How to talk to an orchestra during rehearsal

By Gianmaria Griglio

Know the score


The best tool you have at your disposal is your preparation: put the score in your head, know it deeply, and never, ever be unprepared. Rehearsal time is precious and is becoming less and less with years: the more you can articulate the music with the baton, the less you have to stop and talk.

Clear instructions


Most of the instructions can be given to an orchestra with very few words: shorter longer louder softer diminuendo crescendo etc.

Avoid lectures


a bit might be fine, and sometimes they will ask you questions on the history of the piece or if it’s an opera on what’s happening on stage, which is perfectly ok of course.  If you start your rehearsal with 15 minutes of historical background most of the players will go to sleep. They want to play.



When you stop the orchestra make sure you do it with a precise intent in mind: what are you going to correct? rhythmic problem? intonation? phrasing? balance?  Be specific.



When you come to rehearse, have a plan of what to rehearse: if it’s the second rehearsal make notes and give them to the players before you begin rehearsing. 



Mistakes happen. Be respectful, there is no need to put down a person or humiliate them in front of everyone. And when you make a mistake – which will happen – apologize to the players and carry on. Do not blame them if the fault is yours.



Generally speaking, be positive, be concise and most of all, have fun!