I’ve spent the last two weekends on orchestra residentials, or as my sister lovingly calls them - band camps. The first was at the Earth Center in Doncaster with Sheffield Youth Orchestra (SYO) who I’ve played with for 6 years, and the second was at a youth hostel in Malham with Universe of Manchester Choir and Orchestra Society (CAOS) who I’ve played with for 1 year.

SYO was my first experience playing with a big group of people which was very daunting at the time, and even now after all these years I’ll still sometimes feel like a newbie. Every now and then someone asks me to do something and I think “who, me?!”, but actually at this point I’m one of the veterans. Next year I’ve been asked if I’d like to be one of the ‘responsible adults’ on the trip, and it’s certainly something I want to do (I enquired about doing it in the past) but part of me still nonsensically wonders if it’s too soon. I’ll definitely go for it though if I’m free at the time because even though it’s a completely different group of people from when I first started they’re all wonderful, welcoming and great fun.

By contrast, on the first CAOS rehearsal in September, amidst all the changes university brought, it was comforting to walk into a familiar environment. Orchestra was a format I knew and it was incredibly easy to sink into, even with a group of strangers. In that respect joining CAOS has been a very different experience from when I joined SYO. I’ve only been playing for a year and already I’m being asked to run for committee, take up librarian responsibilities, with mention that I might be moved to first desk next year. I guess that’s the difference between a society that runs through an entire schooling life (potentially over a decade) and one which just runs through the course of a degree (3-4 years, a few more with post grad). Things just seem to move quicker.

I enjoy both a whole lot, and in particular residentials which have me looking forward to March every year. They create a really nice atmosphere of community and collaboration and are great for getting to know the other members better. Part of me wonders if this is something I’m going to lose after University when “real life” begins, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now I’ll just keep playing and having a whale of a time.