Second Chair

Jared played saxophone and Zachary the baritone in their school band. Periodically, the intensity of their practices accelerated in preparation for the assessment done by the band direction for chair assignment.  Competition for first chair was fierce.  Making second chair was also a celebrated accomplishment.  I never really understood the difference between first and second chair.  Jennifer Jones, Assistant Concertmaster for the Nova Scotia Symphony gave a simple thought provoking explanation of the two.

“All violinists in an orchestra have very high skill levels and the only difference between the two sections is the role they play in the orchestra. Members of both sections audition with mainly the same repertoire and have to maintain a very high level of musicianship. If truth be known, a lot of what is required of the second violins is difficult even at times treacherous! They often have to play rapid intricate rhythms on the lower strings, which are difficult and tiring, and harmonies sometimes create awkward passages. They also have to play syncopated and other very difficult rhythms underneath the soaring melodies of the first violins. Often the second violins have to come out of the musical texture and play the melody themselves or play in unison with the first violins.
All first violinists appreciate the value and hard work of the second violins. While the first violins concentrate on their own difficulties in creating excitement in the higher registers or the fast passages, they constantly rely on the musical support of the second violins. Usually the second violins play a supportive role harmonically and rhythmically to the first violins which often play the melody and the highest line of the string section. Although the two sections play different parts, all members share in the responsibility of blending seamlessly together as one unit."
A good man that finds a wife has found a second violin. He needs a partner willing to play a supportive role.  Serving as head of the home is an awesome responsibility and a stressful endeavor.  The family rises and falls on the husband’s decisions.  He may elicit his wife’s opinion and her preferences but the ultimate decision is his to make.  Just as the second violins’ task is intricate and difficult; a wife must submit willingly to her husband, be the strength in his weak areas and respect him as leader even when he seems off key.  Her husband considers her priceless and holds her in high esteem because he is aware of her behind the scenes work that ultimately elevates his worth and uplifts the family.  She works in harmony with her husband and not against him.  While performing two different roles, the life they create together remains in sync.  Marriage is a shared responsibility where two become one working together in unison.  First and second chair violins make beautiful music together for a limited engagement.  A good wife is a woman who does not mind being second chair in exchange for the ultimate privilege of staying in harmony with her husband for a lifetime.

Inspired by Proverbs 31 & Genesis 2: 24 and Focus on the Family Podcast




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  2. The supportive role is not less than, but simply different. And sometimes, more difficult.
    - Russell Howelton


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