How to Play Violin in Orchestra

To play violin in orchestra, you need to keep a stable head on your shoulders! There is a lot to listen to all around you, and the fact of the matter is it is very, very easy to get lost in it all. Between violins, viola, cello, bass, percussion, woodwinds, brass, and vocals, you are going to need to really know your part very well to see how it fits into the rest of the orchestra. Here are some solid tips for playing violin in orchestra that you will want to get into your head if you plan on playing in an orchestra any time soon.

First rule of all when playing violin in orchestra: watch the conductor! He or she holds down the beat at all times. If you lose track of that beat, you lose track of the orchestra as a whole and can quickly fall behind and lose your part in the music. Don’t allow this to happen. Even when looking down at the music, keep your peripheral vision focused clearly and distinctly on the conductor’s baton so that you play with his lead and don’t allow yourself to become lost in the haze of the music.

Next of all, you want to listen for cues around you as far as entry and exit points into whatever music you are playing. The orchestra will cue you in on whatever part you are about to play, whether it’s being cued by what the bass is playing right before hand or what the second violins are playing just before you enter. When you play violin in orchestra, take care to listen and memorize various auditory cues that will lead you into whatever part you are about to play and time it carefully so that you do not lose your place in the music.

Lastly, be sure to listen to the intonation around you. Chances are, if you sound wrong compared to what you hear, then you, not the 50 or 100 musicians around you, are wrong! The odds of one person being wrong are fair, but the odds of an entire orchestra being wrong, and being wrong together for that matter, are significantly more slim! So listen to your intonation against the intonation of the orchestra as a whole to determine where you are in terms of accuracy and play each note very, very well in tune.

To get the most out of playing violin in orchestra, you most definitely need to get a teacher. I recommend this to anyone who I talk to or anyone who visits my website. Not having a teacher means you are behind anyone else who does have a teacher to learn how to play violin from. So get one as soon as possible and learn as much as you can from your violin teacher!

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