Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where does the Orchestra rehearse?

The orchestra’s main rehearsal venue is at McCulloch Auditorium on Level 2 of Pratt Hall. Built in 1909, the Pratt Memorial Music Hall was named for the parents of Ella Pratt Houghton (class of 1867). In 1967, it was remodeled and the Hammond Wing, named for MHC faculty member William Churchill Hammond, was added. Named in honor of Dorothy Rooke McCulloch '50 and her husband Sandy, the Auditorium was renovated in 2000 and is frequently used to present concerts, chamber recitals and jazz concerts.

The auditorium is open one half hour prior to rehearsal for warm-up. In recognition of our extremely busy schedules, food and drink is allowed in the hall during rehearsals. However, in order to minimise discomfort to all who share the space with us, we request that everyone is extremely careful with any food and beverages they bring into the space. And that they refrain from bringing strong-smelling items as this might be unpleasant for others in the room.  

Kindly refrain from putting anything on top of pianos. Spilled-drinks often ruin perfectly fine instruments, and cases and bags often cause preventable scratches on the surfaces of the pianos.

Brass players are asked to use the plastic trays provided by the orchestras to empty the condensation from their instruments to preserve the beautiful flooring in the hall. In addition, cello and double bass players are requested to use endpin holders, boards or straps.

How much are the dues that the Orchestra collects? And why does the orchestra have them?

The orchestra collects dues of $10 each semester. These dues are used to pay for miscellaneous items like food during breaks, retreats, and for the annual dinner. Dues are to be paid to the Treasurer in a timely fashion. Any students on financial aid, needing assistance with these dues should speak to the Director, Tian Hui Ng.

How do we get hold of music from the Orchestra Library?

The orchestra aims to have music and practice parts ready at least ten days prior to the first rehearsal. Folders and practice parts may be signed out from the Orchestra Librarian 15 minutes before any scheduled rehearsal. Winds, Brass, Percussion, Harp and Keyboard players may sign out her or his own folder. For String players, the outside stand players may sign out folders, while Inside stand players can sign out a set a practice parts.

Once signed out, the folder and all its contents are entirely the player’s responsibility. After each rehearsal, a librarian will collect any folders left on stands and distribute them 30 minutes prior to the next rehearsal. While the folders should be safe, they and their contents remain the responsibility of the player using them.

In the event that the folder or any piece of music is lost, you will be charged by the Orchestra Library for the cost of replacing the part. 

If you are absent and have arranged for another player to cover for you, you must ensure that your folder and the music it contains are present at rehearsal. Do not assume that the Performance Library holds extra copies of your part.

Only use pencil, preferably 2B or lighter to mark parts. Do not scribble, mark with pen or colored pencil, tape, glue, staple or cut up parts. Practice parts may be unbound but must be turned in after use.

At the end of a concert, leave your folder and the music it contains on your seat at the end of the last performance. Do not take the folder with you after the performance. This permits the librarians to take stock and arrange for all music to be returned to the College library. Practice parts should also be left on the seat or returned as soon as possible to the Music Department Office after the concert in order not to incur a fine.

Your part is considered late if folders are not left onstage after the final performance and practice parts are not returned by the Monday following the performance. At this point, fees will begin to accrue.

How does the director of the orchestra determine seating and rotations?

The following criteria are used to determine seating with the orchestra throughout the semester:

1.    Student’s audition score
2.    Faculty’s ranking of the repertoire and specific parts programmed that semester
3.    The number of orchestral students in the student’s instrument group
4.    The number of available parts for that instrument group
5.    The level of performance experience of the student

Seating assignments and rehearsal information are posted on the Orchestra Board on the 2nd Floor outside the Music Department Office. Please check your seating assignment. Any change of seating is at the discretion of the conductor of the conductor.

String principals are assigned at the beginning of each semester. Principal players may be asked to lead sectionals as necessary throughout the semester.

I play a large instrument, is there anywhere I can store my instrument?

All players in the orchestra are eligible to apply to the Music Department for a locker in Pratt Hall to store their instruments. Priority for large lockers will first be given to players of large instruments such as the Cello, Double Bass, Tuba and Trombone. Thereafter, lockers are issued on a first come first served basis to students registered for individual performance study, chamber music, orchestra and jazz ensemble. All students who use a locker are required to complete a Locker Release Form which basically absolves the college of any responsibility for the instruments despite their being stored on college grounds. Please see Michele Scanlon in the Music Office for the necessary forms.

Are there spaces available to orchestra members for personal practice?

Practice Rooms are located in Pratt Hall on Level 1 and the Lower Level. These can be reserved for individual practice by signing up for the spaces on the sign-up sheets posted on the noticeboards next to each practice room. Reservations for larger rooms such as the Warbeke Room for sectionals and chamber music should be done through Michele Scanlon in the Music Office.

I have always played varsity sports, how can I balance these commitments with being in orchestra?

The orchestra typically has about 5 - 10 sportswomen in each year. We have amiable relations with our colleagues who lead the various varsity teams and work out accommodations on both sides, so that our musical sportswomen can balance their time commitments on both sides. Often, this means the teams will make exceptions for dress rehearsals and performance, and the orchestra makes exceptions for games and allowing some leeway for additional training sessions during peak periods for the teams. As most sports have a defined season, this often means that students are not similarly taxed in both terms or indeed for the duration of each term.

What if I have been assigned to play the Eb Clarinet, A Clarinet or Piccolo and I don't have the instrument?

The college owns a flute, Eb Clarinet, two A Clarinets and a Piccolo that can be borrowed by students in the orchestra. You will need to have a faculty member with you when you check out the instrument.