#1: Getting Around Town
KSO ensemble members log many miles playing in the Knox County schools and care facilities, and take pride in their knowledge of Knoxvilles’ sometimes vexing roads. I spent many Septembers playing in a quartet at every school there was, and some of them are pretty far-flung. New Hopewell, Gibbs and Corryton; all the way to Mount Olive, Karnes and Copper Ridge. Need an alternative route to just about anywhere in the 9-county area and beyond? Ask a core string player, but hey, give the new members just a few months to get their bearings. If you ask one of us old-timers, terms such as “where the Weigel’s used to be” will creep into our directions.
#2: Handling With Care
Every musician has an instrument in his hand that is worth anywhere from $500 to 6-½ or more figures. (No, the chime mallet is not worth $500. But the chimes? Forget it). It isn’t about the money that an instrument is worth, rather its value. Even a wedding band or a sweatshirt zipper can inflict harm on a string instrument. Harps and basses pose king-size challenges; just carrying a bass is a craft. Until we have children, we have instruments from which to learn a gentle touch.
#3: Being Quiet
This sort of derives from the previous skill. Silence is a really important part of music. Granted, tight ensemble playing is a fine trait in an orchestra, but each player knows that a rest means shut up. The ability to honor silence and count rests quietly is a sine qua non for all of us. Wind and percussion players have the added challenge of changing instruments; plenty of opportunities for sonic violation there. A chime mallet makes an interesting but perhaps unwelcome sound when dropped on a suspended cymbal, and horn parts have a distinct report when dropped. Rests are a welcome sight in a long show, but that doesn’t give a us license to open a bag of skittles or clip his nails. A musician can be counted on not to wake your kid up.