask your players can you play like, when when a player asked you is off string, or on the string, if you didn’t know what the difference where you can say, Can I hear it? Can you play off and to play and then if you say, Oh, the the other one sounds better with this group. And then, as Kara said, I can’t emphasize that I can agree with it more. But when really changes from group to group, for some group, if you also, also the number of players matter to sometimes you need more sound, they need to change photos more often. Or when you have a different type of group, a different type of hole that is mushy, or it’s very dry, then you need more resonance, you want to be able to be flexible, and really, to serve the music and the sound, instead of being so fixed on this point has to be perfect. And say, as it was written, and

Kira: 38:39
yeah, and those are great. And I appreciate that because I think, I think any musician, like even me, like, we don’t want to be micromanaged. You know, like, we don’t want people telling us like conduct doubt and then right and then let you know, like, in a way, in a way, you know, so Exactly, I mean, the strings, the beauty about string playing is that it’s very physical, you can see what’s going on. And so if you see the rain on a bow, the chances are the sound is gonna disappear. The air is gonna disappear, right? If you see that they’re using so much though all the time in in the lower part of the bow. You know, just listen to the sound. It’s gonna be probably loud and probably harsh at times, you know, so just, yeah, just, you know, I like that. I like the idea Chatwin of saying, if you’re not sure, let’s try it this way. Okay, let’s play a game. You can make it a game for your for your group. Let’s try it this way. Okay, let’s try it that way. And then also getting your players engaged, like okay, who votes for number one, like getting your brass on when players like actually listening and paying attention to this? I can’t stress it. Enough, you know, and also cross listening is is not just about what you’re doing, but how does it affect the whole ensemble, you know, the orchestra and

Chaowen: 39:48
yeah, thank you so much, Kara. And I wanted to have just one last question. If my listeners want to get in touch with you, where can they find you? Oh, sure. So find me

Kira: 39:59
on Facebook. I think I’m a bit old school. So I find me on Facebook. But also, you know, I have a email as well a website so you can find me, kiraconductor.com. And I have a Gmail. So if you have questions or any follow up thoughts, I’d love to open up more conversations and meet more conductors around the world. So feel free to email me. And also find me online on Facebook. So thank you so much for the invitation, Chaowen.

Chaowen: 40:27
Thank you. And we’ll put the link on the show notes so you won’t miss it. Thank you so much, Kara. Thank you, everyone. So here you have it, my friend. What I liked the most about today’s interview is that what Kara said could actually apply to a lot of other things in life, on how we deal with unfamiliar things, or have to expand our knowledge and skill set into unknown territory. Not many people know that I actually conducted a wind band for five years when I first started my job at Georgia Tech. Because my predecessor was a band director who took over the orchestra when a previous director felt you’ll love the position. This was advertised as a joint band slash orchestra position. And I almost didn’t apply for it. Because I didn’t think that I was qualified with limited Wind Ensemble experienced. However, I won the job and started conducting both orchestra and band. And I did exactly what Kira shared today. Learn as much as you can and find resources for yourself. Reach out to colleagues who are band directors, or even composers writing for wings, watch rehearsals to learn tapes of working with students, and focused on musicality and musical element and rehearsal.

Rather than worrying about teaching students how to make the sounds, which fingerings to use, or how to adjust amateurs, for example, I learned to encourage better breath support, and to focus your airflow and to find better places for taking the breath, which was all new to me as a string player. In the end, I told myself that I’m a good musician, and I know enough about music to support my ensemble. And that’s all that matters. Next week, we will be talking about something that is a bit dry, but less explored amongst conductors and musicians. Since I will be sharing with you what is 501 C three, and why it matters. It’s really important to understand the legal and financial structures of American nonprofit organizations to better know how to run it and to serve your people. Right. So as always, if you’re liking the show, I’d love to I love to encourage you to leave a review on Apple podcast, perhaps borrow a friend’s iPhone if you don’t own a Mac product. Apple podcast is the only platform taking listeners reviews into the ranking of the shows and your support is much appreciated. I will see you next week at the same time, same place. Bye for now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai