A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: April 2022 issue
Fake it ’til you make it
In response to online editor Davina Shum’s blog on orchestral faking (bit.ly/3pptqu2), I believe that Oscar Shumsky actually taught a course on faking. Under the proper circumstances, faking is perfectly acceptable, provided the player’s conscience can deal with it, as mine can. If your sense of honesty and honour can’t deal with it, then practise your heart out on passages that will never be heard, whether in a hall or in the studio. In a section of 22 or 26 fiddles (perhaps fewer), one can fake even delicately transparent Mozart and Beethoven passages, although this would be uncalled for since all that stuff is pretty easy to play. If you are further back than the second desk you can get away with it, but anywhere nearer the conductor is an invitation to be dismissed, especially if the conductor happens to be an ex-string player. I encourage everyone to learn to fake, but only when necessary. Choose wisely. It is better to fake intelligently and stay in rhythm than to try to play every note and mess things up. This is where a thorough knowledge of harmony pays off. If you do it well, not even your stand partner will know.
El Paso, TX, US
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