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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Do you like sitting outside or inside in orchestra?

February 2, 2008 at 2:04 AM

My first reaction is, on the outside, of course. When you are sitting on the outside, you get to play the top part, which is very often the higher, funner, more melodic part. It also means that your stand partner turns the pages, relieving you of that worry. Usually in a violin section, the outside person is on the right, so it also means you get a fairly unobstructed view of the music.

Sitting on the inside, which is usually the left, your stand partner's scroll can often be straight in your line of vision. You play the bottom part when it is divided, and it is your responsibility to turn pages. I can remember this being a big problem for me, a leftie, in my early days of orchestra playing. I kept trying free my left hand to turn the pages, and that's not easy. I'd remove my violin from my shoulder, hold it with my right hand, then reach WAY over to turn the pages with my left hand. This took way too much time: the page was always turned late; and it was ridiculously awkward. I still remember when a stand partner and good friend, Margaret, frustrated with me but patient, gave me a turn-paging tutorial:

"Like this," she whispered. Keeping the violin on her shoulder, she fanned her left fingers and placed the middle of the bow stick between her index and middle finger. She let go of bow, freeing her right hand. She turned the page with right hand, and then grabbed the frog of her bow again and was ready to play. She made me practice doing the same.

It was one of the most useful lessons I ever had.

After that, I could turn pages expertly, and sitting on the inside became a lot easier. Playing the bottom part can be quite fun, too, especially in something like, oh, Petrouchka, where your one little inside-player second violin note is what changes the entire harmony of a passage. And in many first violin parts, the inside part is just simply way easier, often an octave lower. Not bad, if you're having a sleepy day!

By the way, in some orchestras, the second violin section sits to the right of the conductor, and thus the outside player is the one on the left, and the inside player is the one on the right!

So which do you prefer, sitting on the outside or the inside? By the way, I resisted the temptation to call this one "do you like being on top or bottom"? ;)

[Sorry - the poll host ate the original poll question, then substituted some random poll for a while. We've replaced it, but the votes reset to zero, so please, do vote again if you did earlier. Sorry for the glitch.]

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 2:39 AM
I prefer to sit on the right. If the seating has us on the other side of the orchestra, that puts me on the inside, but typically I sit on the outside. But always on the right. It's a scoliosis thing.
From Bethany Morris
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 2:57 AM
I can see better on the left than the right, because when I'm on the right I'm practically looking over my shoulder to keep my scroll out of my stand partner's line of vision. I don't mind turning pages, playing easier parts, and sometimes not playing at all.
From Tara S.
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 4:02 PM
I also can see better sitting on the left, both music and conductor.
From Patricia Baser
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 5:44 PM
I have much better vision on the left of the stand and I am also a very fast page-turner.
From Michael Schallock
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 6:27 PM
left..much better sightline and no stiff neck from tilting funny trying to see.
Also, everyone thinks I am just being nice offering to sit inside but it is just easier for me to see and play.
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 6:33 PM
I really don't care which side I sit on!
From Ray Randall
Posted on February 2, 2008 at 8:08 PM
Sitting on the inside you can text message and play video games and the
audience is none the wiser. ;)
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on February 3, 2008 at 1:55 AM
Hmmm, its kind of weird, but now that I think of it, I think I've only sat on the inside once, so I really can't decide. I agree it's easier to see the conductor on the left, but on the right, I'm not as worried about hitting someone with my bow arm. So, eh, I'm fine either way really.
From Michelle Diehl
Posted on February 3, 2008 at 2:02 AM
While I prefer to sit on the outside, sitting on the inside can be fun. Sometimes I would to tease my stand partner by fumbling around on a page turn. If they get a panicked look on their face you know they haven't memorized the measures on the next page. BTW, don't try this during a live performance!
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 4, 2008 at 1:25 AM
Same outfit tabulated the 2000 election.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 4, 2008 at 7:39 AM
I know, but you're all registered to vote! Sorry!

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