Some say those that can, do. And those who are not quite up to the mark, teach. This in many respects is absolutely true, and to become a lead violinist or virtuoso takes dedication that few people can match. Only the really talented and relentless that want to pursue a dream can hope to ever become a fine violinist and sit in that coveted seat at the head of an orchestra. The first violinist is the conductor’s most trusted musician, in fact so much so they are called concertmasters. These violinists not only are the best musicians in the orchestra, they are leaders as well, showing the way by their talent. So just how do you become a concertmaster, and what qualities do you need?
Even the most gifted of musicians has to practice and train, without the study and the hard work you cannot hope of ever becoming the lead violinist. Hours a day need to be put into learning how to play the violin, dedication and perseverance are two of the qualities that you need to be successful. It can take months or even years before you actually start to play real music as the rest of the time you will have to endure endless scales and segments of pieces to teach you how to bow and finger correctly.
Be Aware at All Times
After years of training perhaps you are ready to take that coveted chair at the head of the orchestra. Then a whole new learning experience comes into play, learning to be a concertmaster. Similar to the conductor, the lead violin should have their eyes and ears open to the whole orchestra. This means the violin section is not your only concern, each segment of the orchestra is your responsibility, from woodwind to brass and even percussion. And as the right hand man of the person with the baton you need to also follow his lead. Often conductors get so caught up in the actual music the first violin has to show the rest of the orchestra the way and in a sense stay one step ahead of the conductor.
Be Prepared to be Fair but Disciplined
The concertmaster has to be the person to keep order and discipline in the orchestra. With so many musicians forming a modern concert orchestra, this can be the most difficult aspect of being the first violin. Sometimes egos take the better of musicians and they start to improvise and add embellishments. After all they are just humans like the rest of us, they enjoy a joke, taking a nap, and perhaps skipping practice. The first violin should show by example, both by performing to the highest level but also by being truly professional.
Be a Leader and a Virtuoso
Not only does the concertmaster have to lead and discipline the rest of the orchestra, when called upon by the conductor, he has to put all that in the background and perform as a virtuoso. This changing of being a leader to an individual is one of the hardest things the first violin has to cope with, but every good concertmaster does it with consummate ease and that is why they are the conductor’s most trusted member of the orchestra.