Playing with us is simple. However, there are some things you may find helpful to know:
You must sign up for each Friday session using Groups.io. This gives you the flexibility to come whenever your schedule allows. If you sign up by noon on Friday, our scheduler (usually Don and sometimes Mary or Faith) will assign you to an ensemble for the evening. By default, you'll be assigned to two different ensembles. The first meets from 7:45-8:45pm and the 2nd from 8:55-9:55pm. If you want to attend just one session, just add that to your Groups.io request saying which session.
If you find Groups.io confusing the first time, think of it like a glorified mail list. Use the friday subgroup to post your intent to come. But don't wait til the last minute to join the group. Someone will have to approve your request to join and that can take time. We require this approval step for a number of reasons, the most important being that you have described your sightreading and playing skills - which helps in initial ensemble groupings. (See Sightreading below.) Finally, you must sign up for for a specific Friday evening.
Some people sign up early in the week and others wait until the last minute (just before noon on Friday). Why do people sign up early when they don't have to? Some like the commitment. Some want to participate in any discussion that takes place - such as suggesting ensemble groupings or music to play. And your signup may attract others. If you prefer keeping your options open, just remember we ask you to sign up by noon on Friday. After that, you're at risk of not being scheduled.
If you do sign up early and have a conflict, try to tell us by noon on Friday. You can tell us later but you'll make the scheduler do more work. Appreciate that there is a point after which the coordinator won't have time to reschedule and it makes for a messy start to our evening if we have to replan ensembles while everyone is standing around waiting. If you repeatedly back out late or don't show up, we'll eventually give up on you and won't schedule you any more.
In the event of an emergency cancellation of a meetup, we will contact attendees through the friday subgroup before 3pm on Friday. We will not meet if evening activities at Montgomery County schools are canceled due to weather. We will also cancel a session if a very low turnout doesn't justify opening the church for the evening.
Members are welcome to bring guests to play or listen. If they want to play, email the details (their instrument and skills) to the friday subgroup. Members occasionally bring well-behaved children who listen. (We understand babysitter arrangements or spouses sometimes fall thru.) Contact us and we'll try to schedule you for one of the more kid-friendly rooms.
If you're a guest on your own and just want to enjoy listening to musicians sightread and banter, email email@example.com Friday morning and we'll let you know if we can handle guests in the evening. (Don't sign up using the friday subgroup.) Guests must arrive between 7:30-7:45pm (same as musicians).
If you have ensemble preferences ("Don't ever put me with a pianist." or "Tonight, put me in a session with Wolfgang and Elton."), include other details - which session(s) you can attend, whether you are bringing your own music, which instrument you intend to play (for musicians who play multiple instruments, we'll try to schedule you for the same instrument in the other session so you don't have to bring more than one), whether you are willing to have additional people added to your ensemble, etc.
These special requests are a hassle to deal with - they make scheduling more difficult and we can't always honor them so we discourage them. (And frequently, people state them ambiguously so we cannot be certain we understand them!) Nonetheless, we understand that they're useful, particularly for ensembles preparing for a concert. But try to minimize your requests.
If meetup shows more than a dozen people attending on a given evening, bring a music stand since we will likely run out of church-provided stands. Even if fewer than a dozen people are attending, it's a good idea to leave the stand in your car just in case.
While we have a music library, feel free to bring your own sheet music. And we love contributions to our library. There are some great websites that have free ensemble sheet music. We're particularly fond of the Clarinet Institute (which has a lot more than just clarinet music), IMSLP (International Music Score Library Project), and free-scores.com. If you do make a contribution, ensure that it has all the parts and each on separate pages. (We can't play off scores.)
We have three rooms with pianos. (One room has two pianos for duets.) Occasionally, this can become an issue if too many pianists register for a session. We also sometimes use keyboards to fill in for a critical instrument.
If you would prefer to limit movement (because you can't go up steps easily or your instrument is heavy), let us know so we can schedule you in rooms without steps. Outside steps can be avoided by parking on the Viers Mill access road. Access to the basement room without steps is also available from the main parking lot.
People occasionally bring food to share afterward. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post to the friday subgroup if you want to do this.
Concerts are not required but can be quite enjoyable - and a nice way to give some of your time and talent to the community, share your love of chamber music, and it's fun to put in that extra effort to polish a piece as a team. No reason to get nervous, we don't play perfectly, and our audience understands we are amateurs - they love us anyway. Come and share! Concerts are free and we have a bit of food and banter afterward!
Most of our concerts are at the Living Faith Lutheran Church but we occasionally perform elsewhere. For example, we have done a lot of performances at senior homes. If you are interested in hosting us, contact: email@example.com
We expect musicians to have good sightreading skills. You don't have to be perfect but if you don't sightread well, this isn't the group for you. There are many web pages that explain how to sightread, how to improve sightreading, and how to sightread faster. Use a search engine and start with search terms: sightread music
To share photos, videos, or other news, post to our facebook group.
We have some expenses. Our domain (mccms.info) costs $12/yr, we occasionally create promotional material for our concerts, and sometimes we buy music. To keep the hassle factor low, we don't require a membership fee but we appreciate contributions to take some of the burden off the small group who ensure that the bills are paid. Any amount is welcome. Cash or check is good - hand it to the coordinator on any Friday evening and we will thank you!
Finally, thanks to Living Faith Lutheran Church for providing us with our weekly rehearsal space.