At my high school, my orchestra teachers lead us to believe we are all the same. We do not do seating auditions. I am a freshman in high school this year, but this started causing me problems last year.
Many of my peers are lead to believe that we all have the same playing abilities, although there is clearly a difference. I will not lie, I am one of a few people that are clearly stronger than the rest - and I don't expect to be treated any differently because of it - but I expect that I am recognized for my abilities in the sense that I am not placed in the back row because nobody else can play, and they're trying to make up for it. We don't have principal seats, and we don't have playing tests to determine them. I feel this is a major mistake.
I feel like my peers have no reason to try harder - no point of embarrassment to avoid by being last chair for a section. No reason to work harder to move up and improve. No. My school would rather "avoid the competition." Now, I'm not going to lie, it seems like a good idea, but it's not. It creates even more problems.
For example - last year, I was selected to play the solo for our state orchestra competition (ISSMA). But nobody thought it was fair for me to play it since they didn't have a playing test to determine it. Which is true, I don't blame them, but it wasn't my choice not to do that. I was just told I would be playing the solo. But for the next two weeks after that, as far as my "friends" in orchestra went, I was all they could talk about. Apparently I was a know it all and I thought I was better than everyone else and stuck up... When in reality, I'm very quiet and I keep to myself and I'm not any of those things. People who didn't really even know me were judging me. "Friends" were turning against me. I'll be honest, I listen to people around me. Those who were complaining, couldn't even play the solo. But because we have never had seating auditions, nobody knows where they stand. We honestly aren't all equal.
But for me, for someone who can play anything handed to me (as far as this orchestra's level goes) there isn't an in-school alternative for me. They won't bump me up to symphonic, although I clearly play at that level. I can't play in the elite large chamber music ensemble. I can't do pit for the fall/spring plays. All because I am "only a freshman" and "adjusting to the school" therefore "I can't handle it right now."
Outside of school, I am a first violin with the juniors and seniors in my county's Youth Honor's Orchestra. I am in danger of being put into second with the rest of my friends because "I'm a freshman" so I should be with them, even though I can clearly play the music, and I can play it well. Why?
My rant is over.
Violinist.com is made possible by...
Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.