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post #337
bio: katie
bio: victoria

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2/28/2006
16:47

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in high school orchestra
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

› by victoria

the bass players are widely considered to be the most lazy, indolent members of the orchestra. in my high school orchestra, they were usually to be found trying to sleep on the 3 or 4 ugly sofas in the back of the room until the teacher yelled at them to get up and play their damn instruments.

the better a cellist plays, the more ridiculously conceited they are. in fact, the lead cellist (for 2 years) was referred to as "the definition of pompous" by the teacher. The lead cellist who followed in his footsteps was not only pompous, but so eccentric as to be classified as 'mentally troubled.' Another member of the cello section (*this was when we had to do the "introduce yourself, Freshmen" activity) freaked out and yelled "My name is -------, and I hate myself, and I hate you all too, and I can't talk right" or something of that nature. It was so bizarre that everyone was shellshocked for a second. Other members of the cello section resembled Derek Zoolander in their belief that not only were they reeeally, reallly goodlooking but they also played incredibly well.

as a violist, i was a member of what was generally looked upon as the worst section of the orchestra. We always got the shittiest parts to play--I'm talking open D-string notes while everyone else is playing arpeggios. When everyone else got to play their demo songs to impress the little elementary schoolers at our "elementary school orchestra recruitment tours," the basses got to play "boogie woogie blues," the cellists "Star Wars," the violins "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and the violas got... "Bile 'em Cabbage." WTF? is definitely the right reaction to the song. It was certainly in the general area of the grade schoolers' reactions. Yay. Bile 'em Cabbage. Anyways, I got assigned a craptastic instrument--thinking back, if I had rented a good instrument, I could have probably been 1st or 2nd chair since I have perfect pitch and so I can't abide playing the viola off-tune (*violas are naturally off-tune, which is why a good violist is a very rare thing in orchestras). I ended up teaching myself how to play. Back in middle school, we had to choose between choir, band, and orchestra. I had already been emotionally scarred from prior choir experience, i hate brass instruments, and so I was directed towards orchestra. Unfortunately there were too many violins and cellos--so I was assigned viola.

It was probably a good thing, since I can only read alto clef notation. Most of the time I'd just listen to the teacher play the song, and then play it back from memory. It's easier for me to play by ear (maybe it's a left-handed thing...?)

Finally, the violinists know that they are the VIPs of the orchestra. The competition to be first chair was fierce because they got the solo parts of songs and were generally looked-up to as leaders. Some violinists were good, some were not so nice, and mostly they ignored the violas because as a section we had to try reeeaally hard not to sound terrible.



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