FAQ for potential new players

Where does the group meet?

Our regular rehearsal sessions are at Histon Baptist Church, 2 Poplar Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LN (see Google Map at bottom).

What sort of time commitment is involved?

We meet on Thursday evenings, from 8.00 – 10.00 pm, fortnightly during school term time (all the dates are in our Calendar). In addition we would obviously ask each player to put in a reasonable amount of individual practice in between rehearsals, to master the notes and rhythms so that when we meet, we are able to focus on playing together rather than learning our notes.

What if I get busy and have to miss rehearsals?

As each term’s activities lead towards a concert, it is important that members attend regularly so that everyone is up to speed by the time of the concert. If you get busy and have to miss more than one rehearsal in a term, we’d just ask you to check with the Musical Director that it is still OK for you to play in the concert.

How much does it cost to join?

Orchestra members pay a subscription of £50 each term. There is a small discount if you pay for the whole year in September.

When is the best time to join?

Each term, we start work on a new concert  programme, leading up to a performance at the end of the term. If you are a new player, why don’t you come along to our next concert and hear us play – and if you are inspired by what you hear, then you could come and join us at the beginning of the next term.

Can I come along and try out before I commit?

The first 3 sessions are free for a new player. After that, we’ll ask you to decide if you want to commit, and invoice you for the remainder of the term or year if you are going to join us.

Do I need to be able to read music?

You do need to be comfortable with stave notation. If you are a folk player, and more used to working by ear or from tablature, this may seem quite daunting – and you may need to put in some hours in the woodshed. (Actually you might need to come OUT of your woodshed for this bit, and head into your study). But as long as you come along with some basic knowledge and experience of the stave, you would be surprised how quickly you can pick up the rest once you are practising and rehearsing regularly.

I am a fairly basic player. Could I get some tuition before I join?

The MMO caters for a wide range of abilities and it is not necessary to be an advanced player in order to join. The group’s players have quite diverse musical backgrounds.
You may well have been learning mandolin by yourself, or in a very informal setting. You might want a bit of reassurance and guidance on the technical basics, instrument set-up and so on. Or you might want to brush up on your musical terminology or your counting.
There are several experienced music teachers in the group and we may well be able to arrange a couple of starter lessons with you to sort out any issues with technique or tone, pinpoint areas where you might need to do some work, and give advice on tutor books and other practice material.

I’ve got an old mandolin that my aunt kept in her attic for 40 years. Will it do?

It could of course be a fantastic instrument, and in wonderful condition. However, all that glitters is not gold, and it is also quite possibly
a) knocked out on the cheap for the Italian tourist trade, and
b) badly warped !
Even the quality turns out to disappoint, it might give you a start, and if you decide you want to stick at it and develop your mandolin playing, then members of the group will be very happy to advise you on where to find a decent instrument without breaking the bank. You may even find someone has an instrument for sale from time to time.

Is it possible to borrow a mandolin to see how I get along with it?

The MMO does own a couple of basic starter mandolins and if you are serious about wanting to try one out, then do get in touch.