Christina C.

By George I think she's got it.

Published: Nov. 25, 2005 at 9:20 PM

After this weekend’s round of concerts, I am definitely quitting orchestras #2 & #3. I usually come to that conclusion this time of year when my work & concert schedule team up to leave me wishing for just enough of a sore throat to justify taking a sick day.

I have succeeded in cutting back in the past, but I end up back-sliding when one of the other groups programmes something I just can’t resist (I’m a sucker for Brahms). But I’ve had my fill & this time I think it’ll stick. The difference is that now I have more of a reason to leave… not to mention less of a reason to stay. Orchestra #1 is far & away the best in the bunch & I get less & less enjoyment from playing in these other groups. Meanwhile orchestra has become less of a priority now that I’m finally doing more chamber music, and with a little more effort… & time, I could be doing more.

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Sep. 13, 2005 at 8:15 PM

I came away from my first orchestra rehearsal somewhat dazed & confused by the sheer cacophony of it all, but the conductor took pity on us and took things below concert-tempo.. somewhat uncharacteristic for him.

I think my panicicken semi-hysteria managed to spin itself into a non-issue & I’m quite enjoying the calm now. I may actually succeed in sticking to the sensible practice approach… aka slow practice. This is doubly important as the other 2 orchestras I’ve agreed to play in have expanded the number of concerts in their season & like my primary orchestra, there are some very heavy pieces on their programmes. It all adds up to a great opportunity for the twinge in my wrist to resurface & develop into something nasty if I let it. The fact that I work as a programmer is no help, either.
Meanwhile the opportunities for chamber music seem to be coming around a little more frequently than they used to…. I’m ecstatic about that. and it’s all the more reason to make sure orchestra doesn’t consume me. It’s only the beginning, but so far, so good.

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Sep. 1, 2005 at 5:14 PM

“inside second stand, first violin, which is a position I like; close enough to see the conductor easily but without all the responsibility of first stand”

My sentiments, exactly!!!!

At the beginning of last season I was inside first stand, first violin. After the first concert I managed to worm back my way to third stand and was perfectly happy there for the rest of the season. In this particular orchestra, the section is chock full of strong players- I would say I’m middle of the pack- so it’s not a case of them needing me at first stand.
This year we’ve got some seriously heavy pieces & they’re going to take up a good chunk of my practice time just to avoid embarrassing myself. I was already worried about that especially as I find myself doing more chamber music & wanting to devote more time to playing & practicing for it… not to mention that I’ve agreed to play with 2 other groups that really do need me. So this week I got a sneak peek at the preliminary seating for this season: I’m right back at inside first stand, first violin.


Frankly I’m baffled. Maybe they go by attendance records?

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Aug. 17, 2005 at 8:15 PM

I’m back in the ol’ cubicle after the second of my 2 back-to-back vacations. I think I managed to get some R&R this time around… but it seemed very hectic all the same. Other than some heavy-duty errands, it was most great. Along with my usual orchestra gig, which was very lowess this time around, I even got to play an evening of 4tets, which was great…..outside of that my violin certainly got some rest.

Now it’s time to buckle down and get into the best possible playing shape so that the upcoming season is as enjoyable as possible, then continue to build from there. I’ve barely reached double digits in the exercises in ‘Basics’… so much for that plan. I had one particularly amazing practice session just before I left on vacation and I could’ve sworn I could detect improvement in my playing a couple of days later. It would be nice to experience more moments like that… and to string a couple of those back-to-back? Wow.

I’m already getting a little angsty because I may be lining myself up for another one of those lord-just-get-me-through-to-Christmas-vacation-and-then-I-can-collapse kind of seasons. I have a few more orchestral commitments than I’d like, especially in light of the fact that I hope to get involved in more chamber music. On the other hand I may be putting the cart before the horse again. I shouldn’t worry about that until I find myself actually having to turn down chamber music because of orchestra.

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Aug. 1, 2005 at 4:48 PM

Music camp has come & gone. I had a blast, playing almost 6 hours per day on most days- including 3 hours of coached groups. I successfully wormed my way out of playing in orchestra for the week, just had to do the dress & concert for the orchestra accompanying the choir. One of my coached groups turned out to be a concerto-grosso type group, which was fun, and aside from that everything else was chamber music. After the camp I extended my vacation to go with a friend to catch 3 days of a great chamber music festival. The least enjoyable concert was the most expensive one, otherwise it was an amazing 3 days.
That vacation was hardly restful, so as result I survived all of 8 hours back at work & had to take a sick-day the next day. It’s all good, though ‘cause now I only have to get through this week & I’m on vacation again… and this one will definitely include some rest & relaxation.
As well as getting some much-needed recovery-time this weekend I had a really great practice session: paid extra-close attention to detail during scales, arpeggios & double-stops, finally incorporated some etude work, and subjected myself to the metronome for my sight-reading practice, which makes me less likely to stop & go back when I mess up….i.e. nullifying the whole point of the exercise. Now if I could see to it that my practice sessions are like that on a regular basis, I’ll be on to something good.

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Jun. 23, 2005 at 4:30 PM

I’m getting a fairly steady trickle of chamber music at the moment. I need to take a moment to appreciate that fact because it kind of snuck up on me while I was focusing on having to play in orchestra for another week and the weekend chamber music getaway I can’t do because of orchestra. I’ve made good on my vow to be more proactive on the organizing front & between that, my regular group (2x/month) and last minute invites, this week & next week are all set. Things get a little trickier in July when my new violist of choice goes on vacation… it might be back to square one, but I’m at music camp for a week then anyway. Along those lines, I actually started looking at the viola clef this week... but I think it’ll be a long time before I actually attempt to try playing it in a group.

Broken record time- I also have to kick up my sight-reading practice. I’m having a blast with my chamber music get-togethers and doing a better job of the sight-reading would enhance the experience a thousand-fold.

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Jun. 2, 2005 at 7:01 PM

I’ve been trying to cut down on orchestra in order to do more chamber music…. and I’ve been succeeding….. until concert season kicked in and now my orchestral season has once again exploded on me. It should’ve been over in mid-May, but thanks to last minute calls from other community orchestras looking for help, it’s now been extended to the beginning of July.
The ability to say ‘No’ tends to allude me…. especially this time of year when after that last concert of the season there can be a serious dry spell & you risk going into withdrawal for lack of group music.. all the more reason to get serious about the chamber music.
At least conflicting concert dates narrowed it down to 2 extra groups rather than 3. I was a little apprehensive about accepting the second one because it’s an ambitious programme and I’ve only played 1 of the 6 pieces before, but my friend who also got recruited has just been to a rehearsal. The conductor is taking things very slow, so I should be fine, and the group is still struggling despite the slow tempos, so they’ll appreciate whatever I can contribute. The other group’s concert is in 2 days, so once that’s done I can turn my attention to learning the new pieces, but still get on with my plan to get a lot of chamber music going for the summer. Looking forward to it.

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May. 17, 2005 at 7:48 PM

Last modified: May. 17, 2005 at 7:57 PM

At my quartet get-together, the other violinist & I tried switching instruments for the heck of it. That lasted all of one note… or not even because when she tried to play a note on the ging… she couldn’t get it to sound…. at all. “Uhhh yeah” I said sheepishly as we switched back “… I guess I need to change my strings”

It’s nice when you can blame at least some of your crappy playing on your crappy equipment/set-up…. but when the crapiness is to the point that you’re adjusting your technique to compensate…and developing physical problems as a result (exhibit A: my twingy wrist)….. well, that’s just dumb.

I had my orchestra concert last weekend. For whatever reason, I failed to work myself into anything resembling a frenzy this time around, which was nice, but I also failed to practice in the days leading up to the concert, not so nice, but not the end of the world.

Orchestra-wise I just have a choral gig left, and so long as I continue to drill the few tricky spots, it should be fine and I’m looking forward to it, but now I can turn my attention to chamber-music and an attention-to-basics approach in my practice sessions.

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Mar. 24, 2005 at 11:54 PM

Last modified: Mar. 24, 2005 at 11:55 PM

Dvorak ticks me off. Seriously. I don’t know why but when it comes to sight-reading this guy’s music, there’s a good chance I’ll crash & burn.…. which puts me in a really foul mood. If I’m playing with others at the time, I’m libel to get snarky when faced with an adverse situation… such as …oh… I don’t know a violist who’s played the piece before and is trying to push the tempo & making things worse than they already are. An all-around bad situation as burning bridges & playing chamber-music are mutually exclusive: no matter how well you play, do too much of the former & you’ll find yourself deprived of the latter.
So using the what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-youonger approach, the latest pile of string quartets I took out of the music library for my sight-reading practice is all-Dvorak. Hopefully I’ll work through my Dvorak-induced psychosis in private, thus leaving less human carnage in my wake and more chamber music opportunities on the road ahead….especially as I’m participating in 3 chamber-music weekends pretty soon.. and those know-it-all violists always want to play Dvorak. ‘Nuff said.

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Mar. 17, 2005 at 5:02 PM

It’s pretty much an unspoken rule of orchestra: When someone cacks/blows/muffs/bloops a note (or two.. or five dozen) do not…. no matter what…. do not… at all costs… do not… I don’t care if their hair’s on fire or they’ve sprouted another nose… do NOT look at them. Don’t even look in their general direction. Don’t look at anyone, for that matter. Do not react or communicate in any way. If you’re not playing in the moments following the mishap, take the opportunity to examine your knees…. stare at them like you’ve never seen knees before. It’s just considered bad form to react to the incident and the perpetrator is probably having enough trouble recuperating without you drawing additional attention to them. Besides… one of these days the cacker/blower/muffer/blooper will be you… and you’ll be glad the rule exists.

My orchestra’s concert last weekend went surprisingly well. Given the hugely ambitious programme & the break-neck speeds we tend to go at, there was an extremely high potential for disaster. It’s a really awesome group but lately I’ve been disappointed with how our concerts turned out, so this was especially satisfying. Now we’re onto our next programme and it’s been radically changed from what was originally planned…. so I’m right back to disappointed ‘cause I really liked it before. On the up-side, with the killer concert behind me & the reduced interest in the next one, I’m looking forward to doing less repertoire work and devoting more attention to things that will enhance my chamber music playing, which is my priority… mainly sight-reading… or just reading music in general.. and some basic technique work, mainly my bow-arm. Jeez…. only my 3rd entry and I’m already repeating myself.

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