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Sturminster Newton Orchestra – Reminders and Guidance Notes


Our Aims


SNO is a community orchestra that provides opportunities for musicians from a very wide spectrum of age and experience to meet together to play an eclectic mix of music and to improve our musicianship.  There are no auditions, but members do need to have a reasonable skill level reading music - e.g. from the equivalent of Grade II or above. 


We have produced these notes so we can all enjoy our experiences at SNO to the full.


The Music  - You Can’t Please Everybody All of the Time !


Our music library has grown significantly both in terms of genres (classical, light jazz, film-scores, folk and contemporary) and number. We have now over 300 pieces available in our repertoire not including albums and collections of pieces.


This gives rise to the challenge  of devising a selection of music each term that enables ‘starters’ to cope with and enjoy and new exciting pieces to push us all to be better players.   We all have our own favourites and pet hates, but all players must be prepared to join in enthusiastically with the pieces that have been carefully selected by our librarian and conductors.


For the more experienced players, sometimes it may feel frustrating to be asked to rehearse ‘straightforward’ or ‘exercise’ pieces. However, perhaps it should be remembered that although an accomplished player may have little difficulty playing complex sections of demisemiquavers in 9/8 time, musical genius is displayed by the ability to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in a way that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. 


Taking Music Home


Our music library represents our largest single financial asset. You are urged to take great care when handling the music and at the end of each rehearsal:


  • Please return music to your folder in numerical order

  • Please avoid creasing and tearing.

  • Please avoid putting one piece of music inside another. 

  • If it is necessary or to mark the sheet music, only do this lightly with a pencil.

  • Damage through “fair wear and tear” is inevitable but timely repair by you will extend the life of the music. Please speak to our librarian, Emmy Sneyd, if you encounter any difficulties.


In order to help you practise the ‘twiddly bits’ you are permitted to take complete instrument folders to practice at home but only if:


  • You know you are attending the following week. Missing folders can be incredibly frustrating for other players. Please do not assume that if you are in a section of one, or that there are many others in your section that this does not matter.

  • You take great care of the music and accept that you are responsible for any damage or loss.

In each folder there is card that should be signed and left in the plastic music cases so that the librarian can keep a track of where each folder is. Please make sure that you have a contact who can return your folder in case of unforeseen circumstances.


Subscriptions & Registration


At each session it is mandatory, because of insurance, safety and contractual obligations, to ‘sign in’ on the register. 


The subscriptions we receive are essential in being able to pay for all the recurring costs in keeping the orchestra going. The ‘subs’ are extremely modest indeed and have remained static for more than five years;  the preferred manner of paying these is by cheque or BACs at the beginning of each term. 


It is appreciated that this may prove problematic for some players and so we have operated an honour system to date, where you can pay for each session. However, this has sometimes caused difficulties for our treasurer to reconcile the monies paid with those registering on the sheet. Please note, is absolutely essential that you pay your dues!  Euros, gambling chips and bottle tops are not acceptable. (Krugerands, gold sovereigns or Spanish doubloons can be accepted by arrangement). If Glen Campbell can keep “a dollar tucked inside his shoe” please keep a five-pound note secreted in your instrument case if you are prone to forget.


“The Conductor’s Lot is not an Easy One (Easy One)”  (with apologies to G. & S.)


All of us want to go home at Saturday lunchtime cheerful and with the music buzzing in our ears. This, of course, includes the Conductor !  There are numerous ways we can ensure the morning runs smoothly and that we can support each other. So, please :


Be committed. Although we appreciate that it is not always possible to attend a session for a whole variety of reasons, it places huge demands on the Conductor if they do not know who is coming. Also, with a waiting list for certain instrument players, it is unfair if we keep places open for a few that only attend sporadically. Please, as a matter of courtesy, let the Conductor know as soon as possible if you are not able to attend a rehearsal.


Be punctual. We must be ready to start, with music sorted, music stands and instruments ready at 9.45 a.m. This means you should plan to arrive at no later than 9.30. Late arrivals do cause disruption and unless it really cannot be avoided shows a lack of consideration for fellow musicians.


Listen. When a colleague needs to ask a question or when the conductor is giving directions (even if to another section) it is absolutely essential that everyone else is pin-drop quiet to hear what is being said. The sound of five people whispering sounds like a loud background hum to the conductor. Please leave the chatting to the coffee break!


Please also remember that whilst smiles are silent, groans are not. 


Warming up and practising.  It is appreciated that many instruments require a ‘bit of warm’ up before playing, but the sound of thirty or so instruments doing so before the rehearsals can reach the noise level of a jumbo jet at  50 yards. If you do need to give your instrument a tune-up please do this outside of the main hall e.g. in the corridors or foyer.


Also, in the break, we ask that you do not indulge in private practice in the main hall. Please keep this the one quiet area for others.



… and finally


Many thanks to all those who come early to put out the chairs, stay late to ensure things are put away and so on. Special thanks to those who often volunteer to make the coffee and tea in the break. With 80 members, each of us should be quite happy to volunteer at least twice in a year. Please don’t always leave it to others. (Hint: It also gives you the chance to sneak an extra Jaffa cake).


All help greatly appreciated !      Above all – Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy …. 

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