September 9, 2009 at 3:42 AM
I recently returned from my annual week at chamber music camp for strings, where I tend to see many of the same people from year to year. On the first night, we form a circle and introduce ourselves, tell a bit about how long we've played, and what instrument we play. One woman always earned a laugh when she introduced herself this way: "My name is K__ and I play the second violin".
I am a second violinist. I too play the second violin.
For the last few years at camp, I've played with a core group during our chamber music ensembles times. This group has varied from 4-6, and we play repertoire accordingly...Schubert Cello Quintet, Brahms Sextets, Dvorak American. Last year we needed to replace our first violinist, so added Eric to our group. This year again Eric played with us, and a few times during the week he'd make comments about how it was time for me to dive into first violin parts.
Ah, you've been to Blue Lake (I've met K who plays 2nd violin).
Shhhh..... we're trying to keep it a secret!
Thank you for that post Dottie. I appreciated hearing about playing second violin from the perspective of someone who prefers it to playing first.
Back to lurking.
Many people think the "poorer" players should play in the second section. No way, the second violin parts are quite important supplying the tonality and harmony as you mentioned. If they don't sound good the whole orchestra or quartet suffers. In our local world class orchestra many of the second violinists are top solo quality.
In our Orchestra we get told the seconds are the backbone of the Orchestra and without seconds they could not function. So we have lots of seconds and are only too pleased to be so needed. Our leader of the seconds is very important and rehearses with us a lot and we love it.
Dottie, I love your explanation of the fun of playing second violin. I'm a second violinist, too. I've also found that my experience playing second violin helps me play backup, an important role, when I jam. A lot of the techniques I've learned and play almost instinctively as a second violinist in classical music fit well into bluegrass and other styles of improvisational music. I, too, love the "sneaky" way the backup violinist can shape the music while it is played, the importance of the texture, the effect of the rhythmic drive, and the type of harmony I can use to great effect. Sometimes I'm playing the only melody instrument and I have to belt out the melody strongly and clearly, and I get bored.
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