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V.com weekend vote: Which would you prefer to be: soloist, orchestra or chamber player, band member, recording artist?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: October 18, 2013 at 4:27 PM [UTC]

If you had things your way, would you be the soloist in the spotlight?

Or does your dream involve playing in a big orchestra, or maybe a small chamber group? Would you rather play in a touring rock band? Maybe your dream is to produce a successful album of original music; after all, the world has changed and with a few investments in technology, this is something you could do from your computer at home.

It's no longer true that "everyone who's anyone" wants to be a soloist. This was brought home to me as I wrote this week about the German violinist Martin Wulfhorst, for whom orchestra playing was never a second-choice career.

Putting practicality aside, if you could live your dream, what role would you take, as a violinist?


From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Unfortunately, possibly the most important category has been left out - that of teacher.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM
Being a teacher is incredibly important! I know, it's mostly what I do!

But this vote today is about playing -- one's own journey as a violinist. I hope most teachers of music also have some kind of love of playing as well!

From Danielle Martin
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Besides, after teaching, it's great to refresh the mind and fingers by just getting out the instrument and playing. For me, I have the most fun doing that with a group of friends, thus my desire to play with a chamber group again.
From Christina C.
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:18 PM
chamber! All the fun of playing with others but everyone gets their own part.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Chamber too! Soloist in a more egalitarian way, a lot of repertoire, portable and can be very challenging. What more can one ask for? :)
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:45 PM
Laurie, I take your point and so have now voted.
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Soloist with others (multiple soloists) as in three or four soloists playing with an orchestra.

Why? Because feeling like a "number" among many is no fun and feeling like the "king" alone on it's trone either (that is put VERY grossly but you know what I mean I hope :)

Alone is wonderful a few times as an experience and to break one's inner fears but after a while, you must feel it's always "all on you" and "all about you". Well, I imagine...

Pictures with a violin are nice but it must be nice with other people on them sometimes, just saying :)

That beeing said, many soloists are very generous and not snoothy at all as well as many orchestra musicians have their own solo activities...
Fun blog,
Anne-Marie

From Royce Faina
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:34 AM
I have enjoyed all of the above. I do lean towards a chamber group but orchestras are a rush too!
From Mendy Smith
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 1:45 AM
Chamber. No matter what part you play you are a soloist, supportive line, rhythm section, and conductor. Sometimes all in the same piece of music.
From Jim Hastings
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Chamber. For me, it's the right balance between individualism and teamwork. I like the interaction with the other players, and we each get to make our individual musical voices clearly heard.
From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM
I had to stop and think about this. If it's a career, then you have to take into account the life style and non-musical details of day-to-day work. I've read plenty on what it's like to be a professional orchestral musician or a soloist, but nothing on what it's like to be the member of a chamber ensemble. Guess I have to read Steinhardt's book on the Guarneri SQ,
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Orchestral. I've done some chamber music with people I met in orchestra and enjoyed that too, but I find it's a little intense. I watched the movie, "A Late Quartet," on a plane recently, and while my quartet has not had anything like those kinds of issues, I could still relate. And I admit I don't really see the attraction to having your own part. I'd rather be part of a section.

I also keep coming back to what I like to listen to on my own, and my first love is symphonies and orchestral music.

From David Beck
Posted on October 20, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Difficult to be happy playing in an orchestral section if your brain is screaming "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here !!".
From Paul Deck
Posted on October 20, 2013 at 6:48 PM
Chamber is the best. Think of a civilized afternoon playing some trios or quartets and having a glass of something refreshing. Lemonade, perhaps, or champagne, or a manhattan or two ...

Seriously, the great thing about being a chamber player is that not only your performances are with others -- but at least some of your rehearsal time is spent with others too. That's the trouble with violin study, much of it is so solitary. That's good, but only to a point.

From Emma Otto
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:24 AM
I was stuck between orchestral and soloist. If "soloist" refers to playing a solo with a symphony, that would be my choice. I did choose orchestral because that's my favorite general type of music, and I love the feeling of being in the middle of such a huge sound. I also enjoy the "competitive" factor of the youth symphony I'm in.
From Mark Roberts
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM
All of them except orchestral musician, I cannot undestand why anyone would want to be were brass play louder than the pain threshold and power-mad conductors.....

From Jim Hastings
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Continuing a bit from Mark's input: The dream of becoming a symphony player was what goaded me in childhood to switch from piano to violin. After some years of playing, I began heavy-duty training for the orchestral profession, starting in my late teens.

But onstage, the decibel levels in some modern symphonic scores got on my nerves -- well before they reached the danger zone. That and the evening hours -- plus some conductors' penchant for taking 10-15 minutes at a stretch to fine-tune woodwind and brass balances -- made me increasingly restless and made me see that I wouldn't be happy in this occupation. Even in solitary practice, I use ear protection.

Orchestral music is what I listen to more than any other music. Still, as my experience shows, hearing the music and actually being right in it as a player are quite different.

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 7:07 PM
I can't pick one category. I enjoy playing viola in a local orchestra, and would love to play chamber music. However, I also play fiddle in bluegrass jams, and the little group I meet with once a week would qualify as a band if I could persuade the others to at least go to an open stage or two. None of this qualifies as being a soloist, although in bluegrass everyone takes turns at it.

So much music, so little time...

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