SVNHB logo


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: Where can I get more info?

A: Call/email Diane and definitely continue reading!

Q: What is this band/string orchestra and who is it for?

A: It is a band or string orchestra for adults who think they would enjoy playing a band or orchestra instrument for the first time, or who used to play an instrument but have not done so for years. New Horizons is a group that supports the organization of beginning and intermediate music groups for adults all over the country. This is our local "chapter" of that group. We invite adults from towns all over the area to join.  Who?

  • Adults of around 20-something to 100+, but any adult who would like to be involved is welcome!
  • Beginners who have never played an instrument or even read music before.
  • People who have played instruments a little bit, but have not had a lot of experience.
  • Those who played years (or decades!) ago and would like to get back to it. (We have people coming back to instruments after 50, 60 and even 70 years of not playing! It is never to late!)
  • Those who already play an instrument but would like to try something new.

Q: Are there fees to participate?

A: In order to provide quality time with quality instructors, there is a tuition charge. Usually this charge is between $190 and $220 per session. Fees for different sessions may vary depending on the length of the session. However, no one should decide not to be in the group for financial reasons - we will make scholarships available to those who need it. The only additional cost would be for renting/buying an instrument if you need to do so.

Q: I do not live in Sudbury; can I still join?

A: Absolutely! The Sudbury Valley New Horizons Music groups are for people from all over the area and the more towns represented, the better!

Q: How do I join?

A: Click here for information (you can also let Diane know you'd like to try out a reahearsal and she will let you know the details for doing so). Check us out!  If you like it, you can join; if not, you aren't committed


Q: What is a concert band?

A: A concert band is usually a collection of wind instruments (those you blow into) and assorted percussion instruments

Standard band instrumentation usually includes:

flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone sax, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, trombone, euphonium/baritone, tuba, percussion.

Q: What is a string orchestra?

Beginner Strings

A: A string orchestra is usually made up of violins, violas, cellos and basses.  Occasionally we may add winds and percussion from the band to create a full orchestra.



Q: What type of music will the groups play?

A: The band will be playing standard band compositions, marches, musicals, orchestral transcriptions, some jazz and even some pop tunes.  The string orchestra will do standard orchestral repertoire (you know, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart...), some contemporary things and even some jazz or pop repertoire!

Q: How will it be interesting for musicians of different levels?

A: We choose some pieces that are pretty easy, one challenger and the others inbetween. Our goal is to be accessible to the novice player, so we teach you how to simplify parts or we do it for you! Some people leave out sections they can't play and others ask for help simplifying. We will make it work for you! (Lessons for the beginners happen while the more advanced players work in rehearsal).

Q: I play a little bit, but I'm really not quite ready. I think I'll wait.

A: I hear this so often, "I'm not ready." It is usually followed up with something like, "I'm going to practice at home until I get ready, then I'll play in band / take lessons / come to camp." The problem is, you will NEVER be ready!! It is impossible to be ready. Why? Because as adults, we know what the instrument should sound like, but it doesn't! Instead, the wind instrument (one you blow into) squeaks and squawks and sometimes doesn't speak at all, and the snare drum makes these awfully loud sounds and sometimes you miss the head completely!

"But it is true, I'm not ready."

Here is the secret: you can't ever be "ready"! Why? Because you are holding yourself to the standards of the musician who has played his/her entire life!

Just jump right in. You're not-quite-ready, but so what? You will learn so much more by getting in there and taking up the challenge! AND you will have fun! It is such a rush to hear all the music around you and to be in the center.

Be brave; it is hard. Most of us were successful in our professions and we are used to being the ones who know how to do things and this business of being a beginner is embarrassing and really difficult! Yup. But other have done it and you can, too! In SVNHM (we have 80-90 people) about half started as adults. Some are playing well, some not so well, but all are having fun.

Not convinced? Email me...

Q: I’m tone deaf – can I do this?

A: First of all, very few people in the world are truly tone-deaf...Many (perhaps including you!) haven’t had much experience singing or playing an instrument and feel like their ears don’t know what to do. This is natural! I mean, if you decided to go skiing, but you had never done it before, would you expect to be comfortable and competent right away? Of course not!! Likewise, it takes a while to get comfortable with playing an instrument or singing – you need instruction and practice!

Q: How long will it take to learn an instrument?

A: That depends on how much you practice! I found with my middle school kids that the ones beginning percussionistwho take private lessons and practice regularly are pretty much caught up with their peers within a year to 18 months. As an adult, you know more about learning how to do something, so you can expect to start feeling pretty good about making music in just a few months! Will it sound great the first month? NO! But you’ll be surprised how quickly you can start really having fun with other musicians!  From the beginner classes, you and some of the novice players will work together on technique, rhythm reading, etc, then as you are ready, you will begin to play pieces with the intermediates.  After a few months, most people who start as a beginner do a bit of moving back and forth between the intermediate group and the beginner/novice room, playing one or two pieces with the full group and getting assistance on learning from the smaller beginner/novice group.

Q: What about my arthritis?

A: Ouch! What a pain in the fingers! The arthritis may slow you down a little bit, but don’t forget, this kind of exercise is the best thing in the world for your fingers! Many people across the country are playing instruments with arthritic fingers and you can, too!

Q: Will I have enough air to blow through a wind instrument?

A: Most likely, this will not be a problem. If you think it might be for you, we can talk about it and you can always play percussion or a string instrument! But, like with arthritis (see above question), the exercise is really good for you! You may find you are out of breath at first or have trouble holding out a long note, but your muscles will get stronger, your intercostal muscles (the ones around the ribs) will start stretching and you will soon find that you have more air to do other things -- like walk up the stairs!

Q: How do I decide what instrument to play?

A: Well, the first thing should be, what do you want to play? I believe that you should play the instrument that truly speaks to your soul. If you have more than one that you are interested in or really don’t care, I’d be happy to talk it over with you and give you some suggestions.

Q: What if I don’t understand something?

A: Ask! We are all teachers and are here to help you learn! Come a little early to rehearsals and one of us can help you with your question. You can always call me or email me – I am available to help you almost anytime. We can even arrange for an occasional one-on-one to get you over the hump.

Q: I tried to play an instrument in junior high school, but never got anywhere with it. Would it really be different this time?

A: Most likely. Aren’t you a different person? Don’t you look back on your junior high years and shudder? Don’t you feel like you have a better sense of the overall, the gestalt, of how things work? Do you start in on a new project the same way you did when you were 12? Adults come to new tasks with a huge life experience behind them to help make things make sense! You know how to learn and you know that things like practice are important.


Q: I don’t even know how to read music – how hard is that to learn?

A: Ah! A lot of people wonder about the mystery of those little black marks on the paper. You will learn them one at a time. It is pretty difficult to learn to read music when you are trying to just decipher the notes; but, when you actually are using the symbols on the page, they begin to make sense. Before you know it, seeing a note on a line will cause your fingers to move in a particular way without you having to think about it!

Q: I’d love to try this, but I don’t know where I would practice. . .

A: Hmmm... that is sometimes a problem for my young students, too, especially if you live in an apartment. Generally, though, playing an instrument isn’t louder than playing a recording on your sound system! During the day, most neighbors don’t mind; just don’t play your drums at midnight! Do you live in an independent or assisted living facility?

Q: I play a little bit, but I am not a beginner; will there be a place for me in this band/string ensemble?

A: Yup! We will help you get back up to speed and you will probably be playing a few pieces with the full group very quickly!

Q: What can I expect after returning to my instrument after 40 years of not playing?

A: Some frustration, some exhilaration. You will be frustrated that your muscles get tired Clarinetsquickly and that they sometimes don’t seem to remember what to do. You will be exhilarated by again hearing and feeling the sounds you used to make and that you loved so much! You will be frustrated at what you have forgotten, but exhilarated by what you remember! Specifically, all wind players will find that their mouths get tired quickly and the tone isn’t what they expect. Brass players will most likely find that they miss a lot of notes and shake a bit. Saxes and clarinets will squeak again (OH, NOOO!!!!). Flute players and violin players will have very tired shoulders. Percussionists won’t have the control and finesse that they used to have. But guess what? It will come back VERY quickly!! Go slowly and take breaks; you’ll be pleased and surprised!

Q: My kids play instruments. I’m afraid they will laugh at me!

A:Oh, dear. Well, laugh with them and ask them to help you! It will make them feel important, your practicing will set a good example for them, and the fact that you are willing to take risks and try new things is an incredibly important role modeling for children! Showing them that it is never too late to learn and that adults struggle with things too are very important lessons!

Q: This sounds like loads of fun and I'd like to be involved, but I really don't want to play.

A: Consider being a "Band Aide" or "Orchestrator" and helping out at our rehearsals and concerts.

SVNHM homepage note SVNHM Calendar note New Horizons International Music Assoc. note email Diane
Sudbury Valley New Horizons Music, Inc.