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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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Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764) vc op.3 no4,5,6

By Bram Heemskerk
December 15, 2012 07:03

Pietro Antonio LOCATELLI (1695-1764) violin concerto's opus3 no 4,5,6 :

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The Comfort of Music: Ten Relaxing Classical Pieces

By Liz Lambson
December 14, 2012 19:38

I recently wrote a post entitled, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy: 10 Ways to Tune Up the Holidays," and have since been thinking more about music as a source of comfort in our lives. Today news spread of another terrifying shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, just days after one just miles from us at the Clackamas Town Center Mall in Oregon.

During this Christmas season, there will be many families gathering together to find a sense of peace and comfort through music, whether to feel the spirit of the holidays or to overcome a sense of grief as they remember loved ones lost.

There have been times in my life when music has been like medicine to me. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Music offers an escape from the noise and chaos in the world. Music therapy is even a popular, effective, and growing practice.

I thought I'd share a list of a few beautiful classical pieces with a brief description of their backgrounds in case you're looking for a calming piece with which to reflect, rest, or even fall asleep. Perhaps take a listen to a recording on Spotify, or put together your own compilation of "Musical Comfort" with downloads from iTunes. You could even pick up some sheet music and learn one of these numbers for performance. Enjoy these magical and comforting pieces during a season of love and togetherness!


Ravel's Mother Goose Suite is soothing collection of childhood stories set to music.

  1. The Mother Goose Suite (Ma Mère l'Oye) by Maurice Ravel – This nostalgic set of fairytale pieces includes musical dramatizations of Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and the Beauty and the Beast. Each dreamy movement transports you into each character's world, allowing you to step away from the present and into the fantasy land of a child's imagination.

  2. Gymnopédie No. 1 by Eric Satie – This simple waltz has a childish feel, like something you might hear from a music box with a slow, repetitive phrase that rocks back and forth between two major seven chords. The piece feels distinctly French, like its composer, with a light and thoughtful melody.

  3. "Vocalise" from "Fourteen Songs" by Sergei Rachmaninoff – "Vocalise" was written for soprano as a vocal composition with no words. This soothing melody has since become extremely popular, transposed and arranged for almost every instrument and even put to words in choral compositions.

  4. "Nimrod," Variation IX, from The Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar – This single movement from the famous Enigma Variations has become one of the most loved and cherished pieces of British composition. When composer Edward Elgar nearly gave up on music altogether in a state of depression, music editor Augustus J. Jaeger encouraged him to continue composing. This movement was written in reference to that conversation in which Jaeger mentioned Beethoven's struggles and composition of the "Pathetique" Piano Sonata No. 8. This movement is commonly performed at memorials and funerals and is also included in numerous film scores. "Nimrod" is the name of an Old Testament patriarch.

  5. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings has become an iconic piece used for memorials, funerals, and in many film scores including movies such as in Lorenzo's Oil, Amélie, and The Elephant Man. This piece was performed in memoriam for historical figures Albert Eistein, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

  6. "O mio babbino caro" ("Oh My Beloved Father") from Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini – This is a famous melody that has become a favorite for vocal performers. Italian for "O, My Beloved Father," this song is beautifully expressive and hopeful with a rising and falling lyrical melody that is both simple and charming.

  7. Appalachian Spring, Movement 1 (Very Slowly) by Aaron Copland – This suite was rewritten as the score of a ballet, but is now one of the most popular pieces performed by professional symphonies. In 1945, composer Aaron Copland even one a Pulitzer Prize for this work. During this movement the characters and setting of the story are introduced with the folk-like and airy harmonies typical of this iconic American composer.

  8. Für Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt – These minimalist pieces for solo piano are mesmerizing with their simplistic, repetitive, and echoing melodies. These two compositions are somewhat different from Arvo Pärt's other 20th century pieces with their calm essence and strong tonal centers.

  9. "Prayer" from Jewish Life by Ernest Bloch – This haunting, rich melody was written for solo cello. The Eastern European character can be felt in the tone of the piece. "Prayer" is an excellent piece to add to a recital if you're looking for a moving number that inspires reflection.

  10. The New World Symphony, Movement 2 by Antonin Dvorak – Dvorak's popular symphony is one of the most regularly performed by orchestras today. This largo's melody, performed by solo English horn, has become absolutely iconic and was set to words in the folk song, "Going Home."


Are there pieces or songs that bring you a sense of peace and comfort? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment to share your favorites.

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Do they teach ethics and business protocols in schools and universities?

By Michelle Jones
December 14, 2012 12:20

I am honestly asking this question as I deal with new graduates each semester. Just because someone has received a degree from a university does not mean that they are now suddenly “professional.” That term must be earned through experience and practice. Just because you know how to play an instrument for pay does not make you a professional musician. There is a difference between being a paid musician and being a professional musician.

A professional musician is one who has taken the time to learn the ropes in the real world from his fellow musicians (usually older and more experienced). He has learned how to handle contracts, act on the actual gigs, deal with referrals and business contacts, and most importantly, be a responsible, ethical person.

1. Contracts – I have a whole blog post on this. Basically, each gig should have a contract that spells out the terms, requirements, etc. Vinylinist.com

2. Acting on the gig – This is the essence of this blog post. How you act is judged immediately from the first communication. If you act professional, then they will expect a professional. If you were recommended for a gig, then you are representing the person who recommended you. Your actions are a direct representation of the person who recommended you. This is one reason I try to be SO careful with recommendations! Be on time (preferably early). Allow extra time for traffic, finding the venue, loading in, parking, etc. Come dressed professionally. You may not be in your performance attire, but you should look presentable. Do not smoke prior to or on breaks at any performance as the odor permeates your hair and clothing. Do not consume alcoholic beverages prior to or during the event. Many contracts have specific clauses that you cannot partake in alcohol at any time on the premises or with the guests, even after the performance. Make sure you are in place at least 3-5 minutes before each set. NEVER give your personal information (especially your card) to anyone other than the person who recommended or hired you. If the gig came as a result of another company/contractor/agent, you must ask them first relating to handing out cards, websites, etc. And if the client requests you for a future date, that booking should always be handled through the original referring/contracting party.

3. Dealing with referrals and business contacts – When I recommend someone, I am saying that I hire him; that I have “vetted” him as being a professional who represents my company. I am trusting that person to be ethical and know that all referrals should come back through me. This is a sure-fire way that I will definitely recommend him again, and even continue hiring him. I have spent years developing my business contacts, and I have learned the hard way about proper business protocols. I am now a respected and even preferred Union contractor based on how I conduct myself with other companies and musicians whom I hire, but that has taken a lifetime to create. I don’t want that reputation jeopardized when one musician acts unprofessional on my event.

4. Being a responsible and ethical person – does this really need to be explained? It appears so. Do the right thing – always. If in your heart you think you did something wrong, you probably did. If you feel the need to try to explain it away, then you probably did something that went against your moral compass. If you screwed up, be an adult and take responsibility for your actions. Apologize, fix whatever might need fixing, then don’t do it again. Learn from your mistakes. Sometimes it is more important to maintain a relationship with someone who can help you and get you many more gigs than to tick off that person in order to get one more gig on your own.

I invite you to read more entries at my website Vinylinist.com

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Building a Violin - One Step at a Time

By Jon Franke
December 13, 2012 20:02

I am documenting the construction of my 100th instrument. Included will be a brief description as well as photos of the various steps. Stay tuned!

I selected the wood that I will use in my 100th instrument! A one piece European Maple back and a European Maple neck. The very fine grained Engelman Spruce for the top I harvested in Sept. 1995 above 6000 ft. from here in Oregon. There is sufficient maple in the back to provide matching ribs. I'm looking forward to building this violin. It has been a long time coming! I will be updating regularly to show the progress. On we go.........

Violin #100 – today's progress.
1.Band saw excessive wood from the maple back.
2.Cut ribs with band saw from back maple.
3.Lightly glue spruce end blocks and corner blocks to inside mold.
4.Use a plane to finish the center joint in the spruce top.
5.Glue and clamp book matched spruce top.
6.Use heat and moisture to shape C-bout ribs.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Transfer shape of corner blocks from template.
2.Band saw corner blocks.
3.Finish corner block profile with file.
4.Glue and clamp c-bout rib.
5.A series of holes are drilled to the height of the arching
from a topographical map.
6.The spruce top is roughed to shape with planes.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Upper and lower bout ribs are glued and clamped in place.
2.Spruce linings are formed and ready for assembly.
3.Linings are glued and clamped.
4.Additional wedges are glued to the maple neck block to facilitate squaring up the block.
5.A template is used to transfer the neck/scroll outline.
6.Planes are used to rough out the maple back.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Trim the linings with a sharp knife.
2.Scrape the ribs.
3.Drill the peg pilot holes in the maple neck block.
4.Band saw the scroll profile.
5.The neck so far.........

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Trim the corner to here.
2.The finished rib garland is removed from the inside mold.
3.The outside profile of the top and overhang are established from the ribs.
4.The corner shape is sketched. I think that a corner that suggests trumpeting is elegant.
5.The outside profile of the spruce top is cut on the band saw.
6.The profile of the top is nearly finished to size with a file.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1. The edge thickness of the spruce top is cut with an end mill in a drill press. Stradivari would have used this method if it existed back in the day... :-)
2. The fingertips are sensitive to imperfections and irregularities in the outside edge of the top. Any imperfections will be mirrored in the purfling. Now is the time to make this perfect.
3. The edge thickness gracefully increases at the corners – think a ski jump.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Remove the saw marks from the scroll profile with a file.
2.Layout the center line of the neck/scroll.
3.Laying out the chin.
4.Sawing the waste wood at the peg box with band saw.
5.Saw excess scroll wood.
6.Pare wood away with chisel.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Some distractions have come up that is not allowing me to update progress every day. Here is the latest photo.
A chamfer is carved to the outline of the pegbox and scroll. This will be a useful visual cue when finishing the pegbox cheeks as well as the rest of the scroll.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Cutting the purfling groove with a single pointed cutter.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The purfling groove wood is chipped out.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The wood c-bout purfling is bent with heat and moisture.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.A scalpel is used to finish off the c-bout purfling groove transition to the bee sting.
2.The purfling bee sting miter is cut.
3.The purfling is ready to be glued in. Any slight imperfections between the width of the purfling and the purfling groove will disappear as the spruce swells around the purfling when glued.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Pictured are the two upper corners of the top prior to completing the edge work.
A point of artistry..........
Mass production produces sameness. Making one at a time lends itself to artistry. My goal when creating the corners of a violin is to create similarities of proportion, form, and gesture. I don't labor to make the corners identical.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.The concave surface above the purfling is shaped with the Channel Scraper Tool.
2.The business end of the Channel Scraper Tool.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Finish carving the spruce top with a finger plane.
2.The top is ready to be scraped.
3.Scraping removes the planing/carving marks as well as provides a smooth surface finish. Scraping can also correct imperfections in the arching.
4.The outside of the top is finished and ready to rough out the inside of the plate.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.Drill down to approximately 1mm of the finished thickness in the spruce top. Extra thickness is allowed to “tune” the plate.
2.The inside of the top is roughed out with a finger plane to the depth of the previously drilled holes.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
1.The f-hole shape is transferred to the top.
2.A divider is used to score the grain to prevent the spruce from chipping when drilled.
3.The lower hole of the f-hole is drilled.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Cutting the f-hole with a scroll saw. I leave plenty of wood for finishing with a knife.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The f-hole is finished with a knife. A graceful flowing form is the objective.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
Fluting the f-holes with a finger plane. The fluting will be finished with a scraper. The f-hole fluting adds a detail of sculpture to the violin top.

Violin #100 – ongoing progress.
The spruce top is finished on the outside. The inside is now finished to the desired thickness (more on this in a couple days). The photo shows the contour of the inside of the top being transferred to the 5.5 mm thick spruce bass bar. Next I will saw the bass bar to the line and fit the bar to the top with a more exacting method.

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On Sailing:

By Kate Little
December 13, 2012 07:40

Learning to play an instrument should feel like sailing toward the horizon: You know you’ll never arrive, but you can chart a course for any destination you please, allowing the goal to guide the journey. The further out the goal, the greater the territory covered, the more numerous the challenges and adventures met, and the more capability accrued.

Violin students, particularly adults, should shun the stale excuse “Of course I’ll never be a professional.” This is true of more than 99.9999% of people who ever undertake to learn a musical instrument anyway, so there is no significance in the remark. Rather, go ahead and set any goal you choose, no matter your age or ability. You’ll get so much further working toward a difficult challenge then you would have had you never set your goal out toward the horizon. And this leaves you with so much more ability with which to make merry. Especially on your violin.

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My online violin school launched today

By Nathan Cole
December 12, 2012 18:34

Today was a big milestone in my project with ArtistWorks, as my online school has officially launched. It's been tough recording and sitting on all these video lessons without being able to interact with students, but that changes starting today!

Actually I got a sneak peek at how my school works over the last 10 days, during "beta testing". As you probably know, software goes through several stages of testing before being released, so that any "bugs" can be found. The same was true for my site. I had a crew of about 20 students who tried every link, tested the forums/chat features, and submitted videos for my feedback. That's been the best part of the pre-launch time: seeing student videos, responding with my own video, and getting their feedback about how they're progressing.

What's interesting to me is that one of the founders of ArtistWorks, David Butler, designed the original AOL (it's true!) so he's intimately familiar with how social networks grow. He observed that nobody visits an empty chat room, or even one with 3 or 4 people in it. But once the room reaches "critical mass", say 7 or more chatters, it explodes in size and activity. On my site, the main resource isn't chat, it's Video Exchanges. Each exchange equals a student video paired with my video feedback. So while it seems daunting at first for a student to post a video of herself playing Mozart Symphony 39, she can watch a bunch of Video Exchanges of that excerpt before posting her own. Therefore each lesson (68 excerpts, 8 concerto movements, 2 Bach movements, 17 etudes, 22 fundamental skills) will eventually have a library of past Video Exchanges that all students can watch and search.

I've taught so many live lessons, and Skype lessons, but I'm excited to see how these exchanges will help my students. You give up the "live" aspect, but you get to watch your feedback as many times as you want, for as long as you want. And you get to see others playing and getting feedback on the same piece. That's something I remember fondly from my Suzuki days.

I even mentioned the shoulder rest debate in one of the lessons on shifting! For the record, I mentioned that even though I use one, I've spent two 1-month periods in my life without, where I learned a great deal about the left hand. :)

nathancoleviolin.com is the place to go.

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The recycle orchestra

By Bram Heemskerk
December 11, 2012 15:14

Some people do not have enough money for wooden instruments so they made it of trash. Here for example someone plays on an oilcancello a Bach sonate:

Here alonger version:

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Marine Corps Orchestra plays the David Letterman Show!

By Laurie Niles
December 11, 2012 14:31

Let's hear it for live music! Congratulations to the President's Own Marine Corps Orchestra for its appearance on the David Letterman Show Monday night.

They played Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," the ultimate holiday mood-lifter! (Look for our friend and V.com member Peter Wilson in the violin section!)

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Skype Violin Lessons

By Heather Broadbent
December 11, 2012 06:44

I have taught privately for twenty years and never did I ever think that my studio would be online. I never even imagined skype lessons. When the idea was presented to me I thought how effective could it really be. I travel quite a bit with performing the violin and one summer before going overseas a student of mine (from a military family and very comfortable with skype) requested skype lessons. I said ok we can give it a try but I never found the time to make it possible. The following year she asked again and I thought OK - I will seriously give it a try. That summer I taught three students by skype and was terribly surprised by how effective it was. The same summer I was encouraged by another person to make youtube teaching videos. Again I ventured out of my comfort zone and was very surprised, yet again, how effective this is for a teaching tool and it goes hand in hand with the skype violin lessons. I am a die hard traditionalist and am nowhere near what I would call a techie but in many ways I have ventured outside of my comfort zone. Since then I have read multiple articles on the new age of education for children. Children's brains are "turned on" while being taught through social networking sites for example youtube and skype. I have seen this for myself when with one student of mine who struggled learning a scale after having conventional private lessons with me finally learned it perfectly via a skype lesson and one youtube video.

Everything could not have been orchestrated better because now I am living in Gabrovo, Bulgaria playing with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra and I am still able to teach my violin students in the states and add students from around the world to my newly located online violin studio. Currently, I have a student that is a high school senior preparing for university auditions and because of skype violin lessons I can still work with her in her preparation process. We indeed do live in an exciting day and age with endless possibilities.

Now when I tell people I teach on skype they look at me and say how is that possible and I smile and say I once thought the same.....

Happy Practicing!!!

Heather Broadbent


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Fiddler or Violinist? Like being both!

By Rupert Kirby
December 10, 2012 13:07

Although classically trained, and instilled with a love particularly of the Baroque, I do like to cross over and use my violin as a fiddle! Here's a playlist of some of my favourite Folk Fiddle Tunes!

KirbyFiddler's Fiddle Tunes!

I like a bit of melody and rhythmic interest, a tune needs to have something special about it, there are hundreds of Irish tunes, for example, I hear and try to play which don't quite connect in my head, but occasionally something clicks! Although my main focus has been on music of the UK and Ireland I am open to discovery, American bluegrass or old tyme throws up some pleasant moments.


Here's another playlist you might like to have on in the background over the Christmas Holidays,

Not really anything to do with Violin or Fiddles, but more music from the folk side of my split personality!

The Exmoor Carolers!

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