Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to audition to join a group?

No. Auditions are not required for any of our ensembles. Part assignments are determined in conversation with the Music Director and members of the section. However, Ransom Street Big Band is only available by invitation of the Music Director in order to ensure appropriate instrumentation.

2. How well do I have to play to join an ensemble?

We have ensembles for all skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Many of our beginning members have never played an instrument or want to learn to play a new instrument. Some have not played an instrument since their school days while others have been playing for many years. Click Here for our Ensemble Overview.

3. Do I need to provide my own instrument and music stand?

Yes. Members must provide their own instruments and stands with some exceptions (notably percussion instruments). If you would like to rent an instrument, we would direct you to one of our sponsors:  Marshall Music.

4. How much does it cost to join?

There is a charge for each ensemble you join and several options for payment. You can find our Dues Schedule by clicking on this link.  However, if you’d like to sit in on a rehearsal or two to try us out for no charge, feel free!

5. Where do you rehearse?

Our rehearsal venue is at Calvary Baptist Church,  St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 3215  4 Mile Rd. at East Beltline, Grand Rapids, MI.

6. Do I have to buy my own music?

No. All music is provided by and is the property of our organization and is distributed to members for use during each semester.

7. How long are rehearsals?

The length of rehearsals varies depending upon the ensemble. Generally rehearsals last from one and a half to two hours, including a break.

8. Are the rehearsals fun?

Yes! Although we practice seriously, our Music Director makes the rehearsals enjoyable and educational.

9. Who is the Music Director?

Nancy Summers is the Music Director. She has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Michigan and over four decades of experience playing oboe in orchestras in Michigan and St. Louis (MO). She also performs chamber music as a soloist. She has directed our organization since 2001 and has directed at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and New Horizons International Music Association camps at Interlochen (MI), Chautauqua (NY), Georgia and Maine.

10. Can I play for part of the year?

Yes. We offer both full season (two semesters) and single semester memberships.

11. Do you rehearse and perform all year long?

No. Our season runs from approximately Labor Day until Memorial Day.

12. Where and how often do you give performances?

We generally give two or three free public concerts each year. We also offer a number of outreach performances at retirement communities, social service venues, and elementary schools in the area. Participation in outreach performances is optional.

13. What if I’ve never played an instrument before?

Nancy’s Novices: A Beginning Band would be the perfect place for you to begin. You could then move on to another group when you feel ready to do so.

14. How do I join?

Simply fill out our Member Registration Form. We will then contact you with more information. We would love to have you consider joining us so that you can experience the lifelong benefits of making music. You can even sit in on a rehearsal or two to try us out for no charge before joining.