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Meet me in St. Louis

From Bret Pimental's site:

Reed 1: Picc Flute Clar
Reed 2: Flute Clar
Reed 3: Oboe EH Clar
Reed 4: Clar Bass Cl Bassoon

Does anyone know the breakdown for Reed 3? How much Oboe/EH vs. clarinet?

Also, how difficult is this musical to play, if you were to have only 2 rehearsals?


Private woodwind instructor
Mostly oboe. I can't remember if the english horn parts were double scored to be played on clarinet.
I was on Reed 2 while my daughter covered the Reed 3 book so I really didn't pay close attention, and we played the show about 5 or 6 years ago.

If you have the book for a week or so before the 2 rehearsals and you're an experienced pit musician you should be able pull it together well enough.

It's not the hardest show I've ever played, but it surely isn't an easy show either. We had 4 rehearsals before "Hell Week" and I didn't think I was ready to open 'til we played the last show. But I'm only an advanced amateur clarinetist/saxophonist.
Sorry if I can't be of more help.
Thanks Tammi. My daughter is the one who might play this. She planned to go to music camps for 6 weeks this summer, then she was offered this job at a dinner theater, which would mean cutting out three weeks of camp. The first camp is Tanglewood and she's not about to miss that one, so she'd miss the first two pit rehearsals. She's an oboe and sax player, so having a part that is mostly oboe/EH makes it easier for her. She plays the clarinet, but wouldn't have much time at the intense music camps to practice it. She has about one week to decide which one she'll do.


Private woodwind instructor
As long as the MD gives her any cuts, jumps, vamps, and tempo markings in advance she'll probably be ok with just the 2 rehearsals.
I'm guessing there will also be a tech rehearsal and a couple of 'dress rehearsals' to clean up any problem spots she may run into.

It's a fun show if she decides to do it.
If she would like to get an idea of what the music is like, the movie version with Judy Garland is on VHS/DVD.
It's not exactly like the stage version, but most of the 'important' stuff is there.

Your daughter should look into going to Interlochen.
It's funny that one ot the worlds best music/performing arts camps is located in northern Michigan.
My daughter went to Interlochen last summer after she attended Tanglewood and didn't like it. She was bored with the ensembles (they put her in intermediate due to age/grade, she was 14) and didn't like being restricted to her cabin area. I think some kids just don't like those restrictions--she turned down Brevard this summer with a big scholarship for that reason. This summer she's planning to attend BUTI Tanglewood on oboe, a sax workshop at the Eastman Institute, followed by the Eastman Music Horizons program on oboe.

If she does the musical, she would skip the Music Horizons program. I think she'd have 2-3 dress rehearsals and that would be it. but you're right'; having the MD give her all the cuts, etc., would be a big help.


Old King Log
Staff member
She'll learn a lot more fitting into a musical pit orchestra than she will at a month of music camp.

The music camps of my experience concentrated on either straight art music, or on some contemporary version of same. Sure, you get to spend time with others of your equivalent skill level, but the music you make is pretty well out of date as soon as it leaves the horn.

It's expensive, and at the end you are better suited to be a concert band musician (good luck with that) or a member of a symphonic organization (and, good luck with that, too).

Playing a musical is like holding onto a bucking horse at first. You have all sorts of things thrown at you that you have never experienced before, and there is a steep learning curve. But, the end result is that you play music that someone wants to hear, rather than music that they are hearing because you are in the camp. You learn to work with a musical director, rather than a conductor who is mostly interested in the group as a whole. You learn to function on your own, and to blend with vocalists.

Plus, you usually get paid...

My opinion, of course.

If I were to send anyone to camp to learn anything, I'd send them to Laval University up in Quebec City, to the Ecole du Hockey de la Capitale. Best bang for the buck that I ever spent, and it didn't hurt the boy's bassoon playing skills one bit.
SOTSO, I appreciate your input on this. I also think she should do the musical, as does her sax teacher. Next week she'll play in her 6th musical, but they have all been at high schools and in our own county. This one--Meet me in St Louis--is a dinner theater and in another county, most likely with different professional musicians. I tend to agree with you on band camps, which is why this summer my daughter will only attend music institutes and workshops with no large ensembles. It will be a tough call for her. She is fortunate that she got into everything she applied for!
Update--my daughter has now completed several shows and has two more weeks to go. She went to three dress rehearsals and then performed. The MD hired a professional musician to cover the first two rehearsals while my daughter was at music camp, so the cuts were already written in. Daughter didn't have time to practice the book beforehand as the music institutes were so intense. She was a bit worried but was ready by opening night. The Reed 3 book is more than 50% clarinet, with the rest oboe/EH. She is enjoying the professional atmosphere of the pit as it's a big step up from the high school musicals she's played in. Plus, she's being paid. She doesn't like the musical as much as the jazz/swing ones, but with the limited amount of time she had to rehearse the book I think it's a good thing that this musical is easier.

She says though that sight-reading fast passages in 7 sharps on clarinet, her 4th instrument, is still challenging.


Old King Log
Staff member
One of the compromises that you have to make...

...with playing musical theater is that you have to do the dogs alongside of the gems (to mix a metaphor). If you get established with a contractor (and, as an oboe/english horn player, your daughter has an excellent starting position to do this), you need to be willing to answer the bell regardless of the topic or musical content if you want to keep your position.

I suffered through the ultimate acid test one summer up in Illinois, when two different groups put on the same mongrel of a show, Carousel. At the end of twelve shows of that mutt, I was almost ready to send my clarinets to Goodwill.

During one of the productions, I pulled out the loose half of a broken molar in the interval. It was painful (and bloody) to do that, but playing the dragged-out, "Go ahead and return to the spirit worlds and stop getting in the way of the plot" tunes during Act II was so annoying that I didn't even notice the pain.

(The tooth started vibrating in place with some of the tunes, and it was almost more than I could stand. Trooper that I was, I managed. After the second act, I had to clean out my mouthpiece and discard the reed, but the audience never knew anything was wrong.)

But, even though each evening left me wanting to shoot Agnes De Mille for her drawn out, over-wrought, and pointless ballet, I kept on keeping on. I might be cursing the librettist under my breath all the while, but I still delivered the goods.

There are certain shows that you look forward to (like A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, which she will sooner or later encounter as it is popular with progressive school districts and community theater), and certain shows that you will learn to dread (like 1776, a show with so much time between two of the musical numbers that you have enough time to leave the pit, drive to McDonalds, purchase a meal, send it back when they put mustard on the Quarter Pounder, pick up the correct meal, drive back to the theater, eat, wash your hands, flirt with the (other - there are twenty bars of flute wedged into the clarinet part at the very end) flute player, and still have time to spare when you reenter the pit and silently get your horns warm for the rest of the show.)

And, the "sax" shows are usually much more fun than the pure flute/clarinet/oboe/bassoon ones. The exceptions to this general rule are the Bernstein shows, more specifically Wonderful Town, On The Town, West Side Story, and the least performed but most enjoyable Candide. That man knew how to write (and his arrangers, how to arrange) a jazzy show, even though saxes play a limited role, or in the case of Candide, no saxes at all.

I currently play three or four shows a year, giving me something along the lines of three rehearsals a show. That's not enough to keep bassoon playing up to snuff, but it covers all of the other horns. Of course, I get rehearsal time with the regular band stuff, and your daughter will have her music studies, so it all comes out for the good.

And, as for the seven sharps stuff, you soon learn to cope. My personal worst key signature experience was with "Everything's Coming Up Roses" in Gypsy. Written to suit The Merm's musical limitations, the clarinet part transposed out to seven flats, with page spanning arpeggios. At the end of two lines of that, my fingers were twisted in knots (and that's with a full Boehm horn, mind you), but I got it together in time for the performances.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Not really being a clarinet kinda guy, why wouldn't you use a C or A sop clarinet in place of the Bb to assist with the insane key signature? I guess I understand if one is a glutton for punishment...
The C, being one full step higher, wouldn't help all that much. An A, on the other side...


Old King Log
Staff member
I've heard that song before...

...but not everyone has access to an A clarinet. At the time, I didn't. Also, it's another five pounds to tote in and out of the covered over orchestra pit.

On the full Boehm, it works well enough. But, you do get cramped up fingers, making all of those key to key moves (instead of key to hole or hole to key ones).
SOTSDO, I agree with you on the need to compromise and go with whatever the MD requests. She has actually always been willing to fill in on whichever instrument is needed in school ensembles. This particular MD directing Meet me in St Louis has already asked if she's interested in performing in On the Town, and she jumped at that one. I even found her an Eb soprano clarinet off ebay (for $100) so that she can practice it and hopefully get the clarinet/Eefer/ sop sax part (she probably won't get the oboe/EH part because it's a university production and a college student will get priority).

It seems that in every musical she's played in, the clarinet is always in 7 sharps. Probably because there are always string players?