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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: What is the likeliest thing to draw you to a live concert performance?

By The Weekend Vote
March 29, 2013 12:23

When I attend a concert, it's because….how would you answer?

Do you attend in order to hear a particular ensemble or hear a particular guest artist? Do you attend because certain repertoire will be played? Do you attend simply to experience something new?

You may have a combination of reasons to go to a concert, but what would be the single likeliest draw for you? For me, it's usually the guest artist. Even when I went to see the entire Mahler symphony cycle in LA, it was because Dudamel was conducting the LA Phil -- the draw was Dudamel, because I knew I would hear Mahler a certain way. The Mahler was a secondary draw! Of course, I have on occasion chosen a concert, simply because of the repertoire.

How about you? Do you go to hear a specific artist? Do you go to hear repertoire? Or, do you simply never go to live concerts? Let us know:

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Best coin ever spent

By Sal Peralta
March 29, 2013 06:42

Videos like this one and the ability to share them via YouTube are making classical music cool again. Who wouldn't love to watch this video?

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Suzuki World Convention -Day 3

By Julie Bamberger Roubik
March 29, 2013 05:18

Today's schedule began with viola repertoire class. Is there any way to better start your day than with the C string? The students were divided into two classes .. Books 1-3, and Books 4+. I spent the morning shuttling back and forth between the two rooms. Each group was taught by one Japanese teacher and one Australian. The main points focused on throughout the morning were tone, C-string sound/posture, ensemble and balance.

C String Power
C-string power

One of the Japanese teachers used an exercise she learned from wind surfing to talk about "tanden" or the center of balance.

Learning Balance
Learning balance

After the morning classes, I met up with some teachers from California and Colorado for lunch on the plaza. We all had our Japanese box lunches, surrounded by other participants.

Teachers Taking a Break

After lunch, I went to e violin group lesson in the gym. More like a mob lesson ... hundredss of children from Books 1-7.

Violin Master Class
One students among hundreds!

Three teachers took turns leading the group .. One from Japan, one from Belgium and Nicolas Kendall from the US. Pieces ranged from Twinkle - Eccles, the teachers picking one main point and using games and exercises to enhance the technique. Nicolas, especially, got the children laughing and excited.

There is no way to find sufficient words to describe the awesomeness of that sound and the energy in the room.

Later that afternoon we went to hear teacher presentations. First was Cathy Lee giving a talk on bowing techniques, and how to make them easier and physically efficient. We then hurried across town to hear William Preucil speak on Viola Book 8 and aspects of viola tone. My favorite remarks of his were "Music is what happens in between the notes." and "Tone is not in the viola, it comes from inside you."

There are so many activities and events going on throughout the day that its very hard to choose what to see. But, no matter what we choose, we have a mind-blowing experience.

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Suzuki Method World Convention Day 2

By Julie Bamberger Roubik
March 28, 2013 15:49

The World Will Be One, Joined Together By Children's Music

Today was the official start of the Suzuki Method World Convention, with the opening ceremonies at the Matsumoto City Gym. As we walked in, we could see the floor FILLED with children, arranged by instrument, in rows via the aid of tape on the floor.

Opening concert

There are over 5,000 participants from 34 countries, and around 1,300 of them are children. Instruments represented are violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, flute and piano. Our seats overlooked the gym from the second floor. At the head of the gym, sat the international faculty orchestra, the conference dignitaries, including her royal highness, the Imperial Princess, and a group of koto (Japanese zither) players in full kimono.

The event began with a video of Dr. Suzuki playing one of his original compositions, the Berceuse. Following that, the faculty orchestra, conducted by Dr. Toyoda, played another composition by Suzuki entitled "Wishing Prayer for Happiness of All Children." Then came greetings from the conference dignitaries, the Mayor of Matsumoto, the Governor of Nagano Prefecture, Dr. Toyoda and even an address by Her Royal Highness. Princess Takamado's late husband and three children were all Suzuki students, so the method has a special place in her heart and she was pleased to be the honorary conference president.

As the various participating countries were introduced, the participants from each area stood and waved proudly. The koto group then performed two pieces, and were joined for a third by a select group of violin students playing a piece originally for koto and shakuhachi (Japanese flute).

The grand finale was the student performance. All the students, all instruments together, performed Paganini's "Witches Dance", "Song of the Wind", "Lightly Row" and "Twinkle." The sound resonated throughout the hall and touched every person there.

After lunch, short (1 hour) group lessons were held. I went to the viola class, which was taught by two Japanese and two Australians.

Viola master class

There were about 8 students in the class from various countries. The class focused mostly on getting a big, but relaxed tone, even on the C string and centered around Twinkle A, Theme and Bohemian Folk Song. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Suzuki's vision come to life in front of your eyes. Some spoke English, some Japanese, but everyone understood what to do via the language of music.

Then we went to the first Symposium, the keynote speech by Ryugo Hayano, a Japanese professor of Physics and CERN scientist who had been a student of Dr. Suzuki's in the 50s and 60s. His topic was on the main principles if Dr. Suzuki's method, and even though he was "preaching to the choir" so to speak, it was interesting to hear and see pictures from someone who lived the method and was part of the Tour Group.

We didn't have tickets to the second Symposium, so instead we decided to walk over to Dr. Suzuki's house, which is now a museum.

Shinichi Suzuki's home

As we arrived, we were honored to see Princess Takamado who had been making a ceremonial visit.

Her royal highness, the Imperial Princess

In the house are displayed various pictures and memorabilia, many honorary degrees and awards and even letters of commendation from Presidents Carter and Reagan. Some of his manuscripts, including the original "Nurtured By Love" are also there, as well as his piano and violin.

Dr. Suzuki's violin and piano

His study looks as if he would come waking in anytime, sit down, and ask you to play for him and his spirit can be felt in every room!

Dr. Suzuki's study

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The (un)tuning pegs: how to evaluate the pegs of your violin, viola or cello?

By Zlata Brouwer
March 28, 2013 11:13

An instrument that cannot be tuned, cannot be played!

So... the tuning (or untuning) pegs of your violin, viola or cello are very important.

In this video I show you how you can evaluate the tuning pegs yourself.

Is this video useful for you? If yes, please let me know in the comments!

If you have questions for me, feel free to ask!


Violinist and Skype violin teacher at Violin Lounge

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Bruch's Ineffable Magic

By Terez Mertes
March 28, 2013 09:17

This first appeared at The Classical Girl

Max Bruch, German composer of the Romantic Era, wrote over 200 works. Ask any violinist and they’ll nod, maybe even roll their eyes, saying “of course, the violin concerto. Played it. Everyone student has.” Or heard it. Or heard Bruch’s celebrated Kol Nidrei for Cello and Orchestra. Or his Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra. And that sums up Bruch for most.

Bruch wrote two more violin concertos, that, possibly, you’ve never heard (not to mention a gorgeous Serenade for Violin and Orchestra). He wrote three symphonies that, likely, you’ve never heard. I’m listening to the second one right now. It’s cracking my heart open.

The problem with poor Bruch was, you see, he was born too late. He had to follow in the footsteps of German masters of the Romantic Era such as Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms. He learned a lot from them. He loved their structured, balanced, lyrical style; it was what he did best. However, by the time Bruch had a really good sound going, the times, they were a-changing. A new kind of Romantic music was piquing the interest of the public, the more flamboyant, passionate styles of Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Wagner, Bruckner. Big sound, larger than life drama and pathos and redemption all built in. Bigger orchestras. Bigger risks. More attention when those risks paid off.

And like that, the tides had shifted. While Bruch continued on with a successful career, composing, teaching, conducting, what have you, history turned its back on him. It cast him as a side note to the masters and deemed his repertoire, with the exception of his violin concerto and Kol Nidrei, largely forgettable. Not music you will hear too frequently in today’s concert halls.

I love Bruch’s other violin concertos, his Serenade for Violin and Orchestra (op. 75), his Romance for Violin and Orchestra (op. 42), his Im Memoriam (op. 65). And his symphonies. The No. 2 in F-minor, in particular. The second movement. I am utterly smitten.

I play it over and over and it’s as if I can feel the spirits of Schumann and Beethoven—heck, the whole gang of them. They are all clustered around me here as I sit and listen. Where did it come from, this music? What made Bruch write the movement this way, with those swirls of otherworldly emotion, so very much like Schumann’s own Symphony No. 2, third movement? It’s uncanny. I get that same prickly feeling, both elated and close to tears, and it’s like I’ve consumed a shot of something heady, like antique scotch, and instantly my emotions are running higher, as is the extravagance of my thoughts, my descriptions of the music, along with this increased need, almost frantic, to get it right, to explain it all with words.

I step outside myself, study myself, and wearily shake my head. Observe the stubborn soul, so set on the obscure notion of blogging about classical music, not the best market-oriented decision for a working writer, not one of those things that will get circulated via the Internet mainstream. And not only do I chose an obscure subject to blog about, but a relatively obscure composer and his relatively forgotten work.

And yet, really, isn’t that the reason, right there, to do it? To hold something up, turn on the mic, and shout your find out to the world. To say, “Folks, this one is a gem. You have to hunt down a copy and give it a good listen. This is pure genius.” No, wrong word. It wasn’t pure genius, pure originality on Bruch’s part. I’d have to give those awards to Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann. But what Bruch produced, is art. Pure unadulterated art that seems to give off an invisible radiance, one you can feel on your flushed cheeks, deep within your heart as you listen. This is art that got overlooked because it came just a little too late in the cycle of things, in the relentless push of progress, seeking out a new sound, something less romantic, more gritty and provocative.

I love Mahler. Love his work. I think it’s one-of-a-kind. But just right at this moment I want him to take a back seat to the deserving art of Max Bruch and the ineffable magic he has conjured, particularly in his second symphony, second movement. I’m not sure how many people will agree with me on this. Reviews I’ve found online call it “not very memorable” and, while faithful to the style of the German masters, “nothing as tuneful or engaging.” And I play the second symphony again, listen, and shake my head at how wrong the reviewer got it.

The second movement plays for eleven minutes. For that time (because of course I am listening to it yet again), I will once more puzzle over what makes it work, what is seizing my heart, keeping it hostage. I will come back tomorrow, play it again and again, in the hopes that at some point I will find the clues required to unlock that place, release me from this obsession. And maybe, through that, I can crack the nut of why classical music affects me as it does, and why it feels so important, so vital, that I transcribe.

I’m sure I’ve failed dismally with these extravagant, sentimental words of mine. Or maybe, just by trying, by sending it Out There into the public domain, I’ve set the wheel in motion, the music in motion. One can only try. That, I’ve decided, is obligation to art, and the artists who created it.

* * *

Here is a performance of Bruch's Symphony No. 2; the second movement begins at 12:27.

©2013 Terez Rose

PS: And this. My heartfelt thanks to violinist Salvatore Accardo and his lovely, loving renditions of so much of Bruch’s music. He has my undying devotion.

His "Concertos" link at Amazon

"Symphonies" link at Amazon

Comments (11) | Archive Link

Suzuki Method World Convention, Day 1: Konnichi-wa from Japan

By Julie Bamberger Roubik
March 27, 2013 16:25

What an honor it is to be in the city where the Suzuki Method all began, and continues to be nurtured. This is my third trip to Matsumoto -- the first was for the Suzuki World Conference in 1999, the second with some students to attend the Suzuki Summer School in 2005. It never loses its charm, however, and each visit is a new adventure.

I arrived by Shinkansen (bullet train) from a visit to Kyoto where we did a whirlwind tour of six temples and the district of Gion. At the station, we were met by a conference volunteer to help us find our hotel and registration. Our lodging is at the Hotel Iidaya, directly across from the station. It is a traditional style Japanese hotel, with small rooms and o-furo (baths) in each bathroom.

We walked to the Performing Arts Center to check in to the 16th Suzuki Method World Convention .. everything is done by Qr code scan on iPads.

After getting our conference bag, and materials, we walked to the Matsumoto castle for some welcome events, which included performance-art calligraphy, sword-fighting, and Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). We also got to tour the castle, one of the oldest and most magnificent castles still standing in Japan.

Matsumoto Castle

Later that night was the teachers welcome banquet. Dr. Koji Toyoda and other dignitaries, including her Imperial Highness, pounded open a ceremonial sake barrel to officially open the conference. We even got to sample the sake ourselves! We were treated to an enormous buffet of many Japanese delicacies, including a sushi station! It was great to run into old friends from the states, and meet new ones from all over the world!

With Ed Kreitman of Chicago

As a part of the ceremonies, we were presented with a live performance by a local Taiko drumming group. The sound resonated throughout the building and in our hearts. We were reminded of the reason we all are here, with a video of Dr. Suzuki playing one of his original pieces. Everyone applauded as if it were a live performance.

My most special moment of the night was running into an American woman, now living in Japan, who was my guide when I came with students to the summer school. Her son had been given viola so my viola student would not be the only English speaker in her orchestra. From that experience, she told me, her son began playing viola as his maininstrument, and now there is a small but mighty student viola contingent in Japan. That made me feel both humbled and proud.

Japan is truly an amazing place, and my second home since I was an exchange student here in high school. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

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Toddler Music - Violin for Toddlers

By Heather Broadbent
March 26, 2013 13:58

Toddler Music - Violin for Toddlers

When you start to expose or introduce the violin to toddlers it is not the best idea to put a real violin in their hands at first. In these videos, I discuss different ways to have the child learn to hold a violin and respect the violin before they use an actual violin.

Subscribe to my youtube channel for more free video training.

Check out  "Toy" Violin on my youtube channel along with all my other free video training.

What you can do before putting a real violin bow in the toddler's hands.

Happy Practicing!

Heather Broadbent

Subscribe to my newsletter for playing and teaching tips

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V.com weekend vote: From what century is your fiddle?

By The Weekend Vote
March 24, 2013 17:23

I find that an audience enjoys hearing about my fiddle, as much as I enjoy telling them about it. It's about 200 years old, so I like speculating that maybe the piece I'm about to play (if it's an old classic) is something that was played on the fiddle before I was even born!

People seemed equally curious about my 20th c. violin as well; as it was made in Montana, had some amber in the varnish, etc. I actually knew much more about it, because the maker was living.

From what century is your primary fiddle? (Remember, if it was made in 1950, it's a 20th-century violin, if it was made in 1789, it's an 18th century violin, etc.)

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Ysaÿe Exstase op.21+ Wieniawski Legende op.17 for violin + orchestra/piano

By Bram Heemskerk
March 24, 2013 10:49

2 pieces of Ysaye + Wieniawski with both piano and orchestra accompaniment.
Ysaÿe, Eugène Exstase op.21 for violin + orchestra

+ Ysaÿe, Eugène Exstase op.21 for violin + piano

Wieniawski, Henryk Legende op.17 for violin + orchestra

One reaction of Fatih Oguzhan was
i prefer the piano accompaniment? version...
So here it is:
+ Wieniawski, Henryk Legende op.17 for violin + piano

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