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A Guide to the Pit Orchestra

A Guide to the Pit Orchestra

By Contributor


LadyLuckytheFlutie is here to tell you the peaks and pits (ha!) of being in the orchestra! —Sparkitors

It's that time of year again: the school musical season. You enjoy music, but you don't like singing, are scared of auditioning, and you don't want to join the crew because you'd probably drop a hammer on your toe. Or blind yourself with the strobe lights. Or cause the fire alarm to go off by doing unspeakable things with the smoke machine. Or whatever. The point is, you adore musicals, and this year, being in the audience will simply NOT cut it. You want to participate.

The answer to your problem is by joining the pit orchestra, that obscure group of shiny-metal-and-reed-toting people! But be warned, although the pit will be the most magical, supercalifragilistic thing you'll ever do, it's also a dangerous place with dangerous people in it. And it smells really bad. So tune your instrument and prepare to learn the advantages and disadvantages of being in the pit!

1.  You need to practice. A lot.
Most of the time, the director (usually the school's head music teacher) will give out the scores to the musicians before rehearsals start. This gives you time to practice your butt off, which you need to do unless you want to fail miserably during your solo and mess up the cast. The truth is that musicals are incredibly difficult for the cast, musicians, and crew. They all rely on each other, so if the pit isn't up to standard, everyone else will screw up too.

2. Pit members get VIP treatment!
Because the cast relies on the music for cues so much, the pit is important! You are actually so important that you kinda-sorta get VIP treatment! You can duel with the cast's foam swords (not like I'm guilty of this...), make out with your clarinet-playing boyfriend in the dressing room, and eat cookies during that 100-measure rest you have in the overture—and no one will yell at you. And, as an added bonus, since you're not actually part of the cast, you can slip out during intermissions and mingle with the audience.

3. But rehearsals are sometimes held late at night…
…which just makes you and your fellow pit members look like zombies the next day. And when your math teacher asks you why you are so sleepy, mumbling "I was playing the glockenspiel at 10 o' clock at night" does not make you seem like you have a social life. Only members of the marching band and string orchestra will sympathize. Unless of course your math teacher is in the pit too. That means she will most likely talk to you about sixteenth notes and how bad the singers in the musical are while the rest of the class is fretting over functions, because…

4.  …Pit members are strange.
Sometimes it just so happens that your teacher is in the pit. If your school is like mine, then the pit is comprised of teachers, their friends (yes, contrary to popular belief, they do have friends), random college kids, and only a few middle- and high-schoolers. If you go to a bigger school, then the chances of the pit having only students in it is higher. The fact is that, regardless of their age, musicians are weird. And if the 1st flute next to you is your music teacher's wife, and the 2nd trumpet behind you is your biology teacher, things will get strange. Very strange. You may be caught doing your bio homework during a tacet, you may witness your teachers making "That's What She Said" jokes, and you may figure out that your trombone-playing friend likes to empty his spit valve on you. Trying bringing THAT up in Biology.

Does being in the Pit Orchestra sound like it's worth it?

Related Post: Why You Should Drop Everything and Join Marching Band

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Topics: Life
Tags: orchestra, bands, high school, school, music, musicals, musicians, instruments

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