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Mendy Smith

Just a Shift to the Left

January 21, 2011 at 3:47 AM

 A few months ago I signed up for the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra's amateur chamber music program.  After signing up, I was assigned to a quartet who rehearses weekly and receive monthly coached sessions with the opportunity to perform in a spring recital.

We have been preparing and studying Schubert's Death and the Maiden Andante movement for a few months and have finally been able to make the last section "click".  It is the section which begins with an awesome cello solo at fff while the violins and violas play a 16th note rhythm, followed by what we term "rhythmic insanity":  16ths on triples, on duples, on a melodic cello solo.  

Having achieved this seemingly impossible feat, our coach told us it was time to pick another contrasting piece.  With help from fellow v-com'ers, we chose Haydn's Op. 76 No.4 "Sunset".  I will be playing 2nd violin for the Haydn , swapping instruments with our 2nd violinist (who also primarily a violist).  

Last Sunday we read through the piece for the first time.  It was a little difficult for me to play 2nd violin -  not due to the clef change, technical demands, or change in instrument size - but from the familiar strings being shifted over one notch to the left. From time to time I found myself playing a 3rd position A on what I thought was the D string only to discover that it wasn't the Ding that I was on, but the A.  It was quite embarrassing.

After that rehearsal, I went home and proceeded to make string markings on my music.  Not everywhere, but just where there is a string change in the same range that I play treble clef on viola: from about F on the D string to about G or so on the A string.   It is the shared treble clef that confuses my automatic left-hand movements.  These markings have helped me tremendously.   

With a little practice, I may turn out to be a decent violinist. 


From Christina C.
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM


Oh Mendy, I think all that death stuff has gotten to you.... 'Sunset 4tet'??? ;-P

From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 6:11 PM

 LOL!   It really is time to play something different!

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