Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Guide to Running your Own Chamber Music Rehersal

When I play in a chamber music group, you can be put with many different personality types. I have been with players who are very shy and quite and won’t give their opinion or ideas, then there are those who take complete control and make the decisions for the group. In both of these situations you should take some control of your group, making sure rehersals are going the way you want also. Here are some pf my tips.

When the others in your group are shy and won’t make decisision about what to rehearse, you must be th one who keeps the rehearsal going. I know that you don’t want to seem like the tyrant type of leader, but continue to check in with them and ask if they have any new ideas or sopts they would like to work out. If you don’t take the leadership role in this situation, your rehersals will be spent doing nothing. As long as you continue to make sure your group mates are content with your choices as leader, this approach works very well.

If a member of your group is trying to take the lead, that can be ok. Sometimes you should let someone else step into the leadership role if they want. The problem comes in when they begin to ignore your ideas, or make derogatory remarks. In this situation, it is imperative that you tell the leader that you value his/her ideas but that you have some suggestions to that you think would improve the group. If the musician is taking over as leader, they obviously want a good performance also, so you can use that knowledge to bond together and try to become a more unified group.

If you haven’t worked witht the groupd for very long, these are just tendencies that come up that can be worked out over time. I hope these tips helped you to deal with difficult personaliy types in your own chamebr music rehearsals.

How to Stay Motivated to Practice

Everyone has a different time when they like to practice, and different ways they like to break up their practice. It is easy to come up with a good practice routine and do it for a few days, but sticking with the routine long enough to make it a habbit is the tricky part. I have figured out what has been working for me, so here are my favorite tips.

  1. Find your most concentrated time of day and do most of your practice then. I like to practice in the morning before school. I usually can fit in 2 or 3 hours before I even start school which makes the rest of my day more stress free.
  2. Block out chunks of time to practice certain things, so my first hour of practice is basics, like shifting, vibrato, and finger dropping. My second hour is scales, thirds, and octaves. My third hour is etudes and orchestra music, and my final two or three hours of the day are concerto and other solo repertoire.
  3. Keep a practice journal of what you need to work on, how you intend to fix it, and what ended up working. This will ensure that you stay interested and engaged in your practice instead of mindlessly practicing.
  4. If you are not focusing, just take a break. You never want to practice something the wrong way because as my teacher used to say, practice makes permanent. This is very true and is a good thing when you do good practice.
  5. Think like a scientist. Use your practice room as an experimentation lab and try new practice techniques, fingerings, and ways to play difficult passages. This can make even the most tedious practice better.

I hope that some of these tips helped to make you want to practice everyday. Sometimes, you still make not want to play but know that picking up your instrument in the early morning is the hardest part of the practice session.

Second Violins Role in Chamber Music and Orchestral Music!

Each instrument in a group has a certain role, each equally important. Most people make the mistake of thinking that because first violin’s usually have the melody, they are always the most important. The first violins melody should be heard above the other parts, but audiences should understand that the melody wouldn’t sound the same if the other voices or counter-melodies weren’t  there.

The second violin has many different roles in both chamber music and orchesral music, one of which is playing the melody. The first violin doesn’t always get the melody. This type of writing is less common in classical era music where the first violin dominates, but in more contemporary music, the second violin takes the melody quite often.

Sometimes, the second violin imitates what the first violin or any other instrument has just played. Sometimes the imitation is just the same rhythym with different notes, and sometimes the second violins imitate the exact same line.

When the second violin has any kind of steady continuing rhythym, their job is to keep the melody in line rhythmically. This is boring to play, but so important to the whole group.

Often times the second violin will be in octaves with the first violin and then the second violin should play much louder. This helps to support the first violin as he/she climbs higher on the violin.

It is important to remember that the second violin part is important to the piece and you can have fun playing it! Think of playing second violin like a service to the group. You may rather play first violin, but the group needs a second violin! Remember to play loud and confidantly and have fun listening the group.