Featured Article, March 2019

Stand Partners

There is a wonderful definition of a “stand partner” in an article available online, “The special bond of being a stand partner,” which was written by Max Raimi, a violist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Here is Mr. Raimi’s definition of a stand partner:

If you play a passage particularly well, often your stand partner is the only person who knows it. And if you miscount, or play a wrong note, or play something that is dreadfully out of tune, your shameful little secret is entrusted to your stand partner. The best stand partners are supportive and not judgmental.

Mr. Raimi notes that the string players are part of a choir playing the same music with a colleague. Often “stand partners” find themselves thrown together as people and as musicians. There is also the traditional division of labor on each stand. If there are two parts in the music, the “outside” player will play the higher part, and the “inside” player is responsible for turning the pages. Although playing the higher notes can be dangerous, page turning is definitely an “acquired skill” as noted by Mr. Raimi. He describes the following problems in his article. “Turn the page too soon and your partner may miss a few notes at the end of the page. Too late, and the notes on the next page aren’t visible in time.”

Then there is the partner chemistry! Mr. Raimi notes that “when stand partners don’t get along, life can be miserable.” Where to place the stand is one issue (especially if you are near sighted and your partner has 20/20 vision). Where to place your chair so you can see the conductor and see the music. How much information should be written on the music (fingerings, instructions from the conductor, reminders about sharps and flats).

Good stand partners are very sensitive to each other’s playing. You strive to be exactly in tune with each other and to play rhythmically together. How wonderful the sound and feeling is when this happens. I think this is one of the best parts about playing together!

Mr. Raimi ends his article noting that the best gift that a stand partner has to offer is companionship. I have been very blessed to have had some wonderful stand partners. There is nothing quite like playing music together!

Eileen Street
Cellospeak Board Member

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