Some instrumentalists think any movement is wrong. Others think no movement shows lack of involvement and/or lack of musicality. I fall somewhere in the middle. Crazy movement drives me nuts. No movement makes me wonder if the musician is even alive or cares at all about what he or she is doing.

How ’bout you?

Here’s a recent review about violinist Robert McDuffie. Obviously the reviewer hates his moving around.

Unfortunately, McDuffie belongs (along with the likes of Joshua Bell and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg) to the new school of violinists better heard than seen. Friday night in Overture Hall, his clowning, his pretentious mugging and posturings, were needlessly distracting. (The orchestra’s first violin section was nearly pushed off the stage to give him a space for his prancing about.)

I couldn’t find a video of him playing the Barber, but here’s a TEDx talk he gave, and he plays for us there:

Back in December I’d run across < a href="">an article about Carrie Dennis, principal violist in the LA Phil. People were talking about her movement as well:

Carrie Dennis is easy to notice in the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Yes, she’s the principal violist and deeply respected by her peers. But what makes her stand out are her animated movements during concerts.

Say “symphony orchestra” to people on the street and they’ll think of a mass-musician unit, an aggregate of many — all playing as one, no instrumentalist standing out from the others in a given section, except in a solo passage.

Yet for two years — up on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage — you couldn’t miss Carrie Dennis, even while surrounded by 100-plus other Los Angeles Philharmonic musicians.

Why? Because in most performances, the orchestra’s principal violist pops out of the picture. She dives down on a given accent, thrusts into the heart of it with startling vigor, her head impelled to her knees, her elbow raised high as she strikes her bow across the strings. By the final cadence, her neatly arranged hair is flying loose. Whatever it takes.

I can’t find a more recent video of her. This is from back in 2007:

But really, if you want to see someone in motion (I think I’ve posted this before), here’s an oboist who certainly moves a lot:

And these guys do a bit of moving as well:

I’m just fine with it … they are too fun to listen to and watch! But I do tease students if it looks as if they are trying to take flight by flapping their arms. So yes, sometimes it’s too much for me.

1 Comment

  1. I like to move when I play, but those jerky movements would show up as lurches in my wind. Maybe that’s how they get their accents, but it seems like way too much work.

    What a wonderful rendition of the Dvorak! I love the piece and they really did it up proud.