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.
May 7, 2012 08:31
There is Now a video live-stream (klick) of the second round of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.
By Emily Grossman
May 7, 2012 01:48
For the most part of winter, silence accompanies my evening walks. Black. White. Cold. Nothing. I plummeted with the temperatures into a soul-less darkness. With no goals or venues, I floundered, desperately seeking some sort of purpose to my playing. Finally, on Easter morning, I chose to swear off the violin for good. This torturous, unfulfilled pursuit would be best if I cauterized it and found something less painful to occupy my time--something that wouldn't remind me of a world that lay just out of reach. I'd quit the violin before; I could do it again.
The next morning, the sound of a single robin's chortle awakened me from my frustrated slumber. What's this? A sound? Stupid robin, why did you come to this wasteland? So out of place, you are.
At night, I resumed my usual stroll. In the not-so-darkness, the call of a boreal owl interrupted my thoughts. What are you calling, and why? He loves, and he states it.
On Tuesday, the gulls returned to the frozen lake, waiting with mews of discontent. Juncos called from the trees. I walked the usual path with my dog, but this time, I smelled something: dirt. Dirt, with a hint of sap. Gradually, the colors seeped back into my life, watering buried notions.
Why do we play? Do we want to be adored? Do we want the job? Does this nimble, delicate wood carving of scroll and ribs come with strings attached? Will it lead us to a pot of gold? Does it require us to sign away our happiness for a life of striving in vain for that which we cannot have?
Or does it simply create sound from silence? Is this not enough, to create sound from silence? That which was not, now exists, because we play. Without it grows Nothing.
In the back room studio with the yellow walls, I dust my strings to the late night robin who calls in the wood.Tweet
By Bart Meijer
May 6, 2012 03:17
A schedule of performances in the semifinal can be found here.Tweet
By Daniel Broniatowski
May 5, 2012 18:38
When choosing a violin teacher (or music teacher) for yourself, your son, or your daughter, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration. First and foremost is the question of value. What do you consider important in choosing a teacher, in general? How much does music play a role in your life and/or how much of a role would you like music to play in the life of your child?
Let’s address the role of the teacher first. As is the case in any subject, a teacher has the ability to make or break a child’s enthusiasm and sense of interest in a topic. How many of us have memories of teachers who just made a particular subject dreadful! On the flip side, so many of us also have memories of a special favorite teacher who made a subject come alive. Because violin lessons are so intensive in nature, the necessity of student-teacher chemistry is vital. Violin lessons are usually conducted in a one-to-one fashion and last 30-60 minutes on average. In my opinion, the student-teacher relationship should be the final determining factor in choosing the right violin teacher. Many violinists offer trial lessons (even for free!) where both teacher and student can try each other out to see if there is a good fit.
Now, a word about price. Learning the violin takes commitment. You or your child will need weekly lessons. Here in Boston, prices can range from $25-$200 per lesson. A well-known teacher with high credentials, such as a doctorate degree, or a performer in a major orchestra might charge $100/hour or more. A student in college will likely charge on the low-end. Please don't be put off by the cost. Experience matters and musicians have to eat! There are also only a limited amount of hours available to teach, due to the after-school scheduling of most students.
Are you musically inclined? Would you like to impart your love of music to your child? Or perhaps as an adult, you would like to develop a hidden talent! Music is really a labor of love. Whether professional or amateur, the commitment necessary to learn a musical instrument is so great that one must truly love to communicate in order to be a good musician. There is something magical about conveying your innermost feelings through your instrument. In reality, it is a partnership between the performer, the composer, and the audience. While most children are not ready to understand this partnership yet, they can certainly benefit from the discipline that music lessons provide.
In fact, so much more is taught than just how to play the violin! My students learn how to be really good listeners. They also develop character and self-esteem because they are taught never to give up. Yet, they are also taught to seek “out-of-the-box” solutions to problems that cannot be solved through repeating passages alone. Both of these traits apply beyond the music lesson and translate into life skills.
From a practical standpoint, what are your ultimate goals? Please know that if you are an adult and would like to be a virtuoso like Itzhak Perlman, it is unfortunately too late, as it takes over 10,000 hours of practice. Still, it is NEVER too late to learn how to play at a decent level with proper guidance. Furthermore, if your mind is technically inclined, and you enjoy putting together puzzles and/or computer programs line-by-line, you are particularly suited for the hobby of music making, since a musical piece is learned by putting together many parts, phrase by phrase and section by section.
From the standpoint of violin lessons for children, there is a highly important dynamic between the student and his or her parent(s) that comes into play. While I do not advocate a one-size-fits-all approach, many of my students have a parent sit in on the lesson. Others have parents help them practice their music at home. This is a great way to build a rapport between a child and his or her mother or father. In this day, how many parents wish they had a way to relate better to their children?! Music lessons provide a great way to bond.
At the end of the day, music, when taught properly, is all about communication through love. There is no better way to express feelings, whether between parents and their children, the teacher and student, or between the performer and the audience, than through the wordless wonder of music.
-- Daniel Broniatowski, D.M.A.
By Joshua Iyer
May 5, 2012 16:09
One of my favorite video games is called Super Mario Galaxy 2. It's for the Nintendo Wii. You may have heard of it. I really enjoy it not only because of its great gameplay, but also its music, which, unlike many video games, is engendered through a symphony orchestra.
I remember the summer of 2010 (the game came out in May of that year) and I was playing a lot, attempting to go through it all. The soundtrack is huge, featuring a lot of original songs and a lot of songs from past Mario games. For example, the "Sliders theme" from Super Mario 64 is present, and the violin solo in that piece is now remastered, for this time around real heart is put into that violin, not just a MIDI file from the computer. There are also plenty of original themes, with epic choir sections, intense brass sections, and beautiful strings sections. The orchestral soundtrack of this game, and the one that came before this one, is wonderful; I believe this game has one of the best soundtracks ever, and, if I possibly do any composing for video games in the future, I'll be sure to put in some epic orchestra pieces.Tweet
May 5, 2012 02:45
PERIOD PERFORMANCE – KNOWN AS HIPP
Why is it that I have a certain dislike, maybe almost a disdain for Historically Informed Performance Practice? Before it became gradually mainstream from the 1970’s I never even thought about it.
But now we are assailed by recordings of this performance style on radio and TV - and even some “normal” performers are being “polluted” by some of its techniques. We can’t seem to escape from the fact that it is pervading our lives.
Listening to HIPP makes me feel depressed because it is usually a very dead, and in my opinion I hasten to add, miserable sound, and it kind of levels off the dynamics. Also the phrasing, especially in slow music leads to surges and pear shaped notes from string players (is this the influence of the period bow?) The sound, with its lack of vibrato – or very sparing vibrato – is very dead. It does work in very fast music – but it often requires the boosted sound of the recording media, and in real life live scenarios it often then fails due to lack of any punch.
I had better not mention the situation where the performers’ intonation is often rather approximate.
The non use of vibrato in the right place and for the right reasons is of course not new, and groups like the old Borodin String Quartet used it effectively in the Shostakovich recordings in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It was used as a means of contrast for certain fairly short sections of the great string quartets of Shostakovich and others.
Do feel free to disagree with my opinions – but if I felt that there were any worthwhile ideas to be gained from HIPP then I would be only too keen to benefit. Perhaps one area where we can usefully be influenced by HIP performances is in the use of short notes – as long as not taken to ridiculous extremes.
Can anyone point to areas of HIPP that may make me feel a bit more positive towards it?Tweet
By Abby Courtrose
May 5, 2012 01:41
According to some research, violin is considered to be the most popular instrument among children. From my own experience I can say with certainty that it’s completely true! School children simply love to amuse themselves with this gorgeous music tool. And luckily today there is enough of music material for violin that is easy to play and is as well quite easy on ear. It would be good to mention here such easy fun violin pieces as Little ballad by Diego Minoia or La cucaracha by Yuri Pronin.
I don’t try to say that there are living composers to surpass the great classics – I simply don’t know – but I can definitely say that some of today’s musicians have such a unique style that it’s time for a new line comparison to be drawn.Tweet
By Dorothy Barth
May 4, 2012 22:08
Not far from where the Graces danced
Their spell slipped from my fingers
But string song's lure was lasting
No longer do they spin and whirl
By The Weekend Vote
May 4, 2012 15:13
When Eastman Violin Professor Zvi Zeitlin passed away earlier this week, I was moved that so many of his current and former students came forward to memorialize him.
What a difference our teachers make in our lives! Mine have been so important to me, and I do believe I've visited every one of them, gone back for lessons, gone back for classes, gone back for advise, sent holiday cards and written a few letters (and blogs!) of gratitude.
How about you? Do you keep up with your former teacher or teachers? Pick the answer that seems to describe it best, and then tell us about it below.
By Thomas Cooper
May 4, 2012 14:22
Not long ago, I wrote a blog entry describing the heartbreak in the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra over the firing of renowned conductor Benjamin Zander. For over 38 years, he led passionate young people on journeys through some of the most difficult pieces in the orchestral repertoire. Indeed, the YPO recorded pieces such as Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 5, and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1. The Youth Philharmonic Orchestra became world famous for tackling these works, and playing them well, inspiring many. Most recently, the orchestra, under Benjamin Zander, played a sold out concert of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna at the ancient Musikverein, the Golden Hall of Vienna. The crowd was moved to tears. However, in January of 2012, Zander was fired, and there were tears of a different kind as the YPO sat upon the stage of Jordan Hall and played Elgar’s Nimrod (Zander’s farewell piece) unconducted in honor their lost leader. I remember looking around the orchestra myself as I played, watching my friends play with tear-glistened cheeks. Following the concert were protests of all kinds, ranging from a public statement, to picketing on the steps of the Coply Plaza Hotel as the Board of Directors at NEC sat inside. However, as protests died down, and conductor auditions for YPO came to a close, the chance for Zander’s return to the podium looked slim. In spite of all this, news came today that has brought hope to so many members of the orchestra.
Zander announced the inception of his own youth orchestra yesterday, in conjunction with the Boston Philharmonic. The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra promises to be a top notch Youth Orchestra, just as the YPO was. While there are many differences, such as member age ranging through 21, and performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall instead of NEC’s Jordan Hall, the orchestra, in my opinion, will not be so different. I expect that it will still start weekly at TEN PHAST THREE, just as YPO did, and I do expect there to be “white sheets” to Mr. Zander every rehearsal. Just like the YPO, the BPYO promises to be a tuition-free, touring ensemble, bringing top notch music to the world.
On the program for the first season, starting in September of 2012:
“The first two concerts are scheduled in Boston's Symphony Hall on November 25, 2012 and March 10, 2013. Other events in planning include a concerto concert for BYPO members and a May performance in Carnegie Hall.” –Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Directors
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