Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Which would you prefer to be: soloist, orchestra or chamber player, band member, recording artist?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: October 18, 2013 at 4:27 PM [UTC]

If you had things your way, would you be the soloist in the spotlight?

Or does your dream involve playing in a big orchestra, or maybe a small chamber group? Would you rather play in a touring rock band? Maybe your dream is to produce a successful album of original music; after all, the world has changed and with a few investments in technology, this is something you could do from your computer at home.

It's no longer true that "everyone who's anyone" wants to be a soloist. This was brought home to me as I wrote this week about the German violinist Martin Wulfhorst, for whom orchestra playing was never a second-choice career.

Putting practicality aside, if you could live your dream, what role would you take, as a violinist?

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Unfortunately, possibly the most important category has been left out - that of teacher.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 5:18 PM
Being a teacher is incredibly important! I know, it's mostly what I do!

But this vote today is about playing -- one's own journey as a violinist. I hope most teachers of music also have some kind of love of playing as well!

From Danielle Martin
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Besides, after teaching, it's great to refresh the mind and fingers by just getting out the instrument and playing. For me, I have the most fun doing that with a group of friends, thus my desire to play with a chamber group again.
From Christina C.
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:18 PM
chamber! All the fun of playing with others but everyone gets their own part.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Chamber too! Soloist in a more egalitarian way, a lot of repertoire, portable and can be very challenging. What more can one ask for? :)
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 6:45 PM
Laurie, I take your point and so have now voted.
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 18, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Soloist with others (multiple soloists) as in three or four soloists playing with an orchestra.

Why? Because feeling like a "number" among many is no fun and feeling like the "king" alone on it's trone either (that is put VERY grossly but you know what I mean I hope :)

Alone is wonderful a few times as an experience and to break one's inner fears but after a while, you must feel it's always "all on you" and "all about you". Well, I imagine...

Pictures with a violin are nice but it must be nice with other people on them sometimes, just saying :)

That beeing said, many soloists are very generous and not snoothy at all as well as many orchestra musicians have their own solo activities...
Fun blog,

From Royce Faina
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:34 AM
I have enjoyed all of the above. I do lean towards a chamber group but orchestras are a rush too!
From Mendy Smith
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 1:45 AM
Chamber. No matter what part you play you are a soloist, supportive line, rhythm section, and conductor. Sometimes all in the same piece of music.
From Jim Hastings
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Chamber. For me, it's the right balance between individualism and teamwork. I like the interaction with the other players, and we each get to make our individual musical voices clearly heard.
From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM
I had to stop and think about this. If it's a career, then you have to take into account the life style and non-musical details of day-to-day work. I've read plenty on what it's like to be a professional orchestral musician or a soloist, but nothing on what it's like to be the member of a chamber ensemble. Guess I have to read Steinhardt's book on the Guarneri SQ,
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Orchestral. I've done some chamber music with people I met in orchestra and enjoyed that too, but I find it's a little intense. I watched the movie, "A Late Quartet," on a plane recently, and while my quartet has not had anything like those kinds of issues, I could still relate. And I admit I don't really see the attraction to having your own part. I'd rather be part of a section.

I also keep coming back to what I like to listen to on my own, and my first love is symphonies and orchestral music.

From David Beck
Posted on October 20, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Difficult to be happy playing in an orchestral section if your brain is screaming "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here !!".
From Paul Deck
Posted on October 20, 2013 at 6:48 PM
Chamber is the best. Think of a civilized afternoon playing some trios or quartets and having a glass of something refreshing. Lemonade, perhaps, or champagne, or a manhattan or two ...

Seriously, the great thing about being a chamber player is that not only your performances are with others -- but at least some of your rehearsal time is spent with others too. That's the trouble with violin study, much of it is so solitary. That's good, but only to a point.

From Emma Otto
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 1:24 AM
I was stuck between orchestral and soloist. If "soloist" refers to playing a solo with a symphony, that would be my choice. I did choose orchestral because that's my favorite general type of music, and I love the feeling of being in the middle of such a huge sound. I also enjoy the "competitive" factor of the youth symphony I'm in.
From Mark Roberts
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM
All of them except orchestral musician, I cannot undestand why anyone would want to be were brass play louder than the pain threshold and power-mad conductors.....

From Jim Hastings
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Continuing a bit from Mark's input: The dream of becoming a symphony player was what goaded me in childhood to switch from piano to violin. After some years of playing, I began heavy-duty training for the orchestral profession, starting in my late teens.

But onstage, the decibel levels in some modern symphonic scores got on my nerves -- well before they reached the danger zone. That and the evening hours -- plus some conductors' penchant for taking 10-15 minutes at a stretch to fine-tune woodwind and brass balances -- made me increasingly restless and made me see that I wouldn't be happy in this occupation. Even in solitary practice, I use ear protection.

Orchestral music is what I listen to more than any other music. Still, as my experience shows, hearing the music and actually being right in it as a player are quite different.

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on October 21, 2013 at 7:07 PM
I can't pick one category. I enjoy playing viola in a local orchestra, and would love to play chamber music. However, I also play fiddle in bluegrass jams, and the little group I meet with once a week would qualify as a band if I could persuade the others to at least go to an open stage or two. None of this qualifies as being a soloist, although in bluegrass everyone takes turns at it.

So much music, so little time...

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