Mind Your Habits border=0 align=

Mind Your Habits

February 23, 2017, 3:52 PM · Are you creating good habits?

A few years ago I picked up a book in the airport called The Power of Habit, which made a convincing argument that our habits control nearly everything we do, every day. We have so many habits, and yet we notice very few of them.

I thought about this when a teaching colleague, Cheryl Scheidemantle, was describing a lesson she'd been teaching her third-grade beginning violin class. I realized that her lesson could apply just to the most advanced player, as well as the beginner: Mind your habits!

"Do any of you have any habits?" she asked the kids in her class. They did, and they told her a few healthy ones: brushing their teeth, eating breakfast slowly, arriving to school on time. They confessed to a few bad ones, too: staying up too late, watching too many videos, forgetting to clean their rooms.

She explained that we also have violin-playing habits. For example, some good violin-playing habits might include standing upright as we hold the violin, holding the bow correctly, playing notes in the right order, producing a beautiful tone. There are also bad habits: droopy posture, collapsed violin wrist, stiff bow hand, out-of-tune notes, squeaky sounds. Keep reading...

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 169: Hilary Hahn, Christian Tetzlaff, Alina Ibragimova border=0 align=

The Week in Reviews, Op. 169: Hilary Hahn, Christian Tetzlaff, Alina Ibragimova

February 20, 2017, 10:21 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Hilary Hahn performed the Mendelssohn with the National Symphony Orchestra.

  • Washington Classical Review: "The high point was the feather-light finale, reminiscent of the composer’s love of delicate scherzos sprinkled with fairy dust, and therefore fitting in best with the rest of the program. Set at a tempo that was quick but never frenetic, here was playing worthy of the ovation it received. Hahn acknowledged the audience response with an encore, the Gigue from Bach’s Violin Partita in E Major."
  • Washington Post: "I’ve come to think of Hahn as one of the funnest violinists around. Her projection of cool mastery may distract some listeners from her knack with the lighter side of the standard repertory, which she makes searing and memorable without losing an inner sense of delight. Her secret: She does not confuse seriousness with earnestness. She invests in each luminous note that falls from her fingers, but she never tries to oversell what she is playing and is happy to let it laugh — for instance, artlessly throwing off the little figures in the last movement, giving the piece her own distinctive, even conversational stamp."

Christian Tetzlaff performed works by Beethoven, Bartok, Mozart and Schubert, in recital with pianist Lars Vogt.

  • The Boston Musical Intelligencer: "His playing is free, underived, axiomatic, and honest. His approach is at once materially cerebral and anti-computerized—a marriage between function and sound. For him, beauty is not linked to perfection, and neither is it a fragile vase."
Keep reading...

William Hagen performs The Lark Ascending, on a 1735 del Gesù violin border=0 align=

William Hagen performs The Lark Ascending, on a 1735 del Gesù violin

February 20, 2017, 5:33 PM · Enjoy this performance by William Hagen, of "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, while you read about it:

On Saturday I attended a concert by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra -- attracted by the prospect of hearing violinist William Hagen play the 1735 "Sennhauser" Guarneri del Gesù. Hagen received the violin on loan last December from the Stradivari Society of Chicago. Hagen, 23, who won third prize in the 2015 Queen Elisabeth Competition, has been busy soloing around the world, and recently he started studying with Christian Tetzlaff at Kronberg Academy in Germany.

The concert turned out to be quite a unique and enjoyable experience, not only as a chance to see the soloist, but also as a chance to see this relatively new and new-thinking orchestra, which was playing at an also-new venue near my house, the Rothenberg Hall at The Huntington Museum in San Marino, Calif. Kaleidoscope is a Los-Angeles based, conductor-less ensemble that is in its third season. Members of the orchestra perform standing, taking their cues from each other. The group actually invites audience members to record the performance on their smart phones, noting in the program that "we actually love it when people take photos and videos during concerts."

Thus the video above was taken from my seat, on my iPhone. My video doesn't pick up the full breadth of the orchestra's sound, but it's not hard to discern the quality of that violin, even through a cell phone. In fact, "The Lark Ascending," with its soaring birdsong melodies that often allow the violin to fly solo, turned out to be an ideal piece for showcasing a fine violin. Keep reading...

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