By Amy Kathleen Miller

I thought of rejoining the West Valley Symphony a while back, and I finally joined three weeks ago.

Violin (Photo credit: crazybobbles)

Playing with the West Valley Symphony is very enjoyable, entertaining, and above all it is free to join.  It is a community symphony, which means anyone can join who wants that kind of an experience.  We get together each Wednesday night and play for two solid hours.

The second week after I joined, the concertmaster — who is the first violin player of the first violin section — and the first chair of the second violin section got together and decided that there were too many people in the second violin section and not enough in the first.  They decided to have a “play-off” and put the players in the chairs that they needed to be in and make the two sections more even.

I for one did not want to end up in last chair.  So I took the music home and practiced it very hard every day for a whole week.  Well, I did miss two days.  But I practiced consecutively for five days for about an hour every day.  That is a lot, considering that it was my violin.  If I were practicing voice I could sing for about two to three hours easily.

I practiced my scales and the music that I had, even the proper hand positions. Violin is a very complicated instrument because there are no frets like there are on the guitar.  We as violin players have to truly develop a good ear, because we have to put our fingers precisely in the correct position on the violin or we are either too high or too low on the note.

So, there I was, practicing for a solid week just because I didn’t want to be in last chair of the second violin section.  I wanted to be somewhere in the middle of the second section, that was my goal.

The day of the tryouts finally came.  I was okay, but nervous.  I practiced my piece well and was more than ready.  I was hoping they would not ask me to play a melodic minor scale because I haven’t practiced that for a while on the violin.  But as for a a major scale, I could hold my own.

We were told at the beginning that the violin tryouts were taking place in another room, and I watched as each violinist went into the room one at a time.  It was going in a particular order.  First, all the first violin section was filing out one at a time and when one finished and returned the next one went out.  I watched it go on until it was my turn.

Musical scale in A minor (melodic) Image file ...
Musical scale in A minor (melodic) Image file created with Sibelius software by Opus33. This music is in the public domain. The image is not copyrighted, and it is hereby released by Opus33 into the public domain. ---- The following is the official Wikipedia tag for this file: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was very nervous by then because I was worried about how I was going to pull off a melodic minor scale.  But to my surprise, they only asked me to play any major scale on the page.  I breathed a sigh of relief and played a major scale.  Then I was supposed to play nine bars of music.  That means nine measures of the music, but I didn’t count it out, I played on and on.  Finally, I stopped and asked if that was enough.  The men smiled at me and said it was more than enough but they thought I was doing such a great job they didn’t want to stop me.  That was a relief.

They shook my hand and welcomed me to the symphony and then I left.

Later, after all the players were done with the tryouts for their chairs, the two men came out and the moment we had all been waiting for arrived.  They said there were two people they wanted to move up into the first violin section, and that was a lady named Carol and another lady named Amy.  Amy?!? That was my name.  They wanted ME to move UP into the first violin section.  They had to have been mistaken.  But they weren’t, so I moved over.  The lady I had to sit next to was now below me and I thought she was a better player.  She spoke softly to me, saying that she had done lousy on her performing the tryout piece.  I replied that I must have played TOO WELL since I was moved up into first violins and I felt I was nowhere near ready for that.

After we were done practicing, I went up to the second violin section leader and told him that I was flattered to be in the first section but I was not really THAT good of a player.  He just looked at me and told me that I would do fine and not to worry about it and that the first chair player would help me if I needed it.  They were not going to put me back in my section, I guessed. After that, I figured I was going to have to actually PRACTICE my music from now on, and got music to practice.

The moral of this story:  I got what I practiced for.  I need to quit whinin’ and get to PRACTICING so I can get better.  That’s right, I need to P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!!!  Just like I tell my students, over and over.  And who knows, maybe I will actually get pretty good and learn to enjoy my violin more.

Just like I tell my students.

Editor’s Note:  “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media


10 thoughts on “AMY’S ANGLE — Quit whinin’ and play the violin!

    1. Thanks Eve, I am getting used to it now. I didn’t do as badly as I thought I would today. I can read better then I thought. But yes, now I have to PRACTICE more on this instrument and I might really enjoy the thought of getting better on my violin as well as singing. I do have a vocal, solo, part as well in the orchestra. It is not words but oooooing for the most part but I will be on the stage by myself with the audience in front and the whole orchestra behind. Wow, I am really excited about that.

  1. Way to go! I also bug my kid about drum/voice practice, and it’s good to see your example of how important that is and how it pays off. Congrats on your success! 🙂

    1. Thanks! Kids can be hard to encourage to practice. But with persistence on the part of the parent it can be done. It really paid off for me better then I expected obviously.

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