Remembering Violinist and Teacher Shirley Givens border=0 align=

Remembering Violinist and Teacher Shirley Givens

January 18, 2018, 1:32 PM · There are a few people responsible for giving my life the shape and path it has taken, but none so significant as Shirley Givens.

Shirley was my violin teacher at the Peabody Conservatory, and she passed away a week ago at the age of 86. She also taught at The Juilliard School, Mannes College and the New School; and among her many successful students were Pamela Frank, Joseph Lin, and David Kim.

I'm sure than many of her students feel the way I do about her. There were many wonderful life lessons that she taught us all, collectively, through the years. When you are a student at music school, surrounded by the best and the brightest, you doubt yourself and your ability to be competitive at some point during the journey. Shirley used to say, "If you want it enough and work hard enough, you will find your place." When my students come to me now and ask that question, "Am I good enough?" I give them her answer. There is a niche for you if you want it. Those are such important and powerful words coming from a mentor and teacher. Keep reading...

The Week in Reviews, Op. 213: Baiba Skride; Augustin Hadelich; Itzhak Perlman border=0 align=

The Week in Reviews, Op. 213: Baiba Skride; Augustin Hadelich; Itzhak Perlman

January 15, 2018, 9:28 PM · In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world.

Baiba Skride performed the Tchaikovsky with the New York Philharmonic.

  • The New York Times: "Her distinctive sound — full-bodied and sumptuous but never forced — ideally suited the passages of melting lyricism and nobility. She brought tender grace to the rueful slow movement. And, with the alert Ms. Malkki there to keep the orchestra right with her, Ms. Skride tore through the breathless finale with impetuous energy and impressive precision."
  • Zeal NYC: "Mälkki and soloist had an easy, collaborative rapport, and Skride paced her performance carefully, with ample reserves in store to sail into the energetic finale...."Skride dazzled in the dizzying cadenza’s teetering tightrope walk of harmonics and glissandos."
Keep reading...

Ear's the Thing - Lessons from Robert Mann's Inspired Playing border=0 align=

Ear's the Thing - Lessons from Robert Mann's Inspired Playing

January 12, 2018, 10:44 AM · Some of the best violin lessons can be found for free on Amazon Prime. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Speak the Music, the documentary about Robert Mann, being offered along side the usual comedy and action films. He was the founding violinist of the Juilliard Quartet, a position he held for over 50 years. Mann died on New Year's Day, at the age of 97.

Watching Mann play when he was older, I think in his mid-70’s, I noticed an unconventional bow hold in which his knuckles were raised quite high and the fingers would squeeze together. His hand looked cramped, and very different from the Franco-Belgian bow hold he usually assumed. His naturally spaced fingers, normally relaxed and flexible, became transformed into what looked like a claw, and yet were still perfectly functional.

Even though his early videos, when he was in his 40’s, showed a more perfect-looking bow hold, I thought that how he looked was less relevant than how he balanced his thoughts and observations. His musical foundation guided his playing from on high. Keep reading...

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