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Violin Blogs

Violinist.com members may keep personal journals on the website. Violinist.com's editor selects the best entries for the column below. Links to all other recent blog posts may be found in the column on the right.

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V.com weekend vote: Which is your favorite, of these 'scary' pieces?

By The Weekend Vote
October 31, 2014 12:06

This weekend is Halloween, All Saints' Day, and in my neighborhood in Southern California, "Dia de los Muertos."


Of course this has me thinking about the pieces in our classical repertoire, and which ones are the scariest and spookiest. I've compiled a few for your to consider for this week's vote. Also, please share your favorite scary or spooky music and let us know why you like it and any related stories!

Here's a piece especially for us fiddle players, with scordatura violin (the E tuned down to an Eb for that evil tritone effect). It's the violinist's music that coaxes skeletons from their graves at midnight on Halloween. Spoooky!

Danse Macabre (Saint-Saëns) - Angèle Dubeau (2013)

The great violinist Paganini was said to have to have traded his soul to the devil for his terrific violin chops. Here is his "Witches' Dance," played by the late Eugene Fodor. To me it doesn't sound scary, just wicked good.

Le Streghe ('Witches' Dance') (Paganini) - Eugene Fodor

When I was a child, we frequently viewed this clip from Disney's "Fantasia" when we had snow days, etc. It gave me nightmares! I always did enjoy playing the piece, which isn't a bad one for youth orchestras.

Night On Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky) - Fantasia (1941)

The last movement of Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" incorporates the "Dies Irae," the 13th c. Latin hymn about Judgment Day that is also used in the requiem mass, which adds a dimension of deep-seated spook.

Symphonie Fantastique, IV-V (Berlioz)

A few Halloweens ago, a neighbor's spectacular yard display included this video, projected onto an entire wall of their house! This wouldn't win for music composition alone (it's all pretty derivative), but what puts it into the running for me is its apt use of animation to magnify the feeling of the music:

Silly Symphony Skeleton Dance (Disney 1929)

So which spooky piece do you like best, of these? And if your favorite is not included (and I had to leave out so many, I'm sure this is very possible!) please share what your favorite spooky, Halloween-ish tune is!

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Game-Changer: Why I'm Supplementing the Suzuki Books With New Music - by Women!

By Claire Allen
October 29, 2014 20:40

My teaching life changed tonight, and it's because of something my 7-year-old student, Hannah, said to me. "Why are all the composers I learn about men?"

In my studio, right now, my students are divided into four teams, and those teams are participating in a variety of activities to earn points. I am keeping score for them and the winners will be announced right before our winter recitals - which, conveniently, they will be even more prepared for. They get points for practicing. They get points for completing a certain number of scale bowings, or reaching milestones in their etude books. They get points for attending concerts, and for reading books on music.

Hannah has proven to be a fierce competitor. Her mom ordered several of Mike Venezia's Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers series and she has gone through one of them every single week, bringing in hand-written notes.

Today, she brought me some wonderfully written notes on George Frideric Handel. At the top of the page, she had written: "Question from Hannah: Why are all the composers I learn about men?"

It stopped me in my tracks. I consider myself a thoroughly modern woman. I vote. I own property. I have my own bank account. I have my own business. I drive. I even drive if my boyfriend is in the car.

And yet, my repertoire as a performing violinist and as a teacher, is almost completely written by deceased white males. In keeping with my classical training and tradition, I'm passing this repertoire down to my students.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the music by the famous classical composers. I'm currently learning works by Wienawski, Brahms, and Beethoven. I earned both my college degrees playing their music. I love it. It's so much a part of me that it took my seven year old student to get me to really look at my repertoire.

When I explained to Hannah that a long time ago, women's rights were limited, she looked at me blankly. She was born in the 21st century. Such a world seems foreign to her, and I am glad of it.

In her lesson, I gave her a list of female composers and told her that if she researched them and took enough notes, I would count that as reading a book for our studio challenge. It seemed only fair, and I wasn't sure that I would be able to find children's biographies of female composers.

I came home from teaching and immediately went to Amazon, where I found a few children's books on Hildegard von Bingen, Nannerl Mozart, Clara Schumann, and Fanny Mendelssohn. I instantly sent them to Hannah's mother, and I will look forward to hearing her thoughts on them in the near future!

Then, I wondered if I could find music by female composers at a comparable level to Suzuki Book 1. I googled "violin music by women" and found a treasure: http://www.violinmusicbywomen.com. It's a graded anthology - with four volumes, from beginner to advanced level, all written by women. Some are historic and some are written by living composers.

I ordered all four volumes and am going to work on incorporating them into my teaching. Besides Hannah, who is one of my most outspoken students, I have several other modern young women in my studio who will want to play music written by women closer to them in history. For that matter, there are modern young men in my studio as well, who will learn that women compose music that it is worth their while to play. There will always be a place for the classics, and those wonderful men whose music has endured through the centuries. But from now on, in my studio, music by women will be studied and performed, too.

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The Week in Reviews, Op. 54: Chee-Yun, Anne Akiko Meyers, Pinchas Zukerman in Concert

By Robert Niles
October 28, 2014 12:51

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.

Photo courtesy the artist

Chee-Yun performed the Tchaikovsky with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

  • Arizona Daily Star: "Chee-Yun....was nothing short of breathtaking in her solo turn at Tchaikovsky's technically challenging Violin Concerto in D major. Her pristine 1669 Francesco Ruggieri violin, reportedly buried with its owner and re-emerging in 1991 with no scratches or wear and tear to hint at its antiquity, produced the lushest, most gorgeous sound. There were no wolfs, as she called them, little hiccups and distortions that can muddy the works especially on a piece that demands so much of the musician."

Anne Akiko Meyers performed Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" with the Des Moines Symphony.

  • Des Moines Register: "...the familiar melodies sounded bright and nimble, and Meyers' tone was as clean as Windexed glass."

Joshua Bell performed works by Schubert, Grieg and Prokofiev in recital with pianist Alessio Bax.

  • Violinist.com: "He may have the timeless look of a young man, he may entertain us at times, but he also has the conspicuous maturity of a concert artist that has been at his craft for 40+ years."

Pinchas Zukerman performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

  • Herald Scotland: "Centrepiece of the programme, of course, was the legendary violinist's performance of Bruch's First Violin Concerto, as rich and warm as you would expect from one of the great violinists of the era, though there were a few moments, notably in the finale, where balance between Zukerman and his splendid orchestra was slightly askew, often an issue where the soloist is the director."
  • Edinburgh Guide: "The highlight of the evening without doubt was the Bruch Violin Concerto No 1 where Pinchas Zuckerman not only played the solo part but conducted too. The audience loved it."

Yuriy Bekker performed the Beethoven with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

  • The Post and Courier: "Nuance and sensitivity informed this performance, too. Bekker's showed off Beethoven's nicer, gentler side, providing a sweet yet full tone and a fluid, unrushed interpretation. The orchestra might have provided a little more dynamic contrast, but what it did offer was a full-bodied sound during the famously long exposition and a most gracious accompaniment to Bekker's lovely playing."

Agata Szymczewska performed Bruch's Violin Concerto No.1 with The Swan Orchestra.

  • Exeter Express and Echo: "Agata doesn't just play well, either, she plays dramatically, proving with fancy bow flourishes and emphatic swaying that showmanship isn't purely the domain of more modern music either. She is rightly applauded back to the stage three times, finishing with a charming solo violin piece as an encore."

Jeffrey Multer performed the Barber with the Florida Orchestra.

  • Tampa Bay Times: "Multer's work on Barber's Violin Concerto was transcendent, perhaps because of its significance to him. He learned it during a difficult time in his own life, he said during the pre-concert conversation. He called the piece a 'breakthrough.'"

Please support live music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can!

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Review: Joshua Bell in recital with pianist Alessio Bax at Disney Hall

By Laurie Niles
October 27, 2014 22:54

When one thinks of a "recital hall," generally a 2,200-seat venue does not come to mind.

Yet within the first quiet moments of Schubert's Violin Sonata in A major, D. 574, Joshua Bell and pianist Alessio Bax somehow cast such a strong feeling of intimacy over their recital, it seemed to take place in a living room rather than the capacious Disney Hall on Sunday evening.

Of course, architect Frank Gehry meant Disney Hall to be a "living room for the city of Los Angeles" -- but Joshua Bell knew how to play it that way. The choice of repertoire -- the Schubert, Grieg's Violin Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 8 and Prokofiev's Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 -- showcased music with fine detail, moments of stillness mixed with the movement, and a nice range of effects for piano and violin. The hall did its job, but so did the performers, arresting the attention of their large audience with their finely focused music-making.

The Schubert flowed like water, with both performers sensitive to one another and well-balanced in their interplay. Did Schubert, writing these pieces as a fairly young man, ever think that anyone would play this music with so much care? They captured the energy of the second movement, the changing moods of the third movement, everything so finely put together.

I couldn't decide if I'd ever heard the Grieg Sonata -- if so, it's certainly not a piece I've heard frequently. The melodious first movement was in turns sunny and stormy, and full of decisive "endings" that don't really end the movement. The actual ending just trails into the sky. The second movement has some folksy passages, skittering spiccato, and the little pizzicato that ended that movement made audience members chuckle audibly. The third movement leaps high, dives low, and Joshua and Alessio were decisive in every gesture, sure-footed traversing this changeable landscape.

After intermission came the Prokofiev, a serious and challenging piece, and here is where I noticed that I was listening to Joshua Bell for the wisdom in his playing. He may have the timeless look of a young man, he may entertain us at times, but he also has the conspicuous maturity of a concert artist that has been at his craft for 40+ years.

The first movement of the Prokofiev feels like a journey over a dark landscape: quiet plodding, with the piano in its lower end. Joshua's vibrato could range from nothing to molto, sometimes in the course of just a note, and his double-stops had reassuring stability. Toward the end of the movement was a shivery effect, fingers running lightning-fast up and down the fingerboard, muted, and illuminated only by long quiet bows. Prokofiev told Oistrakh that he meant this to sound like "the wind in a graveyard," according to the program notes, and indeed it did. "Ooooh," came a spontaneous murmur from an audience member behind me.

By contrast, the second movement was loud, busy and intense. The muted third movement seemed almost French; it had every kind of watery, sparkly, shimmery, wash-of-color effect I could think of in both piano and violin, and Josh's melodious high playing was simply gorgeous. The fourth movement was frenetic, full of energy, then changing, back to shivering in the graveyard in the end. What a journey.

Joshua announced several encores from the stage: Rachmaninov's "Vocalise," which sang easily and was spellbinding in his hands. Then came Sarasate's virtuoso piece, "Introduction and Tarantella," which showed his astonishing precision and well-calculated dynamics.

What a treat.

* * *

After the recital, both Joshua Bell and Alessio Bax came to the lobby to sign CDs for audience members, who formed a nice long line to greet them. Here I am with Joshua after the recital:

Laurie and Joshua

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Wonderful Fiddling/Improv Methods to use with students

By Laura Dalbey
October 27, 2014 20:24

After reading a recent discussion about a currently debated fiddle/improv method, I thought I'd add a couple of options to the list, since there really are many different excellent methods to use with students these days :) :). My students have been loving Martin Norgaard's "Jazz Fiddle Wizard" series. I think it is probably most appropriate for middle school aged students at the Suzuki book 4/5 level. The books really take them through some ways of thinking about improvising and then give them ample opportunities to use their new skills. A couple of my Suzuki-raised students are incredible improvisers - especially good at hearing the chord changes and creating rhythmic variety in their improvs.
Another series I have fallen in love with is "The American Fiddle Method" by Brian Wicklund. Full of classic standards, these books follow a very Suzuki Friendly sequence, include the background and words that come with each tune, chord changes, a CD with a professional level bluegrass band playing the tunes, and plenty of ways to teach students the extras (like chopping, etc). My students LOVE these books. And so do I :)

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Ban iPads, Not Kids, From the Concert Hall

By Karen Rile
October 25, 2014 19:25


Should you take your children to classical concerts? Maybe not: you might risk expulsion and public humiliation.

Just last week at the New World Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas halted the orchestra in the middle of a performance because a little girl in the front row was distracting him.

The story went viral when a popular classical music blog reported Tilson Thomas had booted a child and her mother from the concert, although later he claimed he merely asked them to relocate to the side of the hall.

Eyewitnesses say that the girl had been lying quietly on her mother's lap watching a movie on an iPad during the performance—miserable concert etiquette, since bright screens are painfully distracting in a darkened hall. But was that more of a disruption than the conductor's action?

Some online commenters accused Tilson Thomas of prima donna behavior, pointing out that he's prone to meltdowns. (Last year he lobbed a fistful of cough drops at a noisy Chicago audience.) Others blamed the hall management: ushers should have known not to seat a 7-year-old directly in the conductor's sightline. There was plenty of vitriol for the mother, too. "That's why there are children's concerts," said one.

When my kids were little, our family had 4 season opera tickets for a family of 6. Our daughters bargained with one another over who would get to see which opera. Once, as we were taking our seats, the woman in the row in front of us turned around and hissed, "I hope those children behave." Funny, because I'd be willing to bet that at ages 9 and 11 they knew The Elixir of Love better than she did.

My own kids were well-behaved, maybe because they learned concert decorum from one another. In fact, I went out of my way to purchase seats where they could see well. We were often front row center (I remember Joshua Bell winking from the stage at my daughter, an avid violin student, when she was 11.)

It's not that we didn't have some heart-stopping incidents. My youngest kid got a sudden nosebleed during a performance where there was no escape because we were seated in the middle of a long row. And me with no spare tissues. (With regret, I handed her my silk scarf.) At the 2002 premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra our family bought tickets for a box above the orchestra so the kids could watch the action close up. When our 8-year-old leaned over the rail for a better look at the percussion section, her program slipped precariously from her fingers. She clapped her hand over her mouth in horror as we watched it flutter down between the timpani.

I am happy to report that no musicians or drums were harmed; a friend of ours watching from the center of the hall told me that the orchestra members seemed to not notice. Later, when I was interviewing the composer for an article, I mentioned the dropped program and she laughed. "I remember your daughter!" she said happily.

The thing is: musicians know we need kids to love music if there's to be a future for the classics.

Last night at her birthday dinner I asked my oldest daughter what she felt about being a very young concertgoer. Here's what she said:

As I got older, I could see that bringing us to concerts and plays was your investment. You trained us to be audience members by doing it over and over again and teaching us how to behave.

I remember going to see Carmina Burana when I was 11; I closed my eyes to enjoy the music and you later gave me feedback later that I looked like I was sleepy, which could be distracting for the performers, since we were seated towards the front.

By going to concerts and plays repeatedly, we learned how to be respectful, and how actions that might seem natural to us—like wearing t-shirts and jeans, or yawning, or reading our programs during the performance—are not respectful.

We also learned that live performance is part of our cultural identity. And aside from teaching us to love music, there was another critical lesson that will serve me throughout life: how to sit respectfully through something that you're not engaging with. That skill is going to come up again and again in adult life.

The first time I went to a live rock concert, I had a culture shock in reverse: I was offended when they searched my bag on the way in, and I was shocked that there was nowhere to sit or put my bag down. When people sang along with the band I was horrified at first. I didn't understand the culture.

If Western classical music is to continue, everyone who is part of this cultural practice needs to respect the training that goes into creating the next generation's audience. That requires a certain amount of toleration on the part of audience and performers, but also thoughtful cooperation from parents.

It can seem like a lot less fun and a lot of work to bring your kids to performances rather than just leaving them home with a sitter. Any adult who brings their kids and expects the concert, or an iPad, to be the babysitter is missing the point—and not making a good investment.

When I was little, we didn't have digital devices, so iPads and smartphones weren't an issue. It was too dark to read a book in the concert hall, so we were all forced to engage, or at least to pretend we were engaged with the performance.

An iPad doesn't teach kids to engage; it teaches them that it's okay to show up and be rude. These etiquette rules, concerning emerging technology, are so new they're being written as we live it.

Think it through, parents: bring your kid but leave the iPad at home. As for the rest of us: we're all in this together, creating the next generation of listeners.

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For beginners especially - how to maintain a love for the violin once the secret is out that it's hard...

By Michael Fox
October 24, 2014 17:01

I remember getting my first violin, and feeling enchanted from my 6 year-old eyes, the cloth covered, curved box made of wood stained with a dark orange hue. It seemed almost scary in its unapproachable fanciness, as if it possessed magical properties. So I just kind of looked at it with a sense of awe, until I heard some musicians play it, first in a bluegrass band, and then in a symphony, with the promise that lessons and practice would lead me being able to do that. So I tried to pick it up – and practiced my first assignment – an open A string to a steady rhythm that I was taught as “Mississippi Hotdog.” (which I guess would be one with grits in it)

My teacher could play an amazing “Mississippi Hotdog,” with each note ringing out clearly, and keeping the beat perfectly wherever she felt like setting the metronome. About half the time, my “Mississippi Hotdog” sounded like the annoying static-y noise I would hear when I went to the wrong TV channel. It took a few months of doing nothing but @%$*#& “Mississippi Hotdog” on a open string before we even talked about putting the other hand on the string to play actually notes. When we did, I usually ended up with something that sounded a little like a very sad cat. This in turn led to another few months of hard work before I was able to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

Violin playing is hard. Specifically, the worst part of learning is often at the front end. Some instruments, like the piano can be learned cumulatively – meaning it’s easy to do at first, and then can get more complicated as your knowledge builds. Violin playing is much more like riding a bike – it’s basically impossible at first, but you have to train your muscles to cooperate, and certain bodily movements have to become basically automatic. That’s why you often have to spend so much time simply learning how to hold the bow, or get a pitch in tune. It can be easy to get discouraged at this point (and I have seen a few students get discouraged and lose interest when progress wasn’t going fast enough) – but here are a few things I find are really helpful in helping to maintain a sense of motivation past the hurdle:

1) Never let the love of music die

When I first started lessons, my mom made the observation that the kids who carried their own violins seemed more likely to stick with it then those who had their instrument carried by parents. I’ve sense discovered what an ingenious discovery this was, that students who really “own” their instruments are the ones who keep going even when it’s too hard to get right away. I think one of the main things a teacher (of any subject really, but music especially) should strive for internal motivation – or that a student needs to really desire to learn music for its own sake, because he or she really wants to. The great painter Pablo Picasso once said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.” So, I consider one of my main jobs as a teacher to maintain a sense of fun playfulness and love of music even when it gets hard. The discipline needed to reach proficiency will come if you really love it. But you can help me out in this goal! Keep listening to music, especially stuff with violins in it. Listen to your body, and know when you’re pushing it too much, and feel free to take a break. Play music-related games so you can “practice” without it feeling like drudgery.

2) Remember you are learning “music,” not just “violin”

Dragging a bow across a string is not just a technique. It is a way to play rhythm. It is not enough merely to know where the fingers of the left hand “should go” on the finger board, you need to listen carefully and know what it means to be in tune. Thus, playing the violin is not an act in itself, and sometimes it may be helpful to take a break from building technique, to instead build up “musical intelligence” more broadly. This can be accomplished by singing, clapping, playing a shaker or other percussion instruments, and dancing, as ways to work on matching a rhythm and pitch to what you hear.

3) Focus on only one thing at a time

One of the main reasons violin playing is such a challenge is that is requires you to do so many different things at the same time. Even “Mississippi Hotdog,” my favorite song of all time, requires an overwhelming level of coordination that can go wrong if any individual muscle is pressing down too much or not moving enough. It’s too much to think about at one time, which is how many people end up practicing things incorrectly and making everything even more difficult. Instead, really try to concentrate on one thing at a time. For example, try playing a song one time focusing on keeping the bow straight and in between the bridge and the edge of the finger board, and then do it again with making sure the fingers on the “note hand” aren’t jumping up after you lift them off the string. With my beginner students, I find it sometimes helps to focus on bowing on open strings, and then working on the note hand by plucking “guitar style.”

4) Daily short practice is better then inconsistent long practice

Violin playing is something that is only going to get easier with consistent practice. Trying to “cram” practice just before a lesson is about as effective as only brushing your teeth before going to the dentist. But I understand that, realistically, we’re not all students at Julliard or the Berklee College of Music. For many of my students, school, work, and friends gets in the way of working on everything every day. My encouragement to them is simply this – practice less more often. Even on days when you feel totally stressed out and overwhelmed, at least get the violin out of its case, and play scales for 5 – 10 minutes or so. Even that small bit of practice, with appropriate levels of concentration, activates the pathways of your brain, that, over a long period of time, will make playing come more automatically, so you can focus on actually making music.

A parable -

Once upon a time, there lived a little pony in a forest far away. One day, the pony found a huge tree that, according to his bird friends, had the juiciest, largest, and sweetest apples in the world. So he went to the tree, and discovered, sadly, that these amazing apples were only on the tree’s highest branches. He stretched out as far as he could go, but couldn’t get anywhere near the apples he wanted. But our pony wouldn’t give up. Every day, he would go up to the tree and stretch his neck, trying to reach as high as he could go. At first, it was really hard, and he couldn’t stretch anywhere near the apples. But, after a very long time of going to the tree and stretching his neck every day, he found it got easier and he was able to stretch higher then he had before. Finally, one day, he discovered that he could reach the apples, but that he had to work harder to reach down to the grass, because his stretching had made his neck longer. And he had become the world’s first giraffe.

And the moral of the story is – Your body, and your mind, are capable of far more than you think. If you just work at pushing yourself just a little bit every day, things that seem impossible will become second nature. Happy practicing!

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V.com weekend vote: Which is your favorite string?

By The Weekend Vote
October 24, 2014 10:18

violin stringsWhich is your favorite violin or viola string, and why?

Of course we need all our strings, and we appreciate them differently, depending on the music. But writing about Giora Schmidt and his quest for a modern instrument this week, I was struck with one of his preferences: that he wanted a violin with power on the D string, for those special D-string moments, like the beginning of the melody in the first movement of the Tchaikovsky concerto. It made me think, which string do I like best on my own violin, and why? When I pick up another violin, what do I want to hear from each string, and what would be a deal-breaker, if I didn't like it?

So I thought it would make for a nice vote this week: which is your favorite string? Here are a few thoughts on the various strings. First, that part of the Tchaik with the nice D-string moment -- here is Josh Bell playing the piece at the 2013 BBC Proms with the National Youth Orchestra of the U.S.; the part I'm speaking about is at 3:13:

Some people don't like the brightness of the E string, and yet check out 16:08 in the video above -- what other instrument than the violin can reach those height and still sound gorgeous?

One might have a little "thing" for the G-string (no silly jokes please!) because of moments like the beginning of the 2nd movement of the Franck Sonata -- behold Soyoung Yoon playing it in 2009 at the St. Elizabeth competition (wish I could tell you the pianist!):

Of course, the A string seems to be at the center of our universe, the beloved note that tunes the orchestra. Should it be 440, 442, higher? Do we think much about this string, or is it just a workhorse for us, between the juicy high and low notes?

And I've included the C string, as we are all one family here in the string section. Many love those rich deep tones better than anything else.

So please chime in on your favorite string, and let us know why you picked what you picked! (If you like more than one string, and yes we all do, remember that this is just for fun!)

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The Intermediate Player

By Danielle Gomez
October 23, 2014 23:10

The concept of being "intermediate" is something often overlooked. Everyone is guilty of this regardless of age. Though most would not admit as much, there seems to be this unspoken expectation that a student goes from "beginner" and then immediately jumps to "expert."

What happened to intermediate?

Understanding the basics of an instrument and achieving a reasonable amount of control is really only just the beginning of the learning process. Just because the student can't play everything doesn't mean that the student is a failure or even that the effort was wasted. Being intermediate at something is the only way to eventually become advanced.

The learning curve is not a straight upward line. It may resemble such in the beginning when everything is a new concept. But eventually this line plateaus. Learning happens in phases and there is a definite possibility that things could get worse at times before things get better.

Being intermediate is far more difficult than being advanced. At the advanced level most music seems achievable given enough time and effort. At the intermediate level the mental knowledge has outstripped physical ability and the result is frustration. The effort of achieving mastery seems daunting, making everything achieved so far appear trivial.

But take comfort in the fact that these feelings are normal. It is part of the learning process and there's no way to skip this step. Every advanced musician that you hear playing was both a beginner and intermediate player at some point.

Rethinking Genius

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A List of Established Modern Violin and Bow Makers from the VSA's New Instrument Exhibit

By Laurie Niles
October 23, 2014 14:46

Who exactly are some of the more established modern violin and bow makers who are raising the art of the craft to new level? We hope that the list below can serve as a helpful resource to anyone looking for a fine modern instrument.

Last month during the Violin Society of America's Convention, an entire exhibit was devoted to new violins make by well-established violin and bow makers. Many of these makers have won so many VSA awards that they were no longer eligible to enter the 2014 VSA Competition for makers (Winners of the 2014 Violin Society of America Competition are listed here.)

Called the "New Instrument Exhibit," it featured 120 instruments and bows by 85 makers. Players visited the room all week to test the violins and bows, and they often could meet the maker right there in the room; so it was possible to speak to a maker while testing his or her violin or bow. What an incredible opportunity!

VSA violins

Here is a list of the makers represented in the VSA's "New Instrument Exbibit," all with links to their contact information. I hope you find this to be helpful!

Andrew Carruthers of Santa Rosa

Bill Scott, Gregg Alf and Dennis Braun

Michael Fischer
Michael Fischer of Los Angeles

Skreko Indy
Theodore Skreko of Indianapolis Violins

Zyg and Curtin
Sam Zygmuntowicz and Joseph Curtin


Gregg T. Alf
Pablo Alfaro
Robert Ames
GianCarlo Arcieri
Dimitri Atanassov
Dorian Barnes
Gonzalo Bayolo
David Burgess
Andrew Carruthers
Chicago School of Violin Making
Carlo Chiesa
David L. Chrapkiewicz
Marco Coppiardi
Martin Cornelissen
Thomas Croen
Joseph Curtin
David Finck
Michael Fischer
Ronald L Fletcher
David Folland
Andrea Frandsen
Christopher Germain
Todd Goldenberg
David Gusset
Jonathan Hai
Mark Hollinger
Li Ming Huai
Indianapolis Violins
Feng Jiang
Chris Kiely
Felix Krafft
Francis Kuttner
Christophe Landon
Silvio Levaggi
Zhen Hua Ling
Douglas Martin
Jesse Maschmeyer
Steven M. McCann
Georg Meiwes
Ray Melanson
Thomas Meuwissen
Eduard Miller
Sally Mullikin
Orest Nakonechny
Oberlin Workshop
Phillippe Reynaud
James Robinson
Benjamin Ruth
Andrew Ryan
Julien Schneider
Kelvin Scott
Bill Scott, Jr.
Sigrun Seifert and Joseph Grubaugh
Nathan Slobodkin
Jan Spidlen
David Swanson
Joe Thrift
Stefan Valcuha
Jason Viseltear
Stephan Von Baehr
Marilyn J Wallin
Mark Hough
Ute Zahn
Samuel Zygmuntowicz


Morgan Andersen
John Aniano
Pierre-Yves Fuchs
Lee Guthrie
David Hawthorne
Kwonsu Kim
Rodney Mohr
Evan Orman
Richard Riggal
Steve Salchow
David Samuels
Elizabeth Shaak
Matthew Wehling
Li Xueyong
Roger Zabinski

* * *

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The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

The Violinist.com Interviews, Vol. 1

Hear more from the world's top violinists in The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1, which includes our exclusive conversations with Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, and David Garrett, and others, as well as a foreword by Hilary Hahn.

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