Vibrato Recipe border=0 align=

Vibrato Recipe

December 2, 2016, 9:45 AM · I have a deep respect for flutists because they possess the secret to making a sound that is a complete mystery to the rest of the world. Ask them to explain it and it takes a couple of sentences, the last one invariably being “blow into it like you would to get a whistle out of a pop bottle.” Now here’s where it gets complicated. The generic answer, the one size fits all, is not sufficient. It would take too long to explain what people do to mess it up. And while mere words would be inadequate, they would still be useful.

So go many other techniques in music. The short explanations don’t always work. (On the other side of the coin, in the cases where explanations are superfluous, the more talented the student, the less they need a wordy description. The visual and the aural examples help more. Sometimes the words just get in the way.)

With many students, however, the longer explanation is what the teacher creates to fix the particular problem. In music, the devil is not in the details. That’s where the solutions lie.

Don’t Do a Do-Over

Vibrato is essentially a self-taught maneuver. If your vibrato is full of bumps and robotic gestures, how do you simplify it? How do you replace karate-like jabs with coasting back and forth, gentle and rhythmic? Keep reading...

Comments (5) weekend vote: Do you favor traditional or geared pegs?  border=0 align= weekend vote: Do you favor traditional or geared pegs?

December 2, 2016, 8:35 AM · When it comes to geared pegs, a defining moment for me was when Elizabeth Pitcairn announced at a gathering of violin makers that she had installed Wittner Fine-Tune Pegs -- in her 1720 'Red Mendelssohn' Stradivarius!

To explain: traditional wooden pegs use friction to stay in place. Gear pegs contain small mechanical gears inside, making them very easy to turn and less likely to slip.

Having grown up with mismatched, constantly-slipping pegs in my violin that required constant struggle, I came to view myself as kind of a peg warrior. That is right, after all that difficulty, the traditional pegs on my violin, or on just about anyone's, are a breeze for me.

But why all the suffering? As Elizabeth said, "It takes the strength of a butterfly to turn these pegs!" I gave my blessing to several of my students to get the geared pegs, and they certainly have no trouble tuning their instruments.

So here is the question: Do you favor traditional, wooden friction pegs for your instrument(s), or do you favor the pegs containing small mechanical gears inside, known informally as "gear pegs?" Please feel free to describe your peg experiences and recommendations in the comments below! (And by the way, thanks to Paul Deck for the Weekend Vote idea! If you have ideas, feel free to e-mail me!))

Keep reading...

Comments (16)

The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide border=0 align=

The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

December 1, 2016, 4:48 PM · Gift-giving is one of the great joys of the holiday season, and each year we compile a list of some of the year's best new offerings from violinists for you to consider in your holiday gift-giving, gift-asking — and post-holiday loading of the iPhone, computer or other device. We hope this allows you to consider a music-related gift.

We also would suggest considering supporting your local live music scene by purchasing tickets to local music events or simply making a year-end donation to a musical non-profit of your choice. I've tried to be inclusive, but I'm sure I have missed some ideas, so please feel free add your suggestions in the comments section. And yes, in this case, you are allowed to toot your own horn and recommend your own CD or book or product! You may also wish to refer to our gift-giving guides from previous years; I've listed links to those at the end of this blog.

Many of the recordings below are linked to Note that if you follow these links and make a purchase from Amazon, a portion of that will go to support (If you would like to give a donation to support, click here.) I've also listed the artists' names in italics, and sometimes those are linked to stories we have written this year about them and their work. And whenever you buy any of these selections, from any source, you'll be helping to support the musicians and other artists who created them.

Happy holidays, and may your season be filled with good music!


Testament: Complete Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by J. S. Bach
Rachel Barton Pine
Rachel Barton Pine's deep interest and experience with the music of the Baroque period informs her approach to the Sonatas and Partitas, which tends toward the period-performance norms of little vibrato and plenty of resonant open strings, capturing the musical language and dance gestures of these works. She plays with a Baroque bow on her modernized violin, the 1742 "ex-Bazzini, ex-Soldat" Guarneri del Gesù. Keep reading...

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