February 2, 2008 at 2:04 AMMy 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.]
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