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The Weekend Vote

V.com weekend vote: When is the last time you played something by memory?

August 29, 2014 10:09

When is the last time you played something by memory?

koko spotlight

Performing a with the music and performing by memory involve different levels of preparation and different kinds of concentration.

"If you don't know it by memory, you don't really know it. It has to become part of you," said Curtis Professor of Violin Aaron Rosand in a recent interview with Violinist.com. The English language has a nice idiom for playing by memory: "playing by heart." Anyone who has put in the effort to memorize something knows that this saying contains much truth.

Students routinely memorize pieces for their teachers and often are required to perform them in recital. In the early stages, some students prefer playing by memory to reading music. But what happens when we move on from being students? Once we get adept at reading, though, we can also grow reliant on it. The wonderful thing about reading music is that it allows us to play new music on sight and prepare a performance without as much rehearsal as memorization would take. Orchestra playing often involves just a few rehearsals -- with music, of course!

And once you move past having a teacher, do you memorize music on your own?

When was the last time you memorized music, and performed it? Please vote, and share your thoughts about this topic in the comments section below.

15 replies

V.com weekend vote: What is your chin rest set-up?

August 22, 2014 09:47

Chances are that your violin came with a chin rest, but is it the best chin rest for you?


Louis Spohr designed the first chin rest, which was center-mounted, over the tailpiece. The chin rest above is center-mounted, but the cup is to the left of the tailpiece.

These days, one has a huge range of choices. If you are planning to make a change, you'll likely need to try a range of different rests to find the best fit. That probably means going to a violin shop that carries many chin rests, so you can try them in person.

A chin rest should suit the length of your neck as well as the shape of your jaw. Besides height and shape, you also need to determine whether you want the chin rest placed right over the tailpiece, or to the left of the tailpiece.

How is your chin rest set up?

18 replies

What kind of fittings (pegs and tailpiece) do you have on your main instrument?

August 15, 2014 14:02

What kind of fittings do you have on your main instrument?

For those who aren’t sure what that means, the fittings are the tailpiece, pegs, chin rest and bridge — those parts of the violin that can be interchanged. For the purposes of this vote, we’re just going to talk about the pegs and tailpiece, which often come as a matching set, as the chin rest is very often customized to the player and thus not always part of a “set.”

Here is a description of various materials used for fittings, based on Violinist.com discussions from the past about the topic:

Boxwood: The softest, lightest and considered by some to be the most hypoallergenic. Comes in a range of shades.
Rosewood: Softer than ebony but harder than boxwood. Most workable for peg-turning
Ebony: Considered the strongest, hardest and most durable
Composite: Carbon fiber or another synthetic material
Something else: Maybe yours is a combination, or another kind of wood not mentioned.

What do you have? Please feel free to post comments about it. Post pictures, too, if you like! Sometimes people even have beautifully carved fittings, or fittings with gold or ivory (which might be trouble, these days!)

12 replies

V.com weekend vote: Do you play the piano?

August 8, 2014 17:00

When I first wanted to play the violin, my mother's response to the idea was, "No, you are going to play the piano!"

When I pointed out that we did not actually have a piano in the house, she relented. This meant, though, that I learned the violin first, well before I learned piano.

A certain school of thought holds that a child should first learn the piano, in order to understand the basics of theory and reading. Only after having a rudimentary level of piano skill should one move on to other instruments.


This is certainly not always practical, nor is it the way things seem to happen in the world! But, having recently enjoyed a year of piano lessons, I found that the whole endeavor really did strengthen my core musicianship, and I say this as a person with a music degree, as a longtime orchestra player, as a longtime teacher, etc. etc. I took piano in college, but it was a rather hurried and practical program aimed to push every student into a decent level of proficiency. By contrast, over the last year I enjoyed taking some time to think, enjoy and explore the piano.

How about you? What is your relationship to the piano? Is it something you learned, ever? Did you do it before or after the violin? Do you have a good level of proficiency?

16 replies

V.com weekend vote: How many violin-related albums have you purchased in the last year?

August 1, 2014 12:29

With Youtube, streaming services, satellite radio, file-sharing and the like, do you still buy violin recordings?

Lots of CDs

I hope so! It's one way to support excellent musical artists and their work, while also growing your library with inspiring music, whether you have a digital or physical library.

These days there are so many ways to buy albums, whether you are getting MP3s or physical CDs: Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, etc. And if you get actual physical CDs, you can enjoy the pretty little booklets with program notes and photos!

For this week's poll, let us know how many recordings you've purchased in the last year, whether they be digital or physical. If you have bought digital recordings as individual tracks, you can count eight tracks as one "album." Also, be sure to tell us in the comments about recent recordings you have enjoyed, and about what kind of technology you are using for listening these days.

12 replies

Previous entries: July 2014

What makes an elite violinist?

Sarah Chang Our interview with Sarah Chang is one of more than two dozen in The Violinist.com Interviews: Volume 1, which also features talks with Joshua Bell, Maxim Vengerov, and David Garrett, as well as a foreword by Hilary Hahn.

Get it now! For Kindle | For iBooks | In Paperback

Chiara String Quartet

Contest: Chiara String Quartet

Enter to win "Brahms by Heart," featuring the Chiara String Quartet playing all from memory.