March 23, 2011 at 04:06 AM ·

So I'm fortunate enough to be traveling as concert master of my school orchestra going to Italy. I and 3 others, was asked to solo the "vivaldi quad. concerto". We sound great at it, but I find it akward standing with nothing to do for 10-15measures of rest. What should I do to 1. not look bored/awkward 2. still have the look that I'm into the piece, and not counting rests

Put instrument down? keep it on my shoulder? look out at the audience?look at the music? look at the other soloists/orchestra? look into space?

This can be good for others in the same problem (Beethoven concerto introduction/ stamitz concerto with a billion rests at beginning) Thanks!

Replies (28)

March 23, 2011 at 04:47 AM ·


it`s not really a problem.  You certainly don`t keep the instrument up.  Justhold it with its botty pointing down at around waist level.   I tend to look down a little bit rather than making eye contact with the audience and juts listen really carefully to the music.  That process in itself make syou look genuine (because it is genuine) and gets rid of useless nerves tension (as opposed to the useful kind.  In the Vivaldi ther eis no rul that says you can`t start a few bars earlie ran dplay along with the orchestra.   I have seen Milstein happily joining in the orchestral part of the opening of the Beethoven concerto.



March 23, 2011 at 11:55 AM ·

I like to use such opportunities to catch up with my mail, polish my violin, do a bit of twittering, etc.! ;-)

OK, seriously, I would hold the violin in whatever way is comfortable for me, and usually look towards the source of the other person(s) playing, as an appreciative audience myself, or look down, but in a way that shows that I'm following and appreciating what I'm hearing from my colleague(s).

PS I agree re playing along with some of the tutti in the Beethoven. I've seen Oliveira do that,too. It keeps you warmed-up, and helps relieve a bit of nervous tension.

March 23, 2011 at 01:30 PM ·

I find it a good opportunity to reapply my lipstick.

March 23, 2011 at 02:55 PM ·

Another possibility is tucking the fiddle under your arm.

Look at the violinists on youtube and see what they do. It would be fun to see a list of what everybody does.

March 23, 2011 at 03:16 PM ·

"still have to look that I'm into the piece"

umm... you SHOULD be into the piece! Unless it's a grand pause, there's music going on somewhere. Solo or not, you're part of something larger & you should be fully engaged in it.

March 23, 2011 at 03:47 PM ·

 It's Vivaldi.  Play the tuttis; it's what he meant for you to do anyway.

March 23, 2011 at 03:54 PM ·

Cigarette and a beer. Rubix cube. Harry Potter book.

March 23, 2011 at 04:10 PM ·

Check the soccer scores in The Florence Gazette.  Try to count Berlusconi's babes.  Try to imagine if it's possible there really was THAT much garlic in last night's dinner.  Play a hand of gin rummy with the cellist.

March 23, 2011 at 05:10 PM ·

 I agree with the posters who say play the tutti part: originally the concertmaster led the orchestra while soloing, and playing makes that easier.  You'll be so traditional, stay warmed up, and be in the groove. (course you hafta memorize the tutti...)

March 23, 2011 at 05:27 PM ·

Ever watched Rafael Nadal play tennis?  You could try doing what he does before every serve :)

Seriously though, I find it fun to watch when a performer is alert & engaged -- and enjoying the music, not just stressing out about the next thing they have to play -- during rests.  Don't be afraid to look around a little -- the audience won't hurt you (probably), and your colleagues in the orchestra can be fun to watch. 

March 23, 2011 at 05:54 PM ·

 Many years ago I saw Pierre Fournier play the Dvorak cello concerto in Bristol's Colston Hall – that's the concerto with about 80 bars orchestral introduction. Two bars to go and our man started fishing in his pocket for his handerchief. Handerchief duly found, used, and returned to pocket with one beat left before the solo entry – which was executed spot on. I think the conductor was having kittens. 

Much more recently, in what was one of my last outings as an orchestral cellist, we were giving a performance of Haydn's D maj cello concerto with a young soloist from one of the London colleges. During the performance I realized he was quietly playing the tutti cello part in the introduction (from memory) even though he hadn't done so in the dress rehearsal. 

March 23, 2011 at 07:24 PM ·

@Bruce, thanks for that link.  If I ever meet Nadal, I'll remember NOT to shake his hand. 

March 23, 2011 at 08:15 PM ·

Tutti parts yes, play along.  But please do not play along with any of the other 3 soloists' parts dear.

March 23, 2011 at 10:11 PM ·

Yes of course I play the Tutti parts. Its the times that have a measure with a bold black line with the number 11 or 20 above it. And Yes I am always "into" the piece (didn't really convey my thoughts well) I meant as in watching the measure with the big number 11 over top of it like its the most interesting thing.

I think I know what I'll do. I'm just scared that if I put my instrument down my shoulder rest will fall (again...) or if i tuck underneath my arm I'll apply too much pressure to teh tail piece and SNAPSNAPSNAP go the strings on accident (happened while violin is quite accident prone). ahah Thank you!



March 24, 2011 at 11:32 PM ·

The thread reminded me right away of this 2005 performance of Josh Bell and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra playing the Beethoven VC.

Although Josh doesn't join in the opening tutti, notice how he turns toward and watches one section of the orchestra and then another during it.  I like the idea of playing the tutti, especially this one, which lasts over 3 minutes.

Side note: I never get over what a big sound this lean ensemble can generate.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Check out also this clip of Chuanyun Li on Wieniawski's Faust Fantasy -- violin/piano version.  I personally like his way of turning away from the audience and facing toward the accompanist during the piano-only stretches -- notably the intro and then the lead-up, starting just after 5:55, to the part known as Mefisto's Song -- or Devil's Dance.  I'm all in favor, too, of the little bit of on-stage walking that he does.

March 25, 2011 at 12:58 AM ·


Jim, I like that performance too. I`ve had it book marked for years...



March 25, 2011 at 01:21 AM ·

Buri, about the bookmarked performance -- did you mean the Beethoven or the Wieniawski?  I went back and re-checked the upload stats.  The Beethoven went up in 2007; Wieniawski in 2008.

Thanks. -- J.

P. S.  I love the audio quality of both uploads -- and the reverb in each hall.  I'm doing playback through external stereo speakers on a desktop system.

March 25, 2011 at 01:44 AM ·

I normally dont do solos (I play viola) but I would just relax if I were you. Let the music fill your soul. As a famous violinist put it " I am not a handsome man, but my music makes people think that I am handsome" Guess what violinist said that? But as he stated, it dosent matter what your physical features are, just play your heart out each and every time you play. You could be wearing a cutoff t-shirt that said something really depressing, but the people wont know what you are wearing unless they look at you. All that matters is the music. Hope that helps.....

March 25, 2011 at 02:35 AM ·


the Beethoven.  I rate Bell as a wonderfulplayer. He ha slots of little nuances in hi splaying handed down through Gingold that othe rplayers just don`t have.



March 25, 2011 at 03:49 AM ·

Buri, thanks -- that was my first guess.  I agree with you about Josh as a player.

March 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM ·

It seems to me that whatever you do, you don't want to "get in the way" of the music and draw the audience's attention away from it.

March 26, 2011 at 08:43 PM ·

OK, here are some other things you can do while waiting:

1.  Do isometric exercises.
2.  Practice your Tai Chi
3.  Floss your teeth.
4.  Write the first chapter of your novel.
5. Grade papers.
6. Pay a few bills.
7. Re-write the cadenza.

See!! There's always something practical you can do.

March 27, 2011 at 03:04 PM ·

"I find it a good opportunity to reapply my lipstick."

That is amazing Marina!!

That's just what I do too, and a bit of eye shadow as well ...

March 27, 2011 at 03:46 PM ·

If I were the soloist I would run out to the rest room, lock myself in a stall and never come out.  Too scary for me.  All those eyes watching!

March 28, 2011 at 05:00 AM ·

And this is why I read this discussion board.  Thanks for the chuckles everyone, heading to bed now.  :-)

March 28, 2011 at 06:35 AM ·

Sitting on the stage waiting?  Mentally undress each member of the audience.  Best to hold your violin up upside down to mask your guffaws. 

March 28, 2011 at 08:40 AM ·

I don't know about you, but when I perform, I am role playing all of the aspects of the music, like dialogue being communicated amongst players and to the audience.  Even when I am not speaking, I am listening and feeling the emotion of the moment empathetically, as though responding to someone else's contribution to the conversation.  If you aren't listening, you aren't part of the conversation.

Of course, there are those times when you need to check your strings and the tension of your bow hair, among other things.  This is a good time to assess your gear for possible malfunctions.

March 28, 2011 at 12:54 PM ·

Being serious for a change (at last!! I hear you say) I would totally agree with Emily. You have to be a part of the performance even when not playing.

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