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Howard Coop | Just play second fiddle

Music is a part of my heritage. I grew up surrounded with music. When I was a small boy, my father sang in a gospel quartet, and for several years, he led the singing in our little country church. We listened regularly to Renfro Valley and the Grand Ole Opry. On many evenings, my father would get a songbook and say, “Let’s go over to Bother Bill’s and sing a while,” and we did. Then, on many Sunday afternoons, I was home alone listening to my favorite music, a classical music program on radio. On alternate Sunday afternoons, I would listen with great pleasure to the Longines Symphonette and the Choraliers.

I enjoyed music very much. I wanted to sing, and I wanted to play an instrument. I was fascinated with the violin. My neighbors called it the fiddle, but I couldn’t learn to play it. Have you heard that old expression, “It’s Greek to me?” Well, music was, and is, Greek to me. I understand nothing about it.

Although I am tone deaf, somewhere along the way, I learned that there is one instrument that I can play. It isn’t easy to be learned, but it can be done … by anyone.  It’s neither a violin, nor cello, nor even a bass violin; it’s called second fiddle. Now, to play second fiddle is to accept a secondary and supporting role, maybe a role behind the curtains when someone else is on the stage in the limelight and getting the credit and the applause. But those supporting roles are important.

Years ago, I sat in an audience watching an outstanding musical performance. At a point, the star performer needed to change instruments. At the appropriate time, the curtain parted a bit, and an instrument appeared. Not even a hand was visible, but somebody played second fiddle, and the show went on.

To play second fiddle is to be willing to remain in the background, forget the applause and who gets the credit, and just do well the assigned task.