LA Phil's Teng Li Offers a Rare Performance of Paganini's Sonata per la Grand Viola border=0 align=

LA Phil's Teng Li Offers a Rare Performance of Paganini's Sonata per la Grand Viola

August 8, 2022, 4:33 PM · Excited for this weekend's big Joshua Bell concert, with fireworks, at the Hollywood Bowl? Don't overlook what is happening the night before.

On Thursday night, violinist Nathan Cole, our longtime friend who is First Associate Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will play the solos in the much beloved "Scheherazade." More importantly, though, is a very rare performance of one of the hardest works ever written for viola, Paganini's "Sonata per la Grand Viola," which will be performed by Principal Violist Teng Li with the LA Phil.

She also happens to be playing the piece on an even rarer instrument, the c. late 1500's Peregrino di Zanetto viola, her regular instrument which is owned by the LA Phil. Just to reiterate - it's a 500-year-old instrument! The viola was made several hundred years before Paganini wrote the piece in the 1830s, and well before Nathan's 1729 "Jack Benny" Stradivari violin (also owned by the LA Phil) was made!

I spoke to Nathan and Teng about the performance in the brief video interview below, and then I spoke a little more in-depth with Teng in this written article, below the video. Truly, to play the Paganini Grand Sonata is quite a feat, so if you are able to come to the Hollywood Bowl this Thursday, check it out!

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Violinists, On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! - The Art of Starting

August 8, 2022, 12:16 PM · Musicians have a lot to think about when starting a piece or a passage. On their minds are the tone that they’re trying to set, the rhythmic quality, and the first note itself – all of which can make them feel overly cautious. Violinists also have to move the bow without scratching. It makes us appreciate how so many musical parts become integrated. However, starting is often the most difficult part of this system. In fact, starting and stopping several times is a rather common problem. Keep reading... weekend vote: How often do you play scales?

August 6, 2022, 11:32 PM · Ah scales, they are wonderful and they are magical. I turn to them when I need to warm up, when I need to get in shape, when I need to work something out. What are your views on scales, and how often do you play them? What scale system do you use, and how many octaves do you play? Do you have a routine for working through various kinds of scales? Do you do something other than scales that you feel serves the same function? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts!

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Violin Technique: Curing the Crash Landing on Bow Retakes

August 5, 2022, 1:24 PM · What happens when you play down-bow, then you have to lift the bow in the air and play another down-bow?

Hopefully not a "crash landing"!

We call this action a "re-take" or a "circle bow." Ideally, the bow lands gently, without any kind of offensive or unintended sound.

However, when the bow "crash-lands," it tends to bounce, skitter and scratch. It feels out of control, because it is.

What is causing this crash landing, and how do you get it back in control? Here are a few culprits: weakness in the bow hold; landing in the middle instead of the lower-half of the bow; and landing while still in motion.

In this video I've outlined a few ways to "cure" the crash landing - including some exercises for strengthening the right pinkie. Here it is for you to watch, and I'll describe the exercises below:

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