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edu180atl: max silbiger 12.6.11

High school music politics are serious business, y’all. Hearts get broken.

The string orchestra has a long-running unspoken passive-aggressive rivalry with the brass/woodwind band due to differences in genre, workload, and perceived prestige. Just think of any arguments you’ve seen between a classical music fan and a Top 40 pop music fan – you’ll understand why the orchestra and band don’t get along.

The orchestra was recently tacked onto the band’s in-school performance in assembly. The band would play its own selections, we’d play ours, and then we’d combine to play ‘Sleigh Ride.’

I’m the second-chair cellist in the orchestra. We had just finished our fall concert repertoire; we spent three months perfecting four pieces. In an awfully quick turnaround, the day after, our conductor informed us we’d need to learn four new pieces in two weeks!

The two strings-only pieces were considerably difficult on their own, and the band’s pieces were in key signatures familiar to the band but requiring absurd fingerboard acrobatics on the part of us string-players.

Onstage today, I hadn’t realized I had walked into a trap. The band’s selections were all refined, with four months of familiarity painfully, painfully obvious. As we entered, we were squeaky and pitiful in comparison – the band’s bombast placed our works-in-progress in a context of shame.

Were we just objectively terrible? Maybe – word around the street is, the band brought us onstage just to outshine us!

Whatever happened to music being about collaboration?

Max Silbiger (@dat__max) is a student in the 12th grade at The Lovett School, soon to attend St. John’sCollege. He searches fruitlessly for a way to reconcile his two loves: Latin and metal.

Photo: cc licensed flickr photo shared by Brandon Giesbrecht

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hey Max! Sorry you had that experience, as I enjoyed playing (violin) with the woodwinds in high school. The important thing is that you all (orchestra members) were able to adjust midstream by learning four new pieces. Yes, it was short notice but I am sure you guys played beautifully!

    December 6, 2011

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