So, on this premise, you can imagine my plight. All my life I have been a first soprano. I nearly always sang the highest part, the part most easily heard above the other voices in the performance. Because I could hit the high notes, I usually got to sing melody or the descant or occasionally the "tenor" up an octave. I've always had to prove my musicianship to the family in some way. The lower voices nearly always got to sing harmony parts, so they got a lot of practice singing "non-melody" parts to prove their musicianship. My brothers liked to hold it over my heard that they played band instruments so that made them real musicians. I played piano, albeit secretly -- I only had opportunities to practice while my mother was not teaching lessons or doing her own rehearsing -- when the family was away. And most of my life has been spent accompanying singers and shows at the piano. I never really even picked up other instruments. I exclusively sang, conducted or accompanied at the piano.
This is only to say that my experience with band or orchestral instruments has been decidedly lacking.
Sitting in the loft at the Music and the Spoken Word Broadcasts each week, listening to the incredible musicians in the orchestra playing the examples of great orchestral writing, has really accustomed my ear to how the accompaniments to my show music should sound. It occurred to me that I was getting an up close education about orchestration. My ear was being trained and if I paid close attention, I could pick up ideas about how the instruments work together and learn how to write for them. And even though I do not have a secret "pocket" orchestra at my beck and call, I do have a computer with some decent approximations of how the real instruments sound.
The past weeks have been hectic and brain-numbing as I have worked to orchestrate the songs for my newest Children's Theater Musical "Parizade's Quest, A Tale from the Arabian Nights." The only problem is that I grow more and more frustrated with the computer generated sounds and wish I could hire real musicians to interpret the music with human feeling. Maybe one day...