Great smile and being a violinist

August 12, 2007 at 05:27 AM · I’ve never seen a violinist doesn’t have a great smile so I’m prepared to make a sweeping claim: all violinists have great smile. I’ve got a theory for this, but I’m not telling. What do you guys think?

:) yixi :)

Replies (26)

August 12, 2007 at 05:33 AM · :D

Many thanks to Dr. Arthur Margolis, my orthodontist.

August 12, 2007 at 07:06 AM · The smile is an involuntary reflex,uncontrollable by a violin player when they are beholding and holding a sculptured conglomerate of spruce and maple wood hopefully hand crafted by an artisan of esteem.

If the sound produced through the practice and ability of the player is deemed appropriate and more so by most within hearing distance then there is one response--a smile to start a sequence of further responses,to end them and to remember them in future.

Sincerity is truth [hopefully] and true beauty necessarily evokes a smile :)

August 12, 2007 at 10:55 AM · Really? Hmm...I often have thought that violinists make more interesting expressions, at least while they're playing--grimaces, involuntary funny faces, the stare of concentration--than a smile. I'm not saying this as a criticism of violinists; I get tired of the emphasis placed on smiling in American culture.


August 12, 2007 at 12:39 PM · Interesting question, I don't think the importance of a nice smile can ever be under-estimated - whether it is in music-making or normal life, which is why I'm going to be spending some time in the orthodontist's chair over the next 18 months or so, (had brace as a teenager but wasn't fitted with retainers, so now need work done all over again )

A smile is an important part of that vital communication between player and audience. I remember one concert with Gil Shaham and he beamed at us all during one particularly beautiful section - the audience just melted, smiled back and were totally in his hands. We were sharing in his enjoyment of the music...

August 12, 2007 at 03:13 PM · I don't know...I pretty much hate my smile. Especially in photos, where it makes me resemble a chipmunk. Which is probably why the shots I use all have me looking a bit severe.

August 12, 2007 at 03:16 PM · I'm too shy to look to see if I'm smiling. Though last night, I did cojoin with the Marie Nesbitt spirit for a few minutes when I was hitting on several cylinders in a legato induced peak experience. And I said, 'stop moving *#$ it'.

After finally getting my acceptable body parts warmed up, I started getting Sarah McGlothlin's "In the Arms of the Angels" singing soooooo sweetly and heard her voice coming through on the strings. Yes, I'm certain I smiled now. Very much so.

She does it in a-flat, and I temporarily moved it up to sharps until I get able to do it justice with a single note in mind (a-flat) on G. And when I pulled back on the vibrato, went for her wispish lightly coming off the string note endings I started feeling my knees bending, and body swaying. Indeed when I started getting a verse singing in 3rd/5th I not only smiled but sort of shook I think.

This is why violin is so passionate and why the music should lead the way. It will crush the soul with purity of spiritual truth that creates the emotions. We do not have to think about them I think. Being an old-schooler, I posit that they do not even belong to us really, on that level.

Now, if I could just stand still when that, something, takes over.

I remain,

Mr. Legatomeister

August 12, 2007 at 04:14 PM · The smile is good. The wink and the nod is better.

August 12, 2007 at 04:29 PM · Jim, I’m not sure about wink. The last time a judge winked at me, my client lost her wrongful dismissal case. A colleague of mine at that time told me that the same judge winked at him last time, his client was sent to jail for 5 years! I’m not practicing now thank goodness but winks sometime scare me;)

August 12, 2007 at 04:32 PM · Aww, come on Emil, I saw your cute smile (the one you looked at your bride) and your wife sure has a great one. I hope she is a violinist!

August 12, 2007 at 04:59 PM · funny i cant seem to recall even one photo of heifetz smiling

August 12, 2007 at 05:15 PM · I look really stupid when I smile--it makes my cheeks look fat. My eyes are my strong point.

Is there any historical record of Joseph Joachim ever smiling?

August 12, 2007 at 05:44 PM · "Is there any historical record of Joseph Joachim ever smiling? "

Yes there is. I can vouch that no one ever went through life without smiling at least once.

But seriously, prior to about WWII people didn't smile in photos. They usually look dead serious. Interesting phenomenon.

August 12, 2007 at 05:49 PM · Scott, if you look at the Heifetz in Performance DVD, you’ll see he did smile and it's wicked when he did it.

Maura, if you ask someone whom you smiled at after you had played something, you may get a different answer about your smile than you own.

Jim, I'd go further, a non-smiling violinist is inconceivable, regardless what pictures we get!

August 12, 2007 at 06:26 PM · From the time he was a young man, Heifetz didn't like to smile on stage. He did once tell a colleague "violinists should always be happy".

-Jascha, are you always happy?

-[side stepping the question] A violinist should be happy because he's playing well. If he isn't, he should be happy because it will soon be over!

August 12, 2007 at 07:43 PM · :D

That solves half of the puzzle, or does it?

August 12, 2007 at 10:12 PM · Also, Heifetz was introverted, so he was more likely to smile around friends than in public. I just checked, there are plenty of pictures of Heifetz smiling in the two recent books by his students.

August 13, 2007 at 12:18 AM · Yixi: These posts do not solve the question you posed.

Can't wait for you to reveal your theory in this regard.......

August 13, 2007 at 12:21 AM · is half of the puzzle solved ?

August 13, 2007 at 02:55 AM · Joe, what is so great about a great smile? Is it the teeth? The eyes? The mouth? The pretty face? What has it to do with conventional good-look of one’s face?

What is a beaming smile? What is a melting smile? What is a heart-felt goofy smile? Why is a smile so beautiful when one gives it to a little child or to a lover? Doesn’t a fake smile remind one a squeezed sound or a note out of tune?

August 13, 2007 at 01:01 PM · Violinists smile?

August 14, 2007 at 03:09 AM · You don't?!?!!

August 14, 2007 at 08:43 AM · But I'm kinda of the opinion that all genuine smiles are great.

August 14, 2007 at 02:35 PM · Indeed!

August 14, 2007 at 02:33 PM · Maxim Vengerov has a great smile... ;-)

August 14, 2007 at 03:23 PM · Off-hand, I'd say that my favorite violinist smile belongs to Anne Sophie Mutter.

August 14, 2007 at 08:45 PM · Yixi: This is a fun posting!

My favorite smile has always been Zino Francescatti.

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