Header image Whidbey Island Orchestra

The Whidbey Island Orchestra was formed in 2007 to provide quality musical experiences
for young and adult musicians of Whidbey Island and for our community.

Scores for 'Wizards!' coming soon!


Starting September 5, 2024

Orchestra Rehearsals are Thursday evenings, 6:30 pm, at Island Church in Langley

Rehearsals start at 6:30 - meaning we want people there, tuned, warmed up, and ready for the first downbeat at 6:30 sharp. The rehearsals are at Island Church in Langley (6th Avenue and Cascade - diagonally across from WICA). We use their youth gym on the southwest corner. Lighting is good but heating/cooling is not strong, so dress for the weather. They don't have any extra music stands, so please bring your own.


Tentative 2024-2025 Concert Schedule

Skylark on the Green, (Cynthia Morrow, Conductor)
Skylark Ensemble

July 6, 2024 - Useless Bay Golf and Country Club

Wizards!, (Cynthia Morrow)
Full Orchestra

October 31 - Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

Christmas Concert (Cynthia Morrow)
Full Orchestra

Friday, December 13, 7 pm - Island Church of Langley
Sunday, December 15, 3 pm - Trinity Lutheran Church

John Williams Tribute (Cynthia Morrow)
Full Orchestra

March 28 or 29, 2025 - Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

Pop Goes the Symphony! (Cynthia Morrow)
Full Orchestra

March 2, 2024 - Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

Mother's Day (Cynthia Morrow)
Full Orchestra

May 11 - Trinity Lutheran Church

A Short Guide to Rehearsals and Practice


When you learn a new piece of music, first, examine the score without your instrument. Find the landmarks – repeats, key and tempo changes, del Segno and Coda sections. The words and markings are as important as the notes. For the audience, hearing notes without accents and tempo changes is like listening to a boring college lecture.

Use a tuner. If you don't, after a while, your habitual mis-tuned notes start to sound ‘right’.

Practicing with a metronome will help you keep up during rehearsals. Tuner-metronome combinations are not expensive, and free apps are available for smartphones.

Play very slowly noting and understanding the meaning of each word and marking. Ask your teacher or section head, or web-search anything you don’t understand. Observe bowings and fingerings.

It’s much harder to unlearn than to learn. Get it right the first time, even if very slowly. That way, muscle memory becomes your friend.

Rarely play the parts you can play perfectly. Concentrate on what needs to improve.

Mark short areas – a few notes, sometimes just two – for concentrated work. In marked areas, Select very short passages. Play as slowly as it takes for you to play perfectly – repeat 5 consecutive perfect times. Increase speed, never going faster than you can play 5 times in a row perfectly. If you make an error, start the count of 5 over again. If you make the same error persistently, shorten the passage you are practicing.

“Music is almost all scales and arpeggios” – Cynthia. So practice scales and arpeggios daily.


An orchestra rehearsal is more like a business meeting than a social event. Roles and responsibilities are clear. Standards of discipline and decorum are observed. The conductor is in control of all aspects of the rehearsal.

Posted beginning time of the rehearsal is “first downbeat” by the conductor. By that time the players need to be present, tuned, and warmed up, with music organized. Situate yoiurself so you have a clear (unobstructed) view of the conductor.

Concertmaster (CM) leads the tuning:

First, CM gets the pitch from keyboard, oboe, or tuner.
Next, CM plays the pitch. After a few seconds, the woodwinds tune to that pitch.
Next, CM plays the pitch. After a few seconds, the brass tune to that pitch.
Finally, CM plays the pitch. After a few seconds, the other strings tune to that pitch.

The primary purpose of the rehearsal is for the musicians to learn to play together – that is, for orchestra practice, not individual practice. Except for sight-reading sessions, it is not the time for musicians to see the piece for the first time or figure out how to get from one note to the next. Like school, orchestra playing requires homework.

Any extraneous playing not under the direction of the conductor is counterproductive. This includes working through difficult passages you should have mastered in home practice. It also includes any playing beyond the point where the conductor calls a halt. Playing after the conductor stops shows you were not watching the stick.

The other purpose of the rehearsal is for the conductor to shape the musicians’ play to develop the conductor’s desired tone and balance, by giving feedback to either a section or the orchestra as a whole. It is difficult to hear speech in our rehearsal spaces, and our rehearsal time is quite limited. Any talking or playing while the conductor is talking is very disruptive.

While we have a relatively low-key approach, interactions should rarely be initiated by anyone other than the conductor. Well-thought-out suggestions about playing style can be shared with the conductor at break or outside rehearsal. Questions about notes that look wrong or subtle rhythms should first be addressed to the section lead at the break or after rehearsal. An exception might be made for clarifications of conducting style such as whether the conductor is conducting in one or in three in a given section. Casual, off-the-cuff comments are not appropriate. Please think hard before you comment.

If you think the conductor does not notice that a section or player is making errors or is playing out of tune, with poor tone, or too loudly, you are mistaken. Player comments about issues such as these are uniformly destructive and will not be tolerated. The section leader or conductor will deal with these issues at the appropriate time.

List and meanings of musical symbols