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Sam Rubin

The Lone Violist

August 8, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Writing this one before running off to a 6 hour rehearsal.

40 Violins, 10 Cellos, 2 Basses and a single viola.

Is it legal to have to play Mozart at fff the whole time to try and get a sound over a symphony? I can't help but feel like I'm ruining the viola part, simply because I have to saw away so loud to even be heard.

Have a Nice Day

From Anna Heifetz
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Just a thought-- don't saw away too hard for too long, it's not good on the arms. You cannot compete so play as normal and that's all that can be asked.


From Paul Deck
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 2:56 PM
Sounds like you have job security at least.
From elise stanley
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 3:09 PM

...unless they are trying to kill off the violists and he's the last survivor...

From Andrew Kochie
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 3:49 PM
This is where I wish I could make violas with volume knobs and still be acoustic. HAHA.
From Sam Rubin
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 4:11 PM
The music is water music and mozart 25 so im playing alot in open positions to make the viola resonate that i think of it there were more violas in this concert last year....
From Sam Rubin
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM
That would be great....never enough violas togo around.
From Asher Wade
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Well, look at it like this: You're at least "unique" in this group(!); all the other players must feel that to get their musical parts heard, they need assistance from others and must feel that you can handle your musical 'line' quite sufficiently alone (I'd certainly take it as a compliment). Also, I would highly suggest that you don't attempt to play "as loud" as 10 violins, bec. that would only confirm your (possible) insecurity [like you've got to 'prove' something]; just play according to the dynamic indications on your sheet music and if no one can hear you, it "their" fault for not listening and thereby not playing as a true "ensemble" (i.e. it shows that they're having issues with their undisciplined egos, & they are attempting to play as if they were all soloists)!!!
From Sam Rubin
Posted on August 8, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I'm approaching it like that Asher :) I am just shocked by the fact that a group will play a concert so understaffed by violas... I wrote a little rant on a blog earlier about this, the advantage of this is that I am put on the spot and have to perform which only makes me better!
From Nairobi Young
Posted on August 9, 2012 at 12:22 AM
WHY IS THERE ONLY ONE VIOLIST!!! I understand completely the thought of ruining the viola part because of volume you must play at. That is soo ridiculous! Hope it won't last too long....won't that look really awkward? 20 first violins 20 second violins 10 big cellos and then one lonely violist. Do the best you can to honor the part :) least you don't have to worry about getting fired...?
From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 9, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Been there.... break a leg (not a bow). Also see if there is a cellist or two that can read alto clef and double up with you.
From Sam Rubin
Posted on August 9, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Well I'm actually volunteering my time to this youth orchestra for a concert, they had no violas and that is completely not cool! The skill of the cellists aren't up to that level yet...We're getting another violist for the concert who is very good so us two should be able to cover it now.... We need Viola Qoutas! So many young musicians (ones that start at around 5)start on violin and stay that way, that's what is happening here.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on August 9, 2012 at 8:26 PM
I remember those days... I am a violist as well (I like to say that because although trained on violin, I also legitimately trained on viola when I added it to my career. I didn't want to be another violinist who plays the viola. I wanted to be a violist in my own right and separate from being a violinist. In my area, however, it has not boosted my options to be flexible in such a way because there are too many violists! When does THAT happen? Not only in my local city, but the orchestras that I travel too are also not in need of violists. Strange, eh? I guess there is the fact that for violinists, there is a greater need due to the fact that there are two large sections to fill with able bodies whereas violas only have one medium sized section to fill with good players. The cello section has only one, but it is larger than the viola section. *sigh. It has one major payoff. Well, two. Teaching in theory... I see so many violinists on rosters for teachers who list themselves as violin and viola instructors. I personally know that they don't even own a functional viola. *insert scream here*. I feel comfortable saying that I teach both, though. At least I did before I moved and lost my students. The other plus is in chamber music. String trios more so that string have a much more enjoyable role and part. I started a string trio for precisely that reason. The Beethoven String Trios are amazingly difficult for the violist as he has you alternately playing with or counter to the violin and cello. It is a counting nightmare. But you also have beautiful parts and your attention to details and dynamics and articulations make or break the ensemble.

I think that I overstepped the topic of this post, so I'll end with "hmm" Wow. That was introspective! He he. The all-saying "hmmm..."

From Sam Rubin
Posted on August 10, 2012 at 1:13 PM
I've been training on violin because I want to be a music teacher, and most teachers I know teach from the violin (Bummer!).

That's an odd situation...Outside of one quintet I've never had to play violin instead of viola.
...I had to play a string trio a few weeks ago and I forgot about the beethoven's....darn that was dumb.

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on August 10, 2012 at 7:27 PM
The Beethoven trios are amazing, but most of the mvt.s are really tricky rhythmically speaking and complex. The first mvt. of Op.3 might be readable, but I'd be weary of using it for gig music. It is more like the kind of parlour music of our age. Satisfying in a way gig music cannot be, appealing to the musician inside and not the string player for hire :)

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