November 2012

Violin Stretches

November 19, 2012 13:07

'Tis the season for many rehearsals and concerts and many hours of practicing. It is very easy to develop overwork injuries so don't forget to take breaks and stretch. The cold weather encourages those muscles to tighten up so stay warm, dress warm and stretch. Take care of your body because you need that body in great shape to get through the season. Stretches are also good for mental health. Take time to breathe through the stretches and center yourself. Enjoy the video and Happy Holidays:)

Happy Stretching!!!

Heather Broadbent

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The Blue Danube

November 11, 2012 11:43

A few days ago, The Blue Danube spoke to me, literally. I was unpacking from my move here to Utah and showed my mom a miniature violin that I had in a miniature case. She asked me if it played The Blue Danube. I replied no it isn't musical - then I picked it up and looked underneath and low and behold it was musical. I turned the key and out came music box music The Blue Danube. I asked my mom how she knew and she said she saw the lable on the bottom of the case. Later that same day I received an adorable computer card from my mom, one she had sent before she saw the miniature violin. It was a little bear orchestra mimicking the Vienna philharmonic playing The Blue Danube. Then that night my mom and I were watching Frasier, the episode with the book that came out about his love affair with his piano teacher - hilarious episode. Anyway he goes to his former piano teacher's house and her mother was playing the piano and guess what she was playing - The Blue Danube. So after, three times in one day, it was definitely a message to me from The Blue Danube.

Because of my love for the violin, I have been very fortunate to travel to many beautiful places and The Blue Danube is one of them. In September of 2011, I played a festival with the Gabrovo Chamber Orchestra in Bulgaria. Before the festival started, I had a friend invite me for a weekend with his friends on the Danube. Of course I said yes. The Danube. I knew the Danube through music, Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz, which I played many times in an orchestra. Thinking back, I remember playing it for the first time on piano probably when I was seven years old. My mom always listened to classical music so I am sure I heard it many times in my youth. So here I was able to actually go to the Danube. My friend and I picked up another couple and we drove and drove and drove. I understood very little Bulgarian and spoke even less. My friends spoke very little English. I had no idea how long the drive was going to be or even which direction we were going. We left after their work so around 5:00. It got very, very, very dark and we were still driving. Finally we came to a small city and a car zipped out of the darkness. We followed the car to a very narrow, very bumpy road - actually road is a little more definitive than what this was - it was more of a dirt path. Finally we arrived at a bungalow with a table covered with food and surrounded by people. I had an amazing dinner with great people and friends right along the Danube. Couldn't see the river because it was midnight but the next day - what a sight. I was on the Bulgarian side in the city of Lom and the other side of the river was Romania. I swam in the river while my friends fished for dinner. It was beautiful. One of the most amazing weekends in my life. When the sun sets over the Danube every particle of the river sparkles. I swam in the beam of light on the river from the setting sun. I felt a part of the setting sun, the river and the nature with the knowledge in my mind this is the amazing river I know about because of music. Incredible. That night my friends and I ate the fresh fish that were caught just hours before. The fish was so delicious - it melted in your mouth.

Here is an excellent video of the Vienna Philharmonic playing The Blue Danube. The pictures of the river with the music demonstrates how descriptive the music really is. When the first violins have their harmonic eighth note passage it is as if you hear the flow of the river.

This is a Bulgarian Patriot Hymn for the Danube. Translation of the title is Quiet, White Danube.

Our lives are very much like the flow of a river.  The cities and possibly countries that the river flows through are the different chapters of our lives. Our lives,  have to be in constant flow like the river - sometimes it may be faster than others and sometimes it may get stuck in a little eddy but eventually it will flow again and take us to more amazing adventures.

Happy Practicing!!!

Heather Broadbent

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My Forgotten Violin Stories - feel free to share yours:)

November 4, 2012 19:38

My first unforgettable forgettable incident can be a forgiveable one. I was in fourth grade and had just started the violin. If you have read my other blog posts about me you know that I was dying to start the violin since the age of three but my parents didn't know where I can start the violin so young so they started me on piano. I am sure you can imagine by the time I was nine I was chomping at the bit to start violin through the public school system. I clearly remember my first rented violin, the case, the rosin and the smell of the violin varnish. It was my prized possession so I know you can also understand the devestation that I experienced when I left my violin on the bus one day after school. I am sure I had to have had a bad day at school or I was just in a hurry to get off the bus (I didn't like my bus at all) whatever the reason it was completely forgotten about when I came home and realized I didn't have my violin. My parents called the bus station and that night my dad and I took a trip to the bus station to retrieve the violin. I was a nervous little wreck:( So I would say that was a forgiveable incident. I was young - who can be so hard on a very sensitive nine year old girl.

The next unforgettable forgettable incident occurred in Bulgaria. I was staying with my Bulgarian family and the day of my departure I get in the taxi with my good colleague and friend Kamen Petkov and as we start on our way I turn to him and say the dreaded words "I forgot my violin." This was no problem at all - we just go back to the house, we weren't that far away, and Kamen tells his father who then goes into the house and retrieves the violin. I will never forget how proud he was walking out of the house with the violin on his shoulder:) I personally could not go into the house to get the violin because it is Bulgarian departure tradition to pour water in the path of the guest who is leaving for safe travels. Once you have walked over this water you can not return to the house until your next visit or it is bad luck.

My final (hopefully the final) unforgettable forgettable incident, I was travelling by train to Springfield, Illinois to play with the Illinois Symphony. This was shortly after I acquired my new light Bam case. I put the violin on the overhead in the train. I get off at my stop in Springfield and use the bathroom at the train station. I realize that I left my violin on the train. I was sweating bullets this time. There is no stopping a train. I go to the window at the train station and tell them what happened. The man was very nonchalant and took his time to try and find the phone numbers of a conductor. It took him forever. I was seriously ready to be ill. I tried to explain to him how important this was and he told me they retrieve every forgotten item - dentures, prosthetics, etc. For some reason this was not reassuring to me in the least. Finally he was able to get a hold of someone and arranged for the violin to be transferred at the next stop to the train heading north back to Springfield. I made it to rehearsal and used Kamen Petkov's violin. That rehearsal we were rehearsing John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine. All I could hear throughout the rehearsal of the Adams was the sound of a train going down the tracks with my violin and without me. Luckily the violin exchange between conductors occurred flawlessly at the next stop and I was able to get my violin back in time for the second rehearsal of the day. I was about ready to hug the man who returned the violin to me. I have no desire to ever live that moment or any other moment resembling that moment ever again.
Now whenever I travel on the train I always leave the strap hanging over the edge of the overhead in constant view:)
Happy Practicing!!!

Heather Broadbent

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