Our time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – by : Ayshan Esen, Maria Holton and Rachael Hepburn
Our trip started at 09.00 on Friday 14th September.
Most of the band turned up excluding a couple of trumpets and other students who were already at the conservatoire.
We had been invited to the Royal conservatoire to play for students in 5th and 6th year who were learning how to conduct and run a rehearsal and to give them the opportunity to take a rehearsal in the process to give them some experience.
Our excitement matched our nervousness, but luckily we had practised the piece until we were sick of hearing the repetitive melody stuck in our heads from rehearsals. We gained confidence as we knew that we knew the piece “backwards, forwards and inside out.”
The bus ride to the RCS was an interesting journey but we will leave those details out.
After arriving at the RCS, we were lead to a hall where the senior students were patiently waiting for us, sharing the same nervous look as we did.
We went through a series of warm up working on things like testing our rhythm, beat and time keeping skills.
After we made ourselves familiar with the setup, we were lead through breathing exercises to open our lungs as it was first thing in the morning. This was quite unusual as we never did this at band, but we found the exercises quite enjoyable.
Before starting, as there was not enough of us, we had to fill spaces in the brass and percussion sections. Mr Chinn gave us a short introduction into how to conduct different time signatures E.g 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4.
Then we finally got right into the piece, with our first trainee conductor taking the run through. Our nerves left us as we made it through the first proper run though since the previous Monday, although the same couldn’t be said for the trainee conductors. However, we do think they did a great job as it was their first time conducting a band.
After a couple of run-throughs we were allowed a short break. During this we discussed what we were going over and how we were feeling, now that our nerves had calmed.
After break we split into sectionals and practised for about 45 minutes with the senior students taking turns conducting us. This allowed the senior students to learn how to take a sectional. There were many senior students for the smaller sections such as percussion. Although the senior students got some input from teachers, they worked hard and used the given advice wisely. We then stopped a lunch break. The café was very good and had a wide selection of food and drink to choose from.
After lunch we had a couple more run-throughs of “Celtic Air and Dance” to work on dynamics and finish the piece nicely.
Lastly, we were given the challenge of speed reading the piece “Into the Artic”. To help us with the piece, the senior students joined us where possible, as Mr Chinn took over conducting. Running through the piece was nerve racking but we made it in the end; considering we gave it our best shot. Once we boarded the bus, everyone was feeling relaxed, having really enjoyed their time at the RCS
In the end, we thank the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for presenting us with the opportunity, and if given the chance we would all go back.