Presenting a New Look for

December 3, 2015, 7:59 PM · You may have noticed a few changes here at!

That's because we've just implemented a design change that has been several months in the making. In general, our aim is to make the site as user-friendly as possible, to allow people to explore interests, ask questions, share expertise and converse with one another. Here is a summary of the changes we've made. As with any new design, we are still putting on the finishing touches and working out the bugs. We welcome your input, whether you notice an error, have suggestions, or even if you just want to pay us a compliment! The new design is cleaner, with more white space, and we've reduced the number of navigation options from eight to four, in an effort to streamline and simplify things for the reader.

koko explains

Here is an explanation of the navigation:

NEWS and ADVICE: This is where you will now find all the blogs and interviews. We have re-categorized all blogs into the following topics:

When you click to the NEWS and ADVICE page, you will see the latest blog in each category. If you click on the category, you'll go to a page that lists all the blogs in that category, from the latest one, back through time. Be sure to check out the INTERVIEWS page -- it is much more robust than the old one, and has a lot more photos! NOTE: We are still in the process of re-categorizing old blogs, so the number of blogs in those sections will grow over time as we sort out blogs as far back as 2005!

At the bottom of the NEWS and ADVICE page are blog entries from our readers. NOTE: If you wish for your blog to be promoted and catalogued as NEWS, TECHNIQUE, etc., it must fall into one of those categories, be well-written, it must be useful and appealing to a general audience, it must not contain extraneous formatting, and it must have a photo or graphic (in general, no memes or logos) that is 560 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. If you would like to blog but are unsure if your topic is okay, or not sure how to post a photo, not sure how to create a link, etc., email me and I will be happy to help you. That's why I'm the editor!

DISCUSSION: At the heart of is our discussion board, where members can exchange advice, argue over shoulder rests, write haikus, etc. To participate in the discussion board, you must be a registered member of (If you aren't yet a member, I encourage you to use this page to register.) We encourage people to stand by what they say and use their real names in registering. If you are already a member, think about posting a picture! We now display readers' photos with responses, to create a more personal atmosphere. The discussion board looks quite different now, and it functions more easily, especially on cell phones!

DIRECTORIES: This page is designed to help connect teachers and performers with those who would like to use their services. To be listed in one or both directory, you must register as a member of, and during that registration process you must select that you would like to be listed in one or both of the directories. NOTE: If you are already registered, you may still need to "opt in" to the directories by editing your personal profile. (Log in, click on your name in the upper left corner, then edit.) For that directory listing to remain "live," you must visit at least once a month. This requirement is to ensure that our listings are up-to-date and that they represent active members of the site. (The easiest way to remind yourself to come to the site at least once a month is to sign up for our weekly e-mail, which we keep friendly and non-spammy.)

NOTE: In the coming months we will premiere one more directory on this page: we plan to re-introduce our Luthier Directory, which we dropped several years ago. Because the Luthier Directory is a business directory, those who wish to be listed in this directory will be charged a one-time setup fee, then they will be responsible for keeping their listing up-to-date after the initial setup.

SHOPS and SERVICES: These are the businesses that support Please support them! If you wish to become a sponsor of, please see our advertising page. We now are offering a new "Premium Link" option on all of our content pages, in addition to the Shops and Services directory, front page announcements, and banner ads that we offer to help sponsors communicate with the community.

Thank you for being part of the community and we look forward to a great year ahead!


December 4, 2015 at 03:05 AM · I like it!

December 4, 2015 at 05:10 AM · Nice job, Laurie!!

December 4, 2015 at 10:43 AM · Looks great !

December 4, 2015 at 02:42 PM · I like the clean, fresh look, and I'm glad the kokopelli is still here, playing his violin!

Where can I find the blogs of particular bloggers who I've followed for a long time and would like to keep following? And how can I find and connect with members who aren't professional performers or teachers?

December 4, 2015 at 03:43 PM · Thanks for your feedback, everyone!

Karen, you can still find all blogs when you click on "News and Advice," and they are still in reverse chronological order (latest blogs showing). The change is that they are in categories, so that you'll see the latest blog in each category. When you click on the category, then all those are also in reverse chronological order, so you'll see the latest blogs first. If you are looking for a particular person's blog, then you can use the search function at the top of every page and search his/her name.

As for finding people to connect with to talk about the violin, it's the same as always, you can find people on the discussion board or through their blogs. You can start a discussion with the express purpose of finding people who share particular interests, if you wish!

December 4, 2015 at 03:44 PM · The instructions for blogs now include, 'it (the blog) must have a photo or graphic ... that is 560 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall'. Does this mean that a photo/graphic is compulsory(!) in a blog, or does it refer to the required pixel dimensions if the photo/graphic is present?

Apart from that little query, I like the new layout. - Trevor Jennings

December 4, 2015 at 03:49 PM · Hi Trevor,

It's only compulsory if it's going to be promoted into one of the categories that are at the top of the News and Advice page; other blogs will still be available at the bottom of the page. I often help people with photos and graphics, sometimes I even put them in for people, and I'm happy to do that. If it's already there, though, and it's a good blog, that makes the decision easier for me!

December 4, 2015 at 04:44 PM · I like the look of it -- especially the increased whiteness of the pages -- easy to navigate, too.

Laurie, does a blog photo have to be violin-related or music-related? Or can it be, let's say, an outdoor landscape? I have hundreds of those -- not yet digitized.

Regarding graphics: Does a plain-colored 560 x 315 frame with a short excerpt of text from the blog count as a graphic? I sometimes use these in lieu of photos on my LinkedIn postings -- also on my own blog. Thanks.

December 4, 2015 at 06:36 PM · Well, I think it is a bit sterile looking. I like the old purple...

But that won't stop me from visiting, of course.

December 4, 2015 at 06:52 PM · I can believe that the discussion forum is better on cell phones, but I miss the creator of the thread and the short summary. If you want to know what a thread is about, you almost have to click on it now, because the title is often not very descriptive. This means a lot of extra clicks and going back. The short summary was a really cool and unique feature of this website.

It should be no fundamental problem to show creator and short summary on larger screens and just the titles on a cell phone.

December 4, 2015 at 07:07 PM · Jim, the graphic should be related to the blog, ideally. That said, if a landscape is relevant to the blog, then that would be lovely! And it's okay to re-use images, especially if you are doing, say, a three-part series on one particular topic. No branding in the images, though.

Jean, thank you for the feedback about the discussion board. Robert and I will discuss!

Anne, the old purple (from two designs ago, I think you mean!) was lovely. But our aim with the white space is to make things a bit cleaner and easier to see.

December 4, 2015 at 08:35 PM · I wish we could see the name of the author on the Members Blogs page, and maybe their profile picture too, in addition to just the title of the blog. That page could use a little something.

December 4, 2015 at 09:24 PM · What about a member's directory? I seem to remember that we had one, but maybe I'm in error... Even more important - I can't find a way to email another member. Before you had a nice anono-mized system that only shared email addresses if you replied. Is that coming back? Its going to be frustrating if we have to talk to people solely through the discussion topic.

Us amateurs like to remain connected too ;)

December 4, 2015 at 09:33 PM · And I agree with Karen - the blogs have been depersonalized. This takes away a lot because, just as for an editorial page, there are people who's writing I like to follow, because they write well, are particularly knowledgeable or simply because I know them. Now selection reduced solely to a one-liner. Also, the blogs seem to have lost their import: before when you wrote a blog it was like having an article published, now its more like sidelines...

Not sure I like the split into categories either. First, the most interesting blogs often broach multiple subjects and do not fit into the neat sections. Before it was easy for me to see which blogs I had not looked at just by going back to the last one I recognized.

I do like the white background and reduced clutter though.

December 4, 2015 at 10:51 PM · is my favorite site to hangout with and 99% of the time it is on my little smartphone. I did prefer the old format much better and I guess that I must be part Luddite as I have almost always disliked change.

December 5, 2015 at 02:11 AM · Thanks, everyone, for your feedback!

We do want to put the focus on the topics at hand, and I think this design does that while still making it very clear who has written each blog, discussion and comment. Also, you'll notice that the pictures on everyone's profile pages are larger (upload a larger one if your picture is not big enough!)

We are no longer relaying messages via personal e-mail. If it is important for people to contact you through the site, as in if you are in the teacher or professional directory, or even if you just want to make your information available, make sure to put your contact information in "about me" section of your bio page. It can be your e-mail address, your FB page, personal website, Twitter account or any other way to contact you that you want displayed publicly.

We're certainly still publishing blogs, but we hope this makes our expectations clearer, about what kind of content we wish to grow on Our aim is to encourage excellence in violin playing and instruction, as well as the cultivation of musical communities. We want to promote best practices in technique and pedagogy, showcase the world's outstanding violinists, offer standards for music curricula, and provide instruction in musical entrepreneurship. We hope this will be helpful for students, teachers, performers, amateurs and other supporters of music.

December 6, 2015 at 06:37 AM · I think it's great that you're spelling out the expectations for the featured blogs. But I still think that the Other Blogs page could use a little something to make it clearer who is posting what, and what it's all about. The blog page used to be the page I read the most on the entire site. I can't speak for anyone else, but I read it more for author than for topic. Many times I learned something completely unexpected from an author I liked.

December 6, 2015 at 09:08 AM · Just another note, in the discussion list, the thread author is missing. It is useful information to be had.

December 6, 2015 at 10:23 PM · Hi Laurie - The site looks clean & easy to read. It will serve purposes well.

December 7, 2015 at 02:10 AM · I made these comments in another form, but will repeat here.

Losing the originator of the discussion items on the open page is HUGE--there are certain people here whose posts I make it a point not to read (and others I wouldn't miss for anything). Having to open each is not something I want to have to do.

The mini-summaries were (very) helpful but I suppose their absence may help encourage posters to be more helpful in their titles.

You run a great website, Laurie and Robert; the changes (mostly) make sense. Cheers.

December 7, 2015 at 03:11 AM · Thanks for your comments and for your bug reports, everyone! Robert has fixed a few bugs: the search function wasn't working in certain versions of Firefox, that should be okay now. Also, we fixed the bug where you couldn't respond on certain discussions that were more than 30 days old; now you should be able to respond to any discussions that have not yet hit 100 responses.

Please let us know if you find any other bugs. Our number-one priority is to fix those problems. Beyond that, we are happy for your feedback, as we are always looking for ways to improve the site.

In the new design, we've given additional prominence to the authors of blogs, discussions and comments, though the addition of author photos next to the words. If you have not uploaded a photo yet, please click on your name to go to your profile page, then click on the gray default photo to upload your own photo. (Note that photos should be square.)

December 7, 2015 at 04:41 PM · Laurie, two follow-up questions regarding images:

1. Some authors have embedded videos -- e.g., YouTube -- in blogs and discussion posts. Does a screen capture from the video count as a photo?

2. Not quite sure yet what branding in images refers to -- I have an idea, but …? Does this refer to having one's own logo or some kind of lettering superimposed on the image? Sorry -- I'm a little behind the curve on this item.

December 8, 2015 at 05:24 PM · Jim, I still need another image, even if there is a youtube video embedded. It can be a screenshot from that video, but it needs to have an image that will serve as its image on the News and Advice page. Okay to send that directly to me, if needed.

As for branding: the image, which could be a photo or a graphic, should relate to the blog. It shouldn't have logos or be a promotion for the person writing the blog. I'm not crazy about it having words, unless there is a really good reason. Also, memes should be pretty rare. It was cute in the sourpuss story, which was humorous, but they should be pretty infrequent.

December 8, 2015 at 08:17 PM · Laurie, thanks -- this helps clear things up. Definitely no branding in any images I have. I know how to do screenshots -- captions, too. Are captions an acceptable way to credit the source, e.g., with the URL, or do we need to contact the YouTube uploader first? Hard to know who the original uploader is, since there is a lot of sharing and re-posting on YT.

December 8, 2015 at 08:43 PM · Captions work for crediting the source. Indeed, it is complicated sometimes to find the source, but we do our best. If the image is under copyright, one needs the permission of whomever owns the image; generally images that appear on artists' photo gallery pages are there with the idea that they can be used, but sometimes there are specific instructions about that. It's also nice to list the photographer, even better to hyperlink to the photographer's home page in that credit.

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