June 2007

Changing Strings, Pt. 2

June 24, 2007 18:48

At the End of May, I changed my strings from Evah Pirrizi's to Larsen's. They've now had a month on my violin. I did say that I would write about them more often, but I didn't get around to it.
At first I was really impressed with them. They sounded great, really resonant, really fitted well with my violin. Then about a week into having them on, the A string started playing up. I had trouble tuning it, and it had trouble staying in tune. It would be going flat within seconds of having tuned it - I was afraid that it had gone false on me already. I kept it on, hoping that a few more days of playing on it would eventually settle it in. This was the case.
After about two weeks, these strings had fully settled, and are producing a really nice tone on my violin.

Has anyone else had a similar problem with the Larsen A string? Or was this just a singular occurrence?

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When it rains....

June 13, 2007 16:23

I have been very blessed over the past couple of days.

A few days ago, I had a look at my finances, trying to see how much I really needed to be earning. Figured that I needed about 9 private half-hour students, with a couple of extra gigs a month.

The very next day, I received a call from a teaching school near by asking if I'd be interested in teaching at their school when their teacher leaves. I said yes, of course. Turns out that I can have two days of teaching there, and possibly a third in a new store they're opening elsewhere. Fantastic!

But then I realised that I couldn't do one of the two days because my uni timetable clashed. No worries, we can rearrange the students if necessary. Not an ideal solution, because some students might not be able to come on a different day.

I e-mailed one of my lecturers, because thankfully one of the two clashing classes is a split class, and I can take that on a different day. The other is an ensemble, which I won't have to do if I take up a different ensemble. He e-mailed back saying that while he couldn't give me a definite answer for two weeks, he thought that those changes could be made. So instead of singing in the chorale, it looks like I'll be put into the opera orchestra (which I wanted to do anyway) and will be able to take over the previous teachers days.

It's amazing how some things seem that they were meant to happen.

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June 6, 2007 16:27

From the Efes Pilsen Beer Can Art Contest

2 replies | Archive link


June 1, 2007 17:27

Reading my blogs today, I came across The Collaborative Piano Blog, who's post from the 31st of May talks about 15 ways to add 10 minutes practice into your day. This comes off the back of a LifeDev post on the Power of 10 minutes.
Chris Foley, from The Collaborative Piano Blog, comes up with some interesting ways to spend 10 minutes. While focussed towards the piano, there is always material that translates well to other instruments. Here's my list of 15, adapted for the violin.

  1. Warm up with Technical excercises. Kreutzer, Rode, Wohlfart etc

  2. Warm up by jumping to the part that is making your life difficult

  3. Warm up by playing a piece with the most beautiful sound that you can make. (Though choose a piece where it's appropriate)

  4. Sight read!

  5. Review memorisation for a piece or passage

  6. Review by ultra-slow practicing of a passage

  7. Play a difficult passage with as many different interpretations as you can think of

  8. Play a passage focussing on your left hand only - fingers landing in the right spot, intonation, vibrato, shifting etc

  9. Play a passage focussing on your right hand only - is the bow straight? is it in the right position on the string, are you in the right part of the bow, should you be playing on or off the string, would it be better as Up-Down-Up-Down or Up-Up-Up-Down?

  10. Sing your part

  11. Visualise a passage, then play. Repeat

  12. Visualise a passage without doing any playing

  13. Play a piece in a completely different style to the piece that you're working on

  14. Play through some repertoire related to what you're playing. Eg if you're playing a Mozart Concerto, take a look at the other Mozart Concertos, and perhaps the Haydn Concertos

  15. Take a cool down. Easy technical work, sight-reading, or a piece you enjoy playing.

Rather similar to the original list, I agree. But many of the things we do in music are the same across the board. One of my lecturers tells the story about how the teacher he learnt the most from wasn't actually a classical cellist, but a jazz trumpeter. There are common threads across all instruments, it's just the technical details that are different.

This same lecturer was talking to me yesterday about the use of channels. Basically, the idea was that our brains have difficulty focussing on more than one thing at once. And we also have difficulty focussing on one thing when we have distractions. His suggestion was to try and practice focussing on only one aspect, and then switch to a different channel. For example, for scales, his channels might be:


  1. Straight Bow

  2. Fingers land in the right spot

  3. Strong tone

  4. Fingers adjust when not in the right spot

And that would be it. He would then go through a scale, and the first run through he would only be focussed on a straight bow. If his intonation was shonky, that wouldn't matter, so long as his bow was straight. Then he would focus on getting his fingers to land in the right spot, and not adjusting if it was out. Then play with a strong tone, Then adjust his fingers if they were out.
The idea behind this is to focus your work on one area, rather than spreading your focus across the many different areas. 5 minutes spent focussing on one area with 100% of your attention is much more likely to be helpful than half an hour with your attention spread between 5 different areas.

Reposted from Top Left Hand Page

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