2022-23 Musician Handbook: Seating Policies & Part Assignments
“Seating” is what we call the process of choosing where a student sits within their section, and this process varies by each GTCYS orchestra and instrument. Seating decisions are not a ranking of students’ performance or playing ability, but incorporate many factors such as students’ musical preparation, performance, leadership skills, behavior, attendance, and being able to perform in different parts of each section.
String sections in Concertino West and East, Camerata, Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic, and Symphony perform seating auditions at least once a semester. These auditions are not a competition, but allow students to develop important skills used in nearly all musical environments such as attention to detail, focused practice, meeting musical deadlines, and becoming more comfortable performing solo in front of others. GTCYS seating auditions are first and foremost a learning opportunity for students and provide them the opportunity to get feedback from musical professionals.
For each seating audition, students are asked to prepare sections of their current GTCYS music in advance, then play for professional musicians in person during a selected rehearsal. If students are unavoidably absent, they may record a video at home and submit it for the seating judge to review. Each orchestra conductor uses the results of seating auditions to help determine seating for string sections, but conductors have the final decision on seating and reserve the right to change seating at any time during the season for any reason.
It is important to remember that orchestra is a group experience of musicians (rather than soloists) who each play a part in the greater whole. As Maestro Smith says, every GTCYS musician contributes mightily to the success of the orchestra, no matter where they are sitting.
Philharmonia East & West, and Sinfonia East & West
No seating auditions in these levels
- At the beginning of the season, seating and part assignments will be determined by the conductor based on students’ GTCYS placement audition.
- Seating may rotate throughout the year based on students’ progress and repertoire requirements. Violinists may switch between first and second parts during the year and wind instrument part assignments may change. Factors such as behavior and attendance may be taken into consideration.
Concertino East & West, Camerata, Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic, and Symphony
These orchestras conduct seating auditions for string players, generally once in the fall and once in the spring. Auditioning is an important skill and adds to students’ improvement and preparation in GTCYS’ more advanced orchestras. Seating audition dates and details will be determined throughout the year.
- At the beginning of the season, string players will be seated according to their GTCYS placement audition scores.
- Two weeks before each seating audition date (listed on the orchestra’s online calendar), the conductor will announce selected excerpts from the repertoire for string students to prepare. Students will perform their excerpts for a seating audition judge on the specified seating audition date.
- Students who know of a conflict in advance should record a video performance of their excerpts and submit via an online portal to be provided. If a student is absent on the seating audition date due to illness, they will have the opportunity to record their seating audition and submit online within 24 hours. Students who do not send a recording on time and in the correct format will not have the opportunity to be assessed again until the next audition.
- Seating audition judges will assess each student and provide written feedback which the students will receive at the next rehearsal. The conductor will use the judges’ assessments to determine specific seating, and other factors including student behavior may be taken into consideration.
- It is possible that some violinists may switch between first and second parts during the year.
Woodwinds, Brass, and Percussion:
- Initial seating and part assignments will be determined by the conductor based on the GTCYS audition.
- Seating and part assignments may be adjusted by the conductor throughout the year based on students’ progress and repertoire requirements. Factors such as behavior and attendance may be taken into consideration.
- Woodwind, brass, and percussion seating auditions may be scheduled throughout the season at the conductor’s discretion.