5 tips for any musician

Jan 12, 2024

My name is Adrianne Barilla and I'm a first violin with the Philharmonia, which I joined in 2002.
Today I'd like to share 5 things that I've learnt about music making, collaboration and my 20 Years in the Orchestra.

We play as we are.
When I first came to London as a student in the Royal Academy of Music, I got some small jobs in the library as a concert usher because I wanted to save up for five tickets to go and see each of the London orchestras with her principal conductors.
Of course I'd heard them and I heard of them, but I wanted to see and hear for myself in the flesh what it what they were like.
Londoners are so lucky to have this wealth of talent, that is the players of the five resident orchestras.
And they were and still are all fantastic.
But when the Philharmonia came on stage, they were relaxed, they were chatting to each other, joking.
There's no stress.
There was none of that formality and stuffiness that we sometimes come to expect of a classical music concert.
And then they started playing.
And these same qualities came out in the plane, came out in the way they made music.
They were relaxed and they were utterly refined.
And I remember thinking, that's how you make music

Leave your ego at the door.
More than half of the first violin section of the Philharmonia are either current or former concert masters of international, national or regional orchestras and across the orchestra, all instruments.
Everyone is the best from wherever they came from.
So if you add to that that the training encourages you to find your artistic voice and to win competitions and to defend that number one spot, that can make for some pretty big egos until you join an orchestra.
Traditionally, that moment of joining an orchestra marks the end of personal individual development, because now you are at the service of the collective and the collective only, and this can be a pretty challenging time for the player to make that transition.
When you play in an orchestra, you hang your ego next to your coat at the door.
It's essential to let go of your ego so that you can allow the input from the colleagues around you to reach you, so you know what you have to play to.
When I don't let go of my ego, my playing might obliterate the nuances that everyone else is doing around me, so my sound won't gel with what everything else is doing, and so the sound of the orchestra, it just won't work.
So traditionally the job of the orchestra player is to play their instruments as well as possible whilst matching perfectly everything else that's going on around them.
And that's an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially in a great orchestra.
But in the Philharmonia, all that is just 50% of the job.
The other 50%, the Philharmonia players expect you to give back into that collective to actually bring your own sense of music making.
So by doing that, you enrich the environment as well.
You're not sitting there passively trying to adapt to what's going on.
And everyone is doing that.
So when someone comes in on trial, for example, and they just blend in, they blend in very well, but they just blend in.
To us, it feels like there's a hole in the band.
Over time, you learn to bring your music into the orchestra in this way, in a way that respects the colleagues and the music that's happening.
It's like a flock of starlings where the orchestra is the whole organic thing in constant movement, but each individual bird, each individual player, actually steers locally.
What's happening?
And that's what gives the orchestra and the flock it's life.
And this receiving from the orchestra and giving back into it form a symbiotic relationship where we are all enriched by doing it.
And it translates into the audience.
Audience members who've been coming to the ceremony for decades say the sounds the same.
How's that possible?
And I think that's why I believe in an orchestra as a model of a perfect society, where you have a group of people working together towards a common goal, while each one of them is asserting themselves and developing individually


It's called maestro for a reason, as well as being a violinist.
In the Philharmonia, I'm a composer and conductor, and we call conductors maestro, which literally translates as teacher.
In this context, a teacher is not someone who dishes out information to a passive audience, but the conductor.
As maestro has two jobs and one of them is musical, but the other one in this model of orchestra society is to actually develop its citizens, to help people develop their music making in a way that works with everybody else.
And you can't do that by bossing people around.
A conductor can't be a dictator, or rather, a dictator can't be a good conductor.
Well, one thing I've learnt here at Philharmonia is how things are supposed to sound at a top recording and performance level.
And I've learnt this by listening to my colleagues working as a team with the conductors.
The best conductors develop the sound together with the players.
I know how it feels as a player to give your all for a conductor and for your colleagues.
So when I conduct, what I want most is to give others that great feeling and to create conditions where they can grow and they can develop and they can do things that they didn't know was possible.
The greatest conductors are great teachers in this respect.
They give players space and they create conditions in which the players can grow and develop and express themselves and collaborate.
The best conductors earn the title Maestro for a reason,


Chamber music on a symphonic scale.
I come from the Rio de La Plata region in South America where being a member of a world class Symphony Orchestra is almost unheard of, and generally being Latin American in a top flight orchestra is pretty rare.
So the Philharmonia is global in that sense, and it's also global in the sense that this varied group of people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different languages, can all come together as a unit and perform anything, anywhere.
London orchestral musicians are famous for their sight reading abilities and on top of that, the Philharmonia is famous for its collective spirit, which translates into its music making.
Being global is about traveling, of course, and there's a skill to flying to new cities and going straight from the airport to the concert hall any time of day or night and still performing at the top level.
When you're a professional musician, no one cares if you argued with your girlfriend or you could sleep well or you ate something that disagreed with you.
People pay their ticket and you have to play well.
There needs to be a deep musical connection and a total sense of trust with your colleagues to be able to deliver that kind of thing.
It's the sort of bond that exists in chamber music, but applied to a symphonic scale

Innovating means taking risks.
The phenomena has always been interested in and partnered with technological development.
It's recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
The first movement is aboard the Voyager One and Two spacecraft in outer space.
We have a long track record of film and games, were involved in virtual media, mixed media, augmented media.
So from its beginnings as a recording orchestra, it's still to this day one of the most recorded orchestras on Earth.
In 2009, the Philharmonia created the first of a number of digital installations.
The aim of the installation was to bring members of the public who may or may not have had experience of an orchestra before, to bring them really up close to our work and to our music.
So they would wander around this installation with screens and instruments, and they had the freedom to choose which way they wanted to go.
And they would have shots of the sections and the instruments really, really up close.
And the collaborative spirit that I was talking about extends well beyond the players to the people working behind the scenes.
So we view each other as members of the same team as opposed to one group supporting the work of the other.
So when the first installation was being developed, the head of digital came to talk to the players to tell us, you know, what it was about and what the idea was and what what the aims were.
And it occurred to me that if one of the aims or the primary aim was to get people that close to what we're doing, a good way to achieve this would be if we could offer the audience player points of views, Player PO VS by, for example, mounting headcams on our heads, looking outwards into the orchestra, so down the Fingerboard of the instrument.
So we discussed this idea and you know how it could be done.
And I volunteered to wear a headcam, and the idea was taken further.
And other instruments also wore headcams.
You know the there was a trombone, a double bass, I forget who else, but kind of dotted all over the orchestra.
From a player point of view, this was incredibly risky on the daily shoot 29 camera shoot.
The day was set up so that we would only play through this piece twice with no chance to edit.
So everyone in the orchestra, of course I could not put one foot wrong, but especially these under the microscope head cams, you know, the public was going to be looking at this in exhibitions all over the world and they're going to have a close up of what you were doing and you didn't know if they were going to use take one or take two.
They both had to be perfect.
And thank goodness it all went well.
Otherwise all the other players wearing head cams would have been pretty mad at me.
So I guess taking the risk paid off.


Online music lessons have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. They offer a number of advantages over traditional in-person lessons, including:

  • Convenience: Online lessons can be taken from anywhere in the world, at any time of day or night. This is ideal for students who have busy schedules or who live in areas with limited access to music teachers.
  • Affordability: Online lessons are often more affordable than traditional in-person lessons. This is because teachers do not have to rent studio space or pay for travel expenses.
  • Flexibility: Online lessons can be tailored to fit the needs of individual students. This means that students can work on the skills and techniques that they are most interested in, and at their own pace.
  • Accessibility: Online lessons are accessible to a wider range of students, including those with disabilities or who live in rural areas.

A recent study by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) found that 60% of parents and students believe that online music lessons are as effective as or more effective than traditional in-person lessons. The study also found that online lessons can help students to improve their technical skills, their musical understanding, and their self-confidence.

Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks to online music lessons. One concern is that students may not get the same level of personalized attention from an online teacher as they would from an in-person teacher. Additionally, some students may find it difficult to focus and learn in a virtual environment.

However, the advantages of online music lessons generally outweigh the disadvantages. They are a convenient, affordable, and flexible way to learn music, and they can be effective for students of all ages and skill levels.

Here are some additional tips for success with online music lessons:

  • Choose a reputable teacher: There are many online music teachers available, so it is important to take the time to find one who is qualified and experienced. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or online music communities.
  • Set realistic expectations: Learning to play an instrument takes time and dedication. Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Just keep practicing and you will eventually reach your goals.
  • Be patient: Online music lessons are a great way to learn music, but they still require effort and dedication. Be patient with yourself and your teacher, and you will eventually achieve your goals.








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