"You don't need grades and we don't hold auditions."

Well, we are in unknown territory now and have been since our last full and normal rehearsal in March 2020!
The option we chose was to be inventive, stick with the official government guidelines and grab any opportunities coming our orchestra's way!

Photographs taken at our Sleigh Ride Concert at St John's, November 2019. Grateful thanks to Elaine Sandford and Jack Nicol for their super photos!


Sleigh Ride concert


Sleigh Ride concert


Photographs taken at our Sleigh Ride Concert at St John's, November 2019. Grateful thanks to Elaine Sandford and Jack Nicol for their super photos!


Photographs taken at our Sleigh Ride Concert at St John's, November 2019.
Grateful thanks to Elaine Sandford and Jack Nicol for their super photos!

So, what has the North Downs Community Orchestra been up to during the Corona Virus Pandemic?

Trying a variety of activities aimed at engaging with our members.

New for 2020:

A monthly members' 'Newletter', since June 2020.

Virtual 'Playalongs' via Zoom, open to all members, 2nd and 4th Wednesdays as per our 'normal' rehearsal evenings.

Some new/different rep to have a go with including 'Hymn to the Angels'.

'Garden Strings' and 'Garden Percussion' - small group rehearsals held in a private garden, restricted to 6 people from different households, meeting outside, socially distanced at 2m,  and conducted by our MD.

Members' survey to help the committee with future developments, to choose some favourite rep and to assess how we've been getting on during Lockdown.

Further 6 person small groups in September with our MD at a sports pavilion verandah - trying to beat the light and the rain!

We have created our own thorough Risk Assessment working from the Making Music template and set our summary of protocols to be followed for each venue we're using.

2020 AGM via Zoom

Autumn term small group rehearsals starting to proceed indoors!

New rep to prepare for our next concert whenever that might be!

Super new indoor venue for socially distanced micro rehearsals (12 people) - St Andrew's Church Hall, Limpsfield Chart, Thursdays.  (Booking in advance is essential)

Another super indoor venue in our lovely former 'green room' in The York rooms at St John's Church, Hurst Green, some Wednesdays.  Same arrangements as for St Andrews - book in advance, maintain 2m social distancing at all times.

Virtual playalongs may become Zoom calls from in person rehearsals...

Yes they did but very briefly!

Back to Lockdown 2!  At least we have our Virtual playalongs to fall back on...and we're giving virtual sectionals a go now as well.

Hoping to be back soon to our small, socially distanced and incredibly rewarding small rehearsals after lockdown 2.

Good to go here in Tier 2, but very important for members to consider all the angles before deciding whether to book a place to attend.  Unfortunately those living in tier 3 must not travel to attend.  Probably be roles reversed in another fortnight or two!

Many a true word spoken in jest. 

Quick visit to Tier 3 and onto Tier 4 and now it's lockdown 3.

Back with Virtual Playalongs on our normal '2nd and 4th Wednesdays'.  From February we are adding Virtual Strings on 1st Thursdays and Virtual Wind on 3rd Thursdays.  We also have 2 new pieces of rep and one 're-cycled' from our music library.

Same for March.

PLUS an end of term 'Party Pieces' 5th Wednesday evening (via Zoom) where members are asked to play solos or household group pieces to a very supportive audience.  This will also mark 5 years since our orchestra's very first rehearsal.


Now we are a year into the Pandemic and still looking forward optimistically!

We are sticking with our 2nd and 4th Wednesdays as ever.  Currently they are Virtual Playalongs.  We hope, but the end of May step, we could be indoors somewhere and maybe orgainising activites in bigger numbers than 14 if we can find a venue big enough for social distancing.

From May 18th we are now permitted to hold rehearsals in socially distanced numbers bigger than one group of 6!  HOORAY - it's been a long time on Zoom!

We expect to be running approximately 4 in-person sessions a month, final details are just being confirmed.  First up strings and percussion Wednesday, 26th May 2021.

Get in touch if you would like to come along with your orchestral instrument!

Recent blog posts.

As a Community Orchestra, we always to do our best to accommodate new members.  Do get in touch if you would like to give playing in our orchestra a try.  We have parts for all orchestral instruments and we don't limit the numbers of popular instruments.  

Plenty of room for more, we have a big rehearsal venue!  You could also check us out at our next concert.  But we'd prefer you to visit a rehearsal sooner!

We're a fun, friendly, amateur Orchestra open to all musicians who play an orchestral instrument. Our members live in the stunning North Downs region of Surrey, Kent, East & West Sussex & Southern London.

In our ranks we're beginners, maestros and the rather rusty who haven't played for a while. Our shared love of music, fun and giving a chance to  those who want the opportunity to play in an Orchestra is what brings us together. It is not complicated but it is great fun.Join us on this fantastic journey.

Some quick facts about the North Downs Community Orchestra
When we began in 2016
20% of our members had never played in an orchestra before
33% of our members have been learning the instrument they play in the orchestra
40% of our members hadn't played their instrument for several years
100% of our members are great fun, really nice people
In June 2019
37% of our members joined in 2016 and, by some quirk of statistics
21%  joined in 2017
21% joined in 2018
21% joined in 2019
So, you can see recruitment is VERY steady and a significant number of our 'original' members are still with us.  We have well over 40 regular players and all sections of the orchestra covered. Come and join them - we can break this 21% trend and aim for more than 21% for 2019 not to mention 2020!  All orchestral instruments are welcome, of course, but in particular, we'll do anything we can to help more brass players and string players into our orchestra and even have a couple of basic violins we can lend out to violinists who are currently without.
north downs community orchestra amateur beginner surrey kent