April 2014

Are Some Musicians Better At Being A Soloist Than Playing In An Ensemble?

April 13, 2014 09:52

I have always enjoyed listening to orchestral and chamber music. I love the way musicians in chamber groups are able to hold their own when playing their parts as well as communicating (musically) with each other. As a music major, I do not have a choice to play only solo works, only chamber or orchestral music. I have to do it all. The problem for me is that I am not good at performing in an ensemble. I hate playing with other people. It is too distracting. I prefer playing on my own. I feel as though I come alive more when I am playing alone than in a group. My tone sounds different from everyone else's tone. My rhythms do not match. Even my bow feels different, as though it is not a part of me. My instrument feels alien to me and I don't know what to do with it because I am trying to blend with other people. This is not easy for me. I seem to march to the beat of my own drum and when I have to play with other people I seem to loose a big part of my soul as a player. My playing becomes dead and I am not as loud as everyone else. Yet, when I am playing a solo piece, I receive so many compliments from people about my "big" sound and "beautiful, unique tone". It does not matter how hard I try to be as loud and confident as everyone else in orchestra and chamber, I just can't seem to do it. I have read several anecdotes about famous musicians, such as Jacqueline du Pre, and their issues with not measuring up as orchestral or chamber players. This led me to wonder whether if some musicians, no matter how talented they are, are just better as soloists or playing in ensembles. Is that my issue? Does anyone know of famous musicians who were better as soloists or performing in ensembles? I would really like to hear their stories because it will help me with self-esteem issues I am having as a musician. My lack of talent as an ensemble player has caused me to wonder if I should even continue playing.

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