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Does anyone else PREFER playing second?
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JackL
Andros Island, Bahamas
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September 29, 2013 - 8:38 pm
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I like playing second fiddle.

It's not that I lack talent, confidence, or even skill--allowing, of course, for the fact that I only picked up fiddle seriously a bit less than two years ago. Of course I hear every little mistake I make, and have to stifle a cringe every time, but apparently most folks who are listening aren't nearly as picky.  People whose ears I trust have said consistently that I'm very good for having played the instrument for such a relatively short time. I do suspect that several decades' experience on other instruments gave me a head start during transition to the violin family.

Maybe it's because I've accompanied singers a lot, to such an extent that I get asked to do so. Maybe it's because I enjoy mastering less obvious (or more subtle) parts, and am convinced that well-conceived and well-executed harmony can really take a song to the next level. Maybe it's just some kind of cockamamie Middle Kid Syndrome, all growed up. Whatever the reason, I actually prefer playing second fiddle if given the choice.

I'm curious: Does anyone else here feel the same way?

 And/or is this outlook generally considered pathological? :D

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HDuaneaz
Chandler, Arizona
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September 29, 2013 - 9:26 pm
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I have played in a few orchestras in my day, and I have always played second violin, once I played third violin. I don't mind it at all.

 

I'm afraid if I ever played first violin, I might feel like a fish out of water.

Duane

 

"Violin is one of the joys of my life."

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RosinedUp
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September 30, 2013 - 2:19 am
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In grade school and high school I hated playing 2nd or 3rd cornet.  That was because I couldn't read music---in particular, couldn't count rhythms.  The 1st cornets almost always carried the melody of the piece, so I could figure the 1st-part fingerings from the sheet and play the rhythm by ear.  In other words, 1st was usually a lot easier for me.

Later I learned to count, and one time I was so into playing the 2nd part that I started wrongheadedly showing off, playing it very loud, and the band director stopped the practice wanting to know who was playing too loud.smile

 

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DanielB
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September 30, 2013 - 2:44 am
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I haven't done orchestra or played violin in a group of any sort at this point.  But from assorted types of combos/bands with different instruments over the years, I prefer to play support roles.

Not to say I didn't always take my solos, but I always preferred to keep them "short and to the point" and put considerably more work in on making sure the song/piece went well for the singer and other players when they did their solo bits. 

Even on violin/fiddle, I spend a fair bit of my daily practice time doing what would be called "rhythm guitar and short fills". I see that as being what I would use the instrument for most of the time if I someday end up playing it in a band or combo.  Keeping the rhythm moving along and adding a bit of spice at some strategic points.  Making the song or piece sound good is the important bit, in my opinion, rather than just living waiting for the solo parts to cut loose and have some fun. 

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 30, 2013 - 6:13 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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I played in Malmo Symphony Orchestra as one of the principle 2nd violinists for 16 years. Before that I had never played 2nd violin. Just prior to that I was a concert master in Gavle Symphony Orchestra for 4 years and a first violinists or concert master in most of my work up until I landed the permanent positions.
When I got the job as a principle in Malmo I thought everything was going to be easy and a walk in the park. Turns out that very often, a second violin part is harder than a first. With a lot of the works, the inner parts are not as logical. The most difficult part of playing 1st violin vs 2nd is that you need to be good at reading and playing way up high on the E string. Once you have mastered your reading skills way up high on the fingerboard, it's not more difficult. Both 1st and 2nd can be equally fulfilling when playing great music.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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EJ-Kisz
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September 30, 2013 - 11:16 am
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I definitely agree with Pierre there!

I've played 2nd & 3rd Trumpet early on and remember that I wanted to play the 1st trumpet part because it carried the melody.  In reality, it was because it was easier to figure out and play! LOL  

I did learn to appreciate the 2nd parts and started to love them because when played correctly, it adds so much to a piece!  A great song is many pieces played together, not just one! ;-)  

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

SkullSmall-1.jpg

 

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Mad_Wed
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September 30, 2013 - 5:16 pm
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Hmmmm. I like to play the part i like (if that makes sense).. I don't care about the number of it =)dunno

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laserbrainz
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September 30, 2013 - 11:31 pm
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Doesn't seem crazy to me to like to play the "supporting" role, especially not in a large group or orchestra situation. People who like big music (or truly understand any music) understand the importance of all the notes being played. I sang alto in choirs and small groups in high school, and I had to ask to sing alto cause my directors always wanted me to sing soprano, but I liked alto because we usually got harmonies instead of melodies and I loved being part of what made the music really special, which is taking a beautiful melody and emphasizing it with harmonies. I guess some people might think being "second" anything means being second best, but in reality it takes all the parts to make a masterpiece.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 1, 2013 - 7:30 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Very true. :-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Crazymotive
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October 3, 2013 - 5:38 pm
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laserbrainz said
Doesn't seem crazy to me to like to play the "supporting" role, especially not in a large group or orchestra situation. People who like big music (or truly understand any music) understand the importance of all the notes being played. I sang alto in choirs and small groups in high school, and I had to ask to sing alto cause my directors always wanted me to sing soprano, but I liked alto because we usually got harmonies instead of melodies and I loved being part of what made the music really special, which is taking a beautiful melody and emphasizing it with harmonies. I guess some people might think being "second" anything means being second best, but in reality it takes all the parts to make a masterpiece.

Very true. In an orchestra many people assume being "2nd violin" means that we just support or back up the first violin section. Or that we are in the 2nd violin section because we are not as good as the firsts.  But that isn't the case. It depends a lot on the composer and the piece we are playing.  Often we play the same musical phrases as the first but we play a lower register. Sometimes we both play the same notes at the same time. Other times we may lead ahead of the firsts in a musical phrase and the firsts follow, echoing what we just played and vice versa, such as we do at the beginning of Beethovens 5th.  As you put it so well, all parts are important and have to work together if its going to sound good.

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