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NYO-USA Musician Blogs: A Day in the Life of a Music Librarian

Trey Sakazaki, NYO-USA’s inaugural apprentice orchestra librarian, hails from Bellevue, Washington. Trey spends his days at NYO-USA working with Orchestra Librarian Paul Beck.

Trey Sakazaki, Apprentice Orchestra Librarian:

In the music industry, the main goal is to deliver wonderful music to the audience. However, the delivery of great music doesn’t just involve the talented musicians on stage—equally as vital are the people who support the behind-the-scenes operations of the orchestra.

As the apprentice orchestra librarian of NYO-USA, I am involved on the music preparation end of orchestra management. My day starts before—and ends after—almost everyone else’s. I arrive an hour before the downbeat of rehearsal to make sure that all of the music is prepared and set out for the orchestra. After rehearsal, I account for all of the parts and look over any changes in the music. If a bowing was edited, I make sure that all of the parts have the change clearly marked. If a note was found to be wrong, I edit the music to make it correct. Music preparation is a task that takes hours to complete, even for just one selection on the program. The job requires a keen attention to detail and a lot of patience, as one may imagine the monotony of copying bowings onto nearly 40 string parts.

NYO Apprentice Orchestra Librarian
(Left) Trey discusses markings in an orchestra member's part with NYO-USA's Orchestra Librarian Paul Beck. One of Paul's and Trey's responsibilities is to ensure that all parts are marked consistently. (Right) Trey, far right, meets with the New York Philharmonic's Principal Librarian Lawrence Tarlow, far left, along with Paul Beck and Apprentice Orchestra Manager Josh Davidoff.

I have learned over the past week that for an orchestra librarian, applause is self-generated. We don’t perform on stage, we aren’t broadcast on national television, and the audience doesn’t applaud for us after an exhilarating performance. In fact, we know that we have done our job the best when our work goes unnoticed by anyone. If a rehearsal doesn’t stop because of a wrong note, if a concert starts on time because all the parts are correctly distributed, we’ve done our job properly. The job of an orchestra librarian isn’t about the glory of the audience filling a concert hall and applauding for us at the end of a concert. It’s about making everything run smoothly, and smiling when a page turn that we fixed takes away the concerned face of a musician on stage.

However time-consuming the work is, and however little glory there is in the job, I enjoy this work because I know that I am helping to get the composer’s message across to the audience. I started in band when I was in fifth grade and have picked up music composition and arrangement on my own. As a composer myself, the composer’s message is something that I truly value in any musical work. Even after so many years, I still can’t describe why a particular progression of chords, rhythms, and notes, in just the right order, can evoke a certain emotion, or express a certain message. However, I know that each articulation, dynamic, and expression marking add specific nuances to the music that help get the message across to the musician, and then to the audience. Music is a journey. It starts with an inspiration, which gets composed into a musical work. Then, the music is prepared by the orchestra, and finally, performed for an audience. The greatest fulfillment for me comes when I know that I have done my best to make the starting inspiration come alive through the orchestra, and no detail is ever too little.

My apprenticeship with the NYO-USA to date has been nothing short of incredible. I’ve learned much more about music preparation, I’ve gotten to meet the finest of today’s music realm, and I’ve gotten to listen to the nation’s top 120 young musicians play together. The coast-to-coast tour starts in less than a week, and every day only increases in excitement and anticipation.

Learn more about the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

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