February 2015

[Column] My new old German violin and it’s story

February 28, 2015 00:59

 This week I would like to share a personal story with you, as this week’s video is the first I made with my new old German violin.

Sometimes you don’t find an instrument, but an instrument finds you and this was the case for me.

mijn viool oude staatA man came into my violin shop with his granddad’s violin. His granddad played in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

his entire life during the first half of the 20th century. It was a German violin from 1840. The instrument had not been played on for almost half a century.

When he brought in the instrument, I was enthousiastic about the sound after it’s 50 years of silence, but I wasn’t really looking for a new violin and I was completely out of money anyway.

Three years the violin has been in my shop... clients liked it, but nobody bought it. I didn’t really understand why as it was and is so beautiful. The violin just remained there. I had some money issues in those years: I worked 7 days a week, but could hardly pay my bills. I didn’t even think about buying this violin... I didn’t think about buying anything actually. I was just trying to survive. Dark days.

A couple of months ago I just started playing the violin... I didn’t know why... I think because it had to be silent for decades, so I might bring some life to it. Every day the sound opened up and became more beautiful.

Exactly in the week I played on this violin my shop was so busy and people bought so many expensive (and beautiful!) stuff. Besides that lots of students enrolled in my violin studio. I think I didn’t make so much money in one week before. It was crazy... suddenly I could pay my bills again and had something extra.

I pulled money from everywhere, but it was hardly enough to pay for the violin. I just counted everything I got and could get and did a bid on the violin... way lower than what it was worth according to the luthier’s valuation.

The bid got accepted! The owner just wanted it to be in a good place. The violin was mine! I was so happy!

mijn viool nieuwe staatI went to a luthier and had it repaired. In this article you can see the before and after picture.

I enjoy the sound so much. It was an impulse purchase and I didn’t even really compare it to other violins. That wasn’t necessary...

I knew this violin was for me, the violin knew it was for me, the owner knew it and the Universe made it possible.

I hope this story inspires you and beautiful things like this will happen to you too. I hope to make more stories like this possible by selling beautiful violin and viola’s worldwide.

Archive link

A Parent's Guide for Violin or Viola Playing Children

February 25, 2015 01:54

You might be watching Violin Lounge TV not because you play the violin or viola yourself, but because your child is a young violinist or violist.

You have a very important task as a parent.

In this episode I give you some advice what you as a parent can do to maximize your child’s results and motivation in the violin or viola lesson.

Tip 1: Be there in the lesson and listen.

In my teaching studio I have experienced that the students whose parents are very involved and interested get better results. Some parents walk away as soon as the lesson starts and pick up their child later. They don’t know what is going on and are not able to guide their child in practicing.

You can support your child in a great way by taking that half an hour and beging present in the lesson. Your child will get more from the lesson.

However, never interfere in the lesson. That absolutely doesn’t help and disturbs the teaching process. Let the teacher do his/her job. You don’t know everything the teacher has in his/her lesson plan. In the violin lesson there is a lot more going on than you see at first sight.

Tip 2: Realize that your role is vital for your child’s progress on the violin or viola.

Children are not capable to do their homework independently. It’s difficult to learn to play the violin or viola and the journey is very long. Your child is too young to do it all by themselves. Your help and support means a lot to them.

Ideally take some violin lessons yourself, so you know some basics and know how it’s like and how it feels. In this way you can sometimes correct your child... however don’t overdo it.

Tip 3: Guide your child while practicing.

You know how it is to study. A child might sometimes just fool around and ignore the homework. You can give some guidance.

Tip 4: Realize children can’t plan! 

Yup, their brains are simply not capable to plan just yet. It’s your responsibility to take care that your child practices daily. Don’t blame the teacher or your child when he/she practices too little. This one is really your job.

Tip 5: There is a lot more going on in the lesson than you see at first sight.

Talk to the teacher once in a while about your child’s progress. The teacher can tell you about the goals, struggles and bigger plan. When you understand the bigger plan, you can guide your child better in practicing.

Tip 6: Don’t give up quickly.

It takes many years of practicing and lessons to have the basics solid. The journey is fun, but it’s a long term thing. You can’t try out playing the violin or viola just a couple of lessons. It takes years before you actually really know what it is like. Keep your child motivated for at least a year... that’s giving the violin or viola a fair chance.

Your role is very important. There has to be a triangle between the teacher, the student and the parent to make the student succeed. 

I hope this video helps you fulfilling your role as a violin or viola parent.

Please share this video with as many parents with violin or viola playing children you know.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

Archive link

When Does Your Pinky Leave the Bow?

February 19, 2015 01:22

You might hear all the time that your pinky should remain on the bow all the time... nicely curved.

However... when you look at performers playing, you see the bow hold changing in every bow stroke and you see them playing with the pinky off the bow.

In this video I would like to clarify a couple of things about if the pinky should be on the bow and when not.

First you need to know what function your pinky has in bowing and when you need it and when you don’t. Sometimes your pinky can even get in the way of smooth bowing.

You need your pinky when you play at the frog to smoothen your bow changes.

At the extreme tip you might want to lift your pinky a little bit, because you don’t really need it at that point. Some people can’t even bow straight to the extreme tip with their pinky on the bow. Choose to lift your pinky instead of bowing skew.

In saltando you use the natural jump of your bow and you don’t want your bow hand to get in the way of this natural movement. Lifting your pinky can make the bow jump more naturally.

I hope you now understand that your bow hold is not a rigid thing, but a constant motion. Whether you have your pinky on the bow depends on the music you play and the function the pinky has in this.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

Archive link

How to Read in the Viola Clef (for Violinists)

February 12, 2015 02:47

Are you a violinist and would you like to play the viola? Do you struggle with reading in the viola clef?

In this video I explain all about reading in the viola clef.

Sheet music for the violin and the viola is written in a different clef. The violin uses the G-clef and the viola uses the C-clef.

The viola clef indicates the C on the spot where you (as a violinist) are used to find the B. You might be thinking: everything I read is one note higher. It’s actually seven notes lower.

The A string on the violin and viola are the same pitch. When you read the open A string in the viola clef, it looks like a G (second finger on the E string) on the violin.

The C that is indicated by the C-clef is the C you usually play with the third finger on the G string.

The C string is the only viola string we don’t have on the violin. It’s lower than the G string. When you see the open C string in the viola clef... it looks like the B you usually play with the second finger on the G string. When you would like to write this down in the G-clef, there would be a lot of help lines.

Would you like to start playing the viola and get used to reading in the viola key? I recommend getting a beginner book for the viola, even when you have a more advanced level on the violin. In this way you get used to reading in the clef step by step.

You can buy the book I show you in the video right here, but you can also use other method books.

Make solid connections between the note name, how the note looks like, where the note can be found on your instrument and how the note sounds. This gives you a good foundation to reading in different clefs.

Don’t use ‘shortcuts’ like reading the viola clef like you read the third position in the violin clef. You will be confused when there are a lot of sharps and flats and you can start over.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

3 replies

How to Hold Your Bow when Playing with Weight

February 5, 2015 11:19

In this video I will explain how to combine the principles of ‘Weight vs Pressure’ with your bow hold. This video is an answer to a question from viewer Marisa.

Hi There,
Could you please post a video on "bow grip" and "weight vs. pressure" combined?  There are YouTube videos that talk about bow grip and then there are videos that talk about what the difference between weight and pressure is. However, there are no videos that thoroughly explain how these two things come into play together and how it's supposed to look and feel in the bow hand.

When I play a fast and loud piece, I tend to spread my pointer finger much farther away from the rest of my fingers like an extreme German bow grip. I feel like my pointer finger is getting all of the pressure and I can see that my finger is red and irritated in one spot after playing these pieces. I have read up on the topic, watched countless amounts of videos, and asked just about every string player I know how to fix this issue. I understand how to hold the bow properly (and I can see that what I am doing to achieve volume is not correct) and I understand how to use the weight of my arm. However, I am not executing it correctly.

My problem is that all of my right arm weight is transferring to my pointer finger only. Is this normal? If not, how can I feel the weight in all of my fingers? Are my middle and ring fingers supposed to be engaged somehow? If so, how? What do you feel in your right hand when you play? Thank you :)


In the video I show you the difference between Weight and Pressure first. If you want to know more about this subject, please join my FREE workshop ‘Weight vs Pressure’ to learn all about it. When you are new to Weight vs Pressure, you might want to do the workshop first and then get back to this video.

When you are playing with pressure, you push your arm into the bow. Your wrist and elbow are higher than your bow hand. In this way you choke the tone. It sounds loud, but it doesn’t sound nice. Your bow hold will look more like the Russian bow hold instead of the Franco-Belgian bow hold.

When you are playing with weight, you hang on the bow with your hand. Your knuckles, wrist and elbow are relatively low. Your knuckles are the highest point. Make sure you tilt your hand a bit, like you turn a key to the left, so you can transfer the weight of your arm into the string via the bow. You can release the tone in this way. It sounds free, full and open.

The weight is transferred through your index finger into the bow. This is normal.

Marisa says she plays in a German bow hold, in which you hold your fingers together and perhaps your index finger a bit in the direction of the tip of the bow. When you keep your fingers together, transferring weight or pressure (whatever you are using) can be difficult.

Playing with weight can take quite some practice. It can be hard to maintain it all the time, for example when you are playing with the whole bow or when you are playing fast notes.

Lots of people do too much and don’t get the flexibility and relaxation that is necessary to play with weight. 

Your bow should feel like an extension of your index finger. You should lean on your index finger. To be able to transfer the weight through your index finger, your index finger should be place a bit (not too much) in the direction of the tip. Don’t overdo any of it.

It’s not exact science. If you look at 10 different violinists, you will see that they all hold their bows slightly different. It depends on the way you play, the way you want to sound and the way your hand is formed.

You can find your own way too while keeping into account the principles I talked about in this video. 

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

2 replies

More entries: January 2015

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine