August 2010

Professor V Says to Practice Naked

August 23, 2010 10:31

Ok, maybe Professor V-- violinist Todd Ehle -- didn't say to practice naked, but he said Paul Rolland said to practice naked. Read the interview below to learn more about his wonderful personal philosophies on teaching, learning, and staying healthy.

Professor V's violin instruction videos on YouTube are gaining a lot of well-deserved attention. They are excellent, practical instruction that violin students worldwide rely on. I wanted to know what makes him tick, so Red Desert Violin virtually "sat down" with Professor V for an in-depth interview. (And I highly recommend that you click on his links to take advantage of his wonderful resources.)

If you enjoy this interview and would like some cool freebies like a printable Daily Practice Diary template and "The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Practicing the Violin", come visit Red Desert!

About your philosophy of teaching, you said something that is near and dear to my own heart. You said, "I follow the Suzuki ideal that every child can learn if the home environment is supportive. I also believe that creating a well-rounded student is more important than creating a competition-winning student. I believe that students that develop a love for the arts will potentially enjoy a richer life." How do you apply that philosophy to your teaching style, and can you share an example of this philosophy in action, perhaps from your teaching experiences at Del Mar College?

I understand that parents of young violinists must create a supportive environment with a structured practice routine, but what sort of "proper environment" can independent students (with no parental oversight) create for themselves? Any suggestions?

I know of some students who succeeded despite their inferior teachers, and some students who failed despite their fabulous teachers. Could you comment on this phenomenon, specifically for students who might be questioning the effectiveness of their teacher?

You said it's the teacher's job to motivate students. Can you share a couple tools you use to motivate? Also, by "motivate", do you also mean "inspire"?

Could you give us your ideas or guidelines on when a student should "stick it out" with a teacher, versus some red flags or tell-tale signs that they should consider changing teachers?

Your teaching derives a lot from Paul Rolland's teaching approach. It has been said that Rolland's Teaching of Action in String Playing has influenced your instruction videos. Could you share the basic gist of Rolland's book and how it influenced your teaching?

Speaking of different teaching methods, would you please tell us your thoughts on blending methods and why you choose not to adhere to just one?

Not only have you drawn from other methods, but you recently started creating your own method, based on the folk tune, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Could you describe your method, tell us what makes it unique, and why you felt it necessary to create it?

Strad Magazine recently gave you kudos for your online instructional videos, which have been viewed by millions. In your experience, what are the strengths and weaknesses of online instruction?

You've been very open about your neck and shoulder problems. Do you have any advice for violinists that might help them to avoid those same problems?

Can you offer any violin-specific motions/positions to take precautions with, or "red flags" to watch out for, in order to be pro-active in preventing over-use or tension injuries?

You also play Irish Fiddle. How did you learn to play in that style? Any thoughts on joining a band?

In addition to Classical, Baroque, and Irish style, you also have artwork online. Can you talk a little about your artistic diversity and share other hobbies you might have?

Care to share your future plans with us?

You have been working on recording some Baroque pieces, including works by Biber, which involves some "scordatura" tuning, making recordings of his work somewhat uncommon. When do we get to hear your recent Baroque recordings?

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My Catholic Wedding Story

August 13, 2010 17:28

As a freelance musician, I've played hundreds of weddings. And let me tell you, Catholic weddings are looooong! Very long. I knew this. So I'm not sure what drug I was on when I decided to drink a nice, cold 44 oz. Diet Coke on my way to a Catholic wedding.

This wedding was gorgeous—the whole wedding party was decked out. We're talking a Ring Boy, a Flower Girl, an actual Baroque Trumpeter for the Trumpet Voluntary—this large Catholic church must have been packed with more than 600 guests.

I started to feel a little pressure on my bladder during the Trumpet Voluntary. I know by now that when that pressure starts, I've got about a half hour before I will be absolutely desperate, and 45 minutes before I'm in danger of peeing my pants.

So I started looking around for a discrete exit where I could go do my business during one of the scripture readings. To my horror, I started to realize that the only exit was at the back of the chapel, where I would have to stroll conspicuously all the way from the choir seating down the CENTER AISLE, through all 600 guests to get out to a restroom. I didn't want to do something that would make the string quartet look bad, because this was a new quartet that I really wanted to play more gigs with.

I looked at the program and had to disguise my panic as I realized we were not even a quarter way through this wedding!

I would just have to hold it and hope my bladder would cooperate. Well, one scripture reading, a congregational song, and Pachelbel Canon later, I knew I would never be able to make it through the vows, which were still at least 30 minutes down the line.

By now, I was at the desperate stage, physically crossing my legs and loosening my pants to alleviate pressure.

I desperately searched the room, and finally realized....I'm in the choir seating! Surely a church this size has a warm-up room for the choir. I looked behind me and saw a set of double doors.

Ahhh! An alternate restroom! I held it through Panis Angelicus, pushing the tenor just a little faster than normal, then I calmly set my violin down and cool as a cucumber, walked to the back of the choir seating and through the doors.

It was a big room, even had a coffee station with the nice vacuum-pump coffee caraffs….but….NO RESTROOM!!! I circled the room three times hoping a magic door would appear. By now, I was ready to burst, and I only had about 3 minutes before we had to play our next tune.

My desperate eyes finally settled on the coffee station….and the styrofoam cups next to it. (Hey, until you've been in the same situation don't say you wouldn't have the same thought.) After choking down the last ounce of dignity I had before this fateful day, I grabbed three cups. They don’t hold much.

I stooped behind a big indoor plant for some privacy, and began. It was hard to control the splash back, but I managed to keep it to a minimum. My estimation was correct….I filled all three coffee cups. Ah…sweet relief.

I had about one minute left before we had to play, I was sure the quartet was getting nervous….but I was now stuck with 3 cups full of biohazard! I couldn’t just LEAVE it…..and there wasn’t even a drinking fountain or sink in the room. I call this POOR PLANNING! Who designs these places, anyway? Monks who never have to pee!??

I went back to my friend, the plant, hesitated for about 1 second, then dumped all three cups into the planter, tossed the cups in the garbage, and got back in my seat with 30 seconds to spare before playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

But deep inside, there was no joy. I felt I had committed a crime against nature, and took my own vow that day: No More Diet Coke Before Catholic Weddings!


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