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The Weekend Vote

V.com weekend vote: Which tunes work best for busking?

September 26, 2014 09:48

london buskersJosh Bell is not exactly doing the same thing next Tuesday as he did eight years ago -- he's giving a performance at the Metro station. But he's not busking incognito.

But what if he were busking? What if YOU were busking? How do you get a crowd to gather around, and how do you actually make money at this? I'm specifically wondering what kinds of music work best in the busking scenario. I've assembled a list of tunes that loosely represent different kinds of music: classical, bluegrass, movie/musical, jazz or folk/gypsy. Pick the one you think would work best, and then share with us what other tunes you think play best for busking. I welcome any busking stories, too!

10 replies

V.com weekend vote: Do you stretch before and/or after playing the violin or viola?

September 12, 2014 11:49

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Playing the violin can be a pain in the neck. Literally!

One of the easiest ways we can prevent injury is to stretch before playing. In fact, here are three articles that are full of good stretches to do, to keep yourself pain-free while engaging in this strange physical activity of violin-playing.

But how often do you do your warm-ups before rehearsal, practice or performance? Back when I played in the Omaha Symphony, I managed to injure my neck enough to seek out a physical therapist. She gave me a set of neck exercises to do before playing, and for several months I dutifully stretched for five minutes before rehearsal and practice. Then the pain went away, and I stopped!


But the best treatment for these problems is prevention, and that means doing the neck, wrist, arms stretches even when there is no problem. In fact, as I think about this as a teacher, stretches might be a good way to start off lessons with students, introducing those good habits from the beginning.

I'm curious about whether very many people routinely stretch before and/or after playing. And please feel free to comment on any exercises or routines that you find helpful for preventing injury and/or recovering from injury.

10 replies

V.com weekend vote: Did you buy your last instrument over the Internet, or in person?

September 5, 2014 11:57

I'm imagining an old-fashioned image, of a violin in a shop window, and a child lingering, asking, "What is that, Mom?" Maybe a few months later the child starts begging to try that instrument.

I wonder if, today, that window is a computer screen!

Certainly, it's a different experience, to evaluate violin in person at a violin shop, or to evaluate it over the Internet.


Buying a violin over the Internet can be a risky deal, but if you do your research, enlist the help of a teacher or trusted colleague, you can find reputable dealers on the Internet and find a decent instrument. Increasingly, commerce of any kind seems to be moving to the Internet, after all. And many companies allow you to test several instruments that they send, and decide between them. This is particularly helpful if you live nowhere near a physical violin shop or maker's workshop.

Still, the experience of visiting a violin shop or a dealer's workshop is informative to all physical senses. Usually a dealer will also let you take a few violins home to test, but while at the shop, you can narrow down your options by holding the instruments, playing them, comparing them, and inspecting them from any angle. Sometimes I accompany my students when they test out violins at a local shop, just to help them narrow down their choices. It's a special chunk of time, in a special place. That said, I do live in a region with a number of high-quality shops.

Another option is to start the process online, in which a faraway shop sends samples for you to try, before you commit to buying anything.

For you, how did you choose your most recent violin? Was it mostly over the Internet, or did you go in person to a dealer or maker?

15 replies

Previous entries: August 2014

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