March 2013

Best coin ever spent

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?

6 replies

Product Review: Anytune & Anytune Pro+

March 16, 2013 09:06

Over in the "How do you use Technology?" discussion thread, I mention an app that I have found helpful as a Suzuki parent. I thought it would be a good one to discuss for my next product review, so here goes:

Anytune and Anytune Pro+ are apps that allow iPhone and iPad users to take songs from their iTunes and slow them down, break them into segments, and loop through either the song or the segment, repetitively.

These apps are available through the App store for free, and for $19.99, respectively. Anytune also has a customer support app that i have not tried.

The simplest features... those that allow the user to slow down a song can be used right away by anyone who is tech savvy enough to use a dvd player. The slowdown comes at some minor expense of sound quality on the free version but the pitch remains correct.

The more complex features, such as looping pieces; breaking songs into segments and looping the segments; or the step-it-up" trainer are only marginally more complicated, but still simple to use.

My favorite use for the app is to practice the "Violin Hero" method of practice.

This is a practice method in which I put the earbuds in and the mute on my violin. Using the "step-it-up trainer" feature available on the Pro+ version, or just doing it manually on the free version, I start my practice (usually with the sheet music on the stand) at a low rate of speed, (i.e., 50%) and work up to a faster rate of speed through a predetermined number of loops (say 10-15) and try to keep up. Before and after, I play the piece and see what it sounds like and whether there is any improvement.

I typically only use this method on songs with sections that I find particularly difficult. The key is to be able to hear enough of your violin to get immediate feedback relative to the recording without overwhelming the recording.

I start using the "beginner" method using the Suzuki books (the cd's of which, I have loaded into iTunes) with William Preucil playing the violin part. As I develop proficiency, I "graduate" to doing the same parts at higher rates of speed playing along with the piano part only.

The free app works fine, but there are a limited number of times you can use it to mark segments of songs before it forces you to upgrade. At $19.99, Anytune Pro+ is a little on the spendy as iPhone apps go, but well worth the price, and the free Anytune app is well worth downloading and trying to see if it is something that you find helpful.

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Violin art

March 14, 2013 07:54

Fun with photoshop...

My Vuillaume a Paris Violin

HH Concertgebouw

4 replies

Hilary Hahn's Live Performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto

March 12, 2013 12:59

Many thanks to HH and Delmer Williams for pointing out that Hilary Hahn's performance of Korngold's violin concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam would be available via the internet on a Live Stream. I watched and listened during lunch.

What I heard up until they ran out of bandwidth -- basically the first 15-20 minutes -- was sublime.

UPDATE: If you don't get a chance to catch the archived copy, she has some versions of the Korngold Concerto and a wonderful discussion of it up on YouTube. Her performances are the best of the masters who have recorded performances of this spectacular modern(ish) concerto( Heifetz and Mutter -- also do excellent versions).

Hahn was magnificent, as was the DSO. The concerto plus the encore run about 30 minutes. The concert actually starts at around the 12 or 13 minute mark.

As the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which is blogging its European Tour, notes, Hahn was a show stopper:

Hilary Hahn, the featured soloist on the tour, mesmerized in the Korngold Violin Concerto, and after received a standing ovation and not one but four curtain calls, performed Gigue from the E Major Partita by Bach as an encore.

It's true. The audience did not want her to leave and after 4 curtain calls, she left them wanting more. I really appreciate coming to the violin at a time when these kinds of concerts can be viewed live, saved, and redistributed publicly. And I am glad that forward thinking organizations like Concertgebouw, BBC, and others have invested the resources to make concerts like this available to the public -- albeit, often for only 24 hours.

3 replies

Product review: Muse Score - free music scoring and composition software

March 11, 2013 22:00

Many thanks to Anne-Marie Proulx for making me aware of Muse Score, which is a free music composition and scoring app available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are templates for different types of performance pieces, or you can create your own from scratch.

You add or remove instruments, articulations, ornaments, etc. through a windows and wizards-based interface. The app is more clunky than word, and built on top of the Qt widget set, which is geek-talk for saying that the interface may not be terribly intuitive for windows users. On the plus side, the app is totally free, meaning that it is a full version, there is no cost to download and, a big plus for me, no advertising and distributed with a Creative Commons license.

Might be a good choice for a student, hobbyist, or professional working on a tight budget.

Author's note: I am not affiliated in any way with the makers of this software. :)

4 replies

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