Value of teaching classical and other genres side by side

April 27, 2009 at 12:49 AM ·

I was wondering what you think about the idea that students should learn some other genres along with classical as a way of broadening their ability on the instrument and even creating opportunities to perform as a career.  So few  violinists will grow up to be professional classical violinists that I feel students benefit from learning other music while they are young or beginners. Also, I sometimes will ask my students to compose something of their own, giving guidelines.  By other styles I mean; bluegrass, celtic, folk, jazz, blues.

Replies (38)

April 27, 2009 at 02:39 AM ·

It depends whether you regard classical violin playing primarily as a business or primarily as an art.  If you regard it primarily as your art, then you appreciate that the demands of this art require total dedication to learning its traditions and to cultivating your taste.  In this case you would no more consider teaching other forms of violin playing along with it than would a teacher of painting consider teaching house painting, or a teacher of playwrighting consider teaching technical manual writing.  This is not because you look down on music other than classical music, it is rather because you appreciate what playing classical music with artistic ideals requires.

April 27, 2009 at 04:25 AM ·

hard to say, depends on the student I suppose, every style is different and jazz for example requires a different technique (less bow, more nuances , less powerful stroke, different approach to vibrato use)....

i've noticed good classical players have trouble with jazz because they learned early on to have a very powerful and rich sound on the violin which is something that isn't (most of the time anyway) desirable in jazz.

I 'm sure other genres like celtic fiddle have similar things going on...

Here's an interesting video where a celtic fiddler compares styles (classical and celtic)

April 27, 2009 at 05:47 AM ·

I think if you're teaching violin it's important for you to at least expose your students to as many styles as possible that way they can choose for themself what they like and dislike to play.

I have taught improvsation to students as young as 5 and they love it.  While they may grow up to be a devoute classicalist, at least they will have tried it.  There's nothing worse than a classically trained violinist with no groove =)

April 27, 2009 at 01:48 PM ·

I started teaching the String Explorer method series when it came out.  SE features a violin-oriented theory course that mirrors the music, and a whole bunch of violiny activities that include composition and improv, although usually in a general style and not a specific genre.  The kids have fun, and learn a lot.  This is how classical musicians used to be trained, and improv and composition were considered foundation skills.  That said, I don't teach "violin as career".  I teach "violin". 

You could justify teaching many different genres at once by claiming a long term financial benefit.  However, it seems to be the same thing as saying "Learn soccer, but learn baseball, tennis, hockey, and basketball too, because so few people become professional soccer players, you will broaden your ability as an athelete, and possibly make more money."

Teach a genre because you love it, play it well, and have something to share. 

April 27, 2009 at 02:03 PM ·

As a public school string teacher, I perceive my role as "music teacher using stringed instruments as primary vehicle for a general musical education." It wouldn't occur to me NOT to include music literacy, history, ethnic musics, how to play by ear & how to approach improv as well as conventional string-playing technique and well-known classical solo, ensemble & orchestra lit. Sue

April 27, 2009 at 02:11 PM ·

I don't do it.

I don't think I can do it with my own playing.

But I think it is  GREAT idea that will help students open more of their mental volume to working with their instruments and to appreciating all musical genres.


April 27, 2009 at 03:40 PM ·

I think it makes sense to expose students to different genres, not for financial/career reasons, but for enjoyment reasons.  I wish I had had more exposure to different genres when I was younger and in school.  

I think that in particular, a broader perspective might have helped me get over a tough teenage hump when I realized I didn't have the talent/drive/dedication to make a career out of classical music.  I asked my teacher for some recommendations of "popular music for the violin" that I could play, and he just kind of sniffed/laughed at that.  I understand now he may just not have felt comfortable playing and teaching in other genres, but back then, it hurt.  I spent a while just flailing around without focus, playing some standard repertoire poorly, getting discouraged, and losing interest.  Later, I found a teacher who was a better fit, and became motivated again.  

At some point, students will probably want to specialize, explore a particular genre in depth, and/or just not have time to devote to more than one genre.  But I think that point comes differently for different students, and in my opinion it's more important to keep them interested and engaged than to encourage specialization at a young age.  

April 27, 2009 at 06:34 PM ·

It seems to depend on the teacher and the method, perhaps.

I know my son went to a Suzuki Strings camp for 3-4 years and at the camp, they took classes in fiddling and jazz as well as the traditional Suzuki method classes.  I remember when my son was about 9 and his jazz teacher said he seemed to be a "natural" (whatever that meant) at improv/jazz.  Move to 6 years later and it does seem that he is able to easily improvise during the church worship service.  In fact, there a young woman in the church who's a beautifully trained classical violinist (trained by reputably the best teacher in town) and she said she wasn't sure she could improvise the way my son does (but she's willing to learn, so that's exciting).

OTOH, the time my son has spent in other styles (fiddle, celtic, jazz) definitely takes time away from his classical studies, so there has been a trade off in that he's not progressed as rapidly as others at his age/level.  His curent teacher isn't interested in anything but classical and I'm glad for that.  My son is able to learn and play on his own all the other styles but really needs the classical training. 

April 28, 2009 at 02:07 AM ·

I wish I had a better background in jazz.  I took a long hiatus, but returned to violin because of a desire to play jazz and/or rock.  I found that jazz is a completely different animal from classical.  It almost requires learning again from scratch, involving a totally different way of thinking about music. 

And there seems to be a huge gaping hole when it comes to jazz violin teachers.  The closest jazz teacher to me is over 1 hour away (I live in a major metropolitan area), and he's not even a violinist.  He plays sax, but teaches jazz to anybody on any instrument.  I guess you can sort of do that with jazz, but it would certainly help if the teacher could relate to violin specific issues such as fingerings, bowing techniques, etc.

Classical music is still my focus.  I belong to a string quartet as well as a piano trio.  But let's face it.  The vast majority of average, non-musical people would get a lot more enjoyment out of hearing a jazz or swing piece, than classical.  This is a performance I did at a company party a few months ago (the reason I got back into violin).

Can you imagine if I got up there and played the Mendelssohn violin concerto?  5% of the people might actually enjoy it and the other 95% would give me blank stares, especially those that were already on their 4th or 5th beer.

So to answer the original question: yes, absolutely, classical musicians should be given an exposure to other genres.  It always kills me when I am asked to join in a jam session and with all the years of playing violin, I have no clue how to go about it.  But I do know it is better to politely decline, than to ask for sheet music  :-)

April 28, 2009 at 05:01 AM ·


>But let's face it.  The vast majority of average, non-musical people would get a lot more enjoyment out of hearing a jazz or swing piece, than classical. 

Hi Smiley.  I utterly disagree with this absurdity although I`m doing it with a smile.  The problems with what you say are I think as follows:

1)  Most poeple are actually not average or non-musical.  Lack of formal training is not linked to musical appreciation or enjoyment.

2)  An awful lot of people simply do not enjoy jazz.  

3)  You are not specifying what kind of music.  If you mean sitting though a Bruckner symphony versus Grapelli playing some jazz that migh be true although the people who hate jaz zmmight well love the Bruckner although I supect they would hate both.    But   ,  just as an example,  I have played relatively short programs of light works in venues where ther eis no guarantee that the peopel have any interets in claasical music.  For example,   an end of year party for the manager sof a regional; bank.  I have never ha dany trouble holding peoples attention form the word go playing for example,   Blumnenlied,  the Swan, Humoresque,  Zigeunerweisen and a Mozart sonata.   Like wise our piano trio can bring the house down with the Beethoven c minor trio with just about anyone.  It just grabs you.  Or explain the massive popularity of the last movement of Beethoven nine to so many Japanese with no formal training. At the other extreme of talent Heifetz had absolutely no trouble in thrilling thousands of soldiers during the second world war .  Not the kind of poeple with an extnesiv eexposure to classical music.  he said you simply had to get their attention with somethign lighter and then get into more serious works.  I can honestly say that  most people do actually enjoy classicla music a great deal if it is done well and that pobably compares very favorably with othe rgenres.  How often does one hear the four seasons as background msuic in public places compared to jazz might be another rather crude example.   Or the amazing success of the Puccini Arias in non classicla venues a few years back.

Still cheerfully laughing,



April 28, 2009 at 05:39 AM ·

I liked  Olivers great analogy about painting houses. Brilliant. Here is 2 cents for you. In my observation, the discipline needed for classical study is astounding, even just to be reasonably competent let alone outstanding. There is also quite a bit of variety available within classical music to satisfy students who want a break from a seeming endless run on Vivaldi concertos. Different styles and periods demand different considerations and can break any boredom...the spice of life. As a part of theory/composition I don't see any harm in writing music if a child is so inclined and enjoys it. They can learn a lot from that process that can help them understand different forms. I know my son writes a lot of tunes based upon what he is working on in violin. After performing Pachabel's Canon for example they wrote a canon too because they loved how the Canon fits together so neatly. A musical puzzle of sorts for them to solve.

Even witih a lot of dedication, to move through all the things you need to learn means concentration becomes job 1. Otherwise you get spread too thin and I suspect could start going nowhere in a hurry. Even as they get faster at learning pieces there are many layers that are revealed as the student grows into an artist. In my opinion.It does not seem to be a process one should lurch through hopping around. When my kids moved from beginning to  intermediate pieces they needed to bring so much more to each practice and lesson that it was almost like recommiting to the violin anew. While a fun light non-classical, piece can be fine over the holidays, As a parent who has been to so many recitals I can't begin to count, I would not hire a teacher for our kids who was spread too far around. I notice the students of those types of teachers don't play very well in a lot of cases although they all seem to have a lot of fun.

April 28, 2009 at 11:32 AM ·

The analogy didn't do much for me.  I don't think it's fair or accurate to compare non-classical genres to painting houses or writing technical manuals.  I think a better analogy would be to compare classical music to Renaissance painting (Michelangelo, DaVinci) and jazz to Impressionism (Monet, VanGogh).  People have different tastes and may prefer one style over the other, but they are both art.

April 28, 2009 at 01:10 PM ·

[Do you think it is better to teach violin students different genres at a young age and even to compose their own pieces, as opposed to a classical education only?]

Yes, although to be honest this will be harder on the teacher than it is on the student. Wether the subjects are taught concurrently or consecutively is a choice to be made with some discretion. Even a partial experience will be better than no experience at all. I wish I'd had more of that as a student because it would have influenced me when I became a teacher and made the same "mistake" myself.

April 28, 2009 at 02:53 PM ·

Back in the 80's when I was a music major modern styles of music were prerequsite studies for associate level Music Lit. I didn't get that far, I struggled with music lit., I loved it! I learned a lot, just not enough fast enough. I believe C.C.S.U. at that time required a cross over study of a modern form of music? We learned about the past eras and genres, we needed to know where we are at and what direction music is going........ other than M-TV!  at that time. (I don't even think MTV has much music any more????? }:^I Hmmmm!)


April 28, 2009 at 10:08 PM ·

Drawing on my own personal experience, I must respectfully disagree with my old friend Ollie Steiner. I started playing jazz violin about six years ago. I have learned and grown immensely as a violinist and a musician through my jazz experience. My dedication to my art has not diminished. And my classical violin playing has grown and flourished thanks to my jazz experience. I have developed my awareness of havmony and structure -- two areas in which jazz musicians are far ahead of their classical counterparts. I have sharpened my sense of musical style and of the violinistic realization thereof. I have freed my musical imagination and become a more expressive player.

I regard my violin playing very much as an art -- and in that sense I have grown thorough my jazz experience. I am certainly not doing jazz for business reasons. The tiny bit of money that I make from playing occasional jazz gigs will never reflect the hundreds of hours I have put into it. but in terms of personal and artistic growth I am amply repaid.

April 29, 2009 at 01:27 AM ·

>>But let's face it.  The vast majority of average, non-musical people would get a lot more enjoyment out of hearing a jazz or swing piece, than classical. 

>Hi Smiley.  I utterly disagree with this absurdity although I`m doing it with a smile. 

Hi Buri,

I started formulating a response to your post in my head, and I was going to give irrefutable evidence that I was right and you are wrong.  But I decided that instead, I hope that you are right and I am wrong.  At the next company convention, I'm going to try some Mozart and Beethoven.  If anyone disapproves, I'll tell them it was your idea and feed them some prunes.



April 29, 2009 at 02:31 AM ·

I have found myself in the situation of using my classical training and understanding of theory to help students who brought pieces to me that were in styles and genres outside the classical sphere to help them. They and their parents and family musical mentors guided me in what they understood of their traditions and I provided the technical  and musical means to help them achieve their goals. In one instance a student was learning an Indian piece which required notating the complex melody and practicing the appropriate bending of notes. and understanding his melody in relation to the tabla. In another situation, with another Indian piece, the student needed to shape the phrase based on the meaning of the words he was playing which dealt with welcoming the new and sweeping away the old and bad habits of the past. In still another instance a student was learning  Irish fiddling and in one other instance a student was improvising in a  Cowboy Jazz style. In each case, I learned a lot from  what the student shared of their culture and their understanding of the style and I was able to help them polish their performance. In a more conventional classic way  I teach students how to write cadenzas for the Mozart Concerti. I find these experiences  a good stretch for the ear, mind, and soul and am glad for the opportunity to learn new things while also teaching what I can to be of help.

April 29, 2009 at 09:01 AM ·


go for it Smiley! But play them some Jazz first to warm them up.:)



April 29, 2009 at 06:54 PM ·

Roy Sonne wrote:

"I started playing jazz violin about six years ago."

Exactly my point.  You were a fully developed classical musician eons (excuse me for revealing our ages) before you started playing jazz.  As far as I recall, your violin education was entirely traditional classical training.......after which you had years of experience as a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony (was that during Lincoln's administration?)  A mere six years ago (but a fleeting second ago, in comparison to your venerable age) you started to play jazz!

April 29, 2009 at 07:04 PM ·

I have a recording of William Primrose playing "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair".

Poor Stephen Foster, so unClassical, so politically incorrect, so forgotten. And imagine the gall of Primrose, descending so far from Olympus to entertain hoi polloi. Should he not be ashamed?

Fortunately dead, he will be spared the ignominy of having tarnished the Art.

April 29, 2009 at 07:48 PM ·

Ollie, It must have been during the middle ages. :-)

Ah!! We are so wise and venerable. Now if only all those brash, youngsters would realize that.....

April 29, 2009 at 10:22 PM ·

Hello Sandy!

I find it most important to allow the student to be aware of the many diverse styles of music available for them to play. It often opens doors that would otherwise have stayed close. In my professional experience, classical music gave me an advantage, but no one really would have known that I was classically trained if I had not been asked. Most could care less. They appreciate the music for what it is: Music

I tell my students to learn all they can, where they can. Many violinists may love the classical world, and do what they can to promote it and pass on the mantel to their students. One must remember that the old masters were only doing that in which the public demanded, and that is the principal role of the musician. One may be able to throw off a brilliant rendition of a classic violin concerto, but the true test of musicianship comes from inspiring the audience and allowing the artist the freedom of expression that can only be found in most traditional fiddle players and those working in Jazz groups. I cannot stress composition enough here, but it does make a better musician, overall.

One is either a robot or an innovator, and there seems little room (or welcome) in the world of classical music for personal innovations concerning interpretation. Making music for the general populace seems more financially rewarding  (believe me, I know!), and a violinist (or fiddler) has more chances of real measured success in the field when they are well versed in all kinds of music.

April 30, 2009 at 09:45 AM ·

Within "classical" music there are so many genres. You might even categorise them by composer -  you approach Bach differently from Bartok, Brahms differently from Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky or Beethoven. The pastoral Englishness of Elgar is quite a different beast to the Finnishness of Sibelius. Gypsy inspired show pieces need a way of thinking quite different from that needed for Mozart. All use different languages and vocabulary

Thinking about teaching genres is, to my mind, a red herring. We teach the mechanisms and techniques of playing the violin. What we need is a good broad strong technique that will allow us to apply our instrument to whatever music we wish.

The western classical tradition has developed the most trustworthy system for gaining such mastery of the instrument, though it may not develop the musical mind quite so much.

As Roy says above, jazzers have a deep understanding of tonality and structure (also, I will add, time) such that classically trained players very rarely have. The fact that  hardly any straight players can swing or improvise over chord/key changes shows this. However, this is not a matter of violin playing - it is a mental issue, an approach to thinking in sound, and one that usually is persued by the self-motivated player rather than taught to them by a teacher.


May 1, 2009 at 04:57 AM ·

May 1, 2009 at 07:59 AM ·

I must also respectfully disagree with those who think that learning another style will detract from learning classical.

There are things that I am gaining from learning mariachi music and the Chinese Erhu that after a dozen or so years with classical music, I hadn't really learned or mastered. Everywhere from memorization to ornamentation, timbre, structure and harmony...not that classical never touched on things like these, but at the current time, these genres are taking me that much further and expanding my horizons...

I also feel that classical music/violin is not the only genre that requires huge amounts of dedication, practice, effort, etc. Plenty of instruments and traditions require huge amounts of dedication to reach high levels of competency. And honestly, for those that might not be so time-consuming...well...I wouldn't think that it would make them any less valuable/enjoyable/worthy/etc (I'm of the mind frame that music should be for everyone and there are the occasions when musicality can trump virtuosity).

Perhaps one ought to be wary of the potential to spread oneself too thin...also I find it a little difficult to have some of the phrasing instincts and mental analysis of classical pieces snap back right away if I have lapsed in playing some classical music for a while (though give me an afternoon of thinking, listening, reading, practicing, and it comes back).

Clearly when there are performances or competitions involved, one would have to prioritize...but would there really be any harm done to a performance if someone incorporated 2-3+ styles? Why can't someone perform some tango, jazz, classical, gypsy, or mariachi, etc. music in the same performance? Is it really that difficult for people to change gears? Are our minds so stiff? Can our muscles only handle one style at a time? Or does it become a wide range of motions, feelings, fine motor skills, that are broadly developed?

In general, from learning the violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, electric bass, erhu & Chinese music, and playing mariachi music, limited jazz music, fiddle music...there's not much of a difference between the foundational techniques needed to perform well and avoid injuries (wrists, staying relaxed, mechanics of shifting & vibrato, etc). If you learn the fundamental concepts, they can take you far and most everything else just becomes stylistic choice and minor changes. Musical patterns might overlap or not, but they just add to one's vocabulary, in my opinion, rather than get in the way of other things.

No doubt classical music is viewed as an art, but it's important not to go around judging other styles by whether they're art or can be many things in addition to art.

Hope I am able to give people some food for thought...

May 1, 2009 at 11:36 AM ·


I think the above is an excellent post but it really highlights the dangers of this discussion which has actually cropped up rather rudely in a previous post. That is the a priori assumption thta classical trained/performing violinist look down on and disparage Jazz  blue grass or whatever.  This is not usually the case in my experience.  It is perfectly possible to be respectful of other forms and at the same time state one`s position that classical music is enough for me.

It might then be worth rereading what Graham Clarke has ot say on the subject.  It is probably the fault of `classical Players@ to some extent given the modern tendency to perform prgrams that other threads have discussed as lacking a balanced diet so to speak. However, the great players of the past (and many today thankkfully) played works of all dffernet styled and very often did their best to play them in an apprpriate manner.  A good classicla violnist might well take a piece of popular music or  gypsy /Jazz inspired  and play it with heart soul and style.  Heifetz was qite hapy to record white Christmas with Sinatra,  or play Gershwin`s arrangements of Porgy and Bes s hits or whatever.  Not saying that is making a comittemnt to exploring another genre with no preconceptions but it does underscore the point that if one insists on narrowly defining a classical musician as someone who just plays Mozart and Bach then any critique one tries to build on that is actually a straw man .



May 1, 2009 at 02:45 PM ·

What about current Avant Guarde music / violinists?


May 1, 2009 at 06:47 PM ·

I must say, Buri, that I (a total jazzer/improviser etc, and not a great sight reader) have only ever been shown great respect and admiration by classical violinists. They usually ask where I trained, assuming that someone with my technique must have been to music college (!), but I have never felt looked down on by classical players. Only by other jazzers - because I play violin!

However, I have often felt inadequate myself. But that is just my own insecurity.



May 1, 2009 at 06:56 PM ·

Graham, that's a real shame that other jazz musicians look down on you because of your choice of instrument! 

May 1, 2009 at 09:05 PM ·

Yes Royce - there may be something wrong in that. It doesn't happen as much nowadays, but when I started in jazz, nearly thirty years ago, there was definitely a stigma attached to the violin. After one concert I did (just five years ago), the singer was told, "We were looking forward so much to seeing you (the singer), but if we had known there was a violinist before we booked tickets, we wouldn't have come". They went on to say they were glad they did attend, and that it was a great show, even with the fiddle.

And, strange to say, it was/is an attitiude I share(d). Even now, I rarely listen to violin in jazz or rock. I prefer to hear violin in a classical context, though I love those other jazz/blues/rock - and avant garde - contexts to play in, or to listen to, if played by more "traditional" instruments for those genres.

Overall, I don't think violinists have made the best fist of working in jazz (apart from the specialist field of Hot Club). I can count those I call decent modern jazz violinists on one hand. But as, I said privately to Roy, I expect the same level of jazz understanding from violinists as, say sax players, or pianists, and fiddlers tend not to have it.

Maybe, then, we should be learning those other genres at an earlier stage of development.




May 1, 2009 at 10:23 PM ·


Royce,  just so we don@t get confused I suppose you are asking about violinist attitude towards composers that we wouldlossley describe as classical even though the lable barely fits such as John Cage?

For me there are two sides to it.  In general `classical@ players are highly resistant to both the sounds and the techniques they may be called upon to do in such music. In a sense this is not that surprising.   Auer said the violin was a singing instrument and much of our time is spent striving for beauty,  the singing tone,  something that will touch peoples hearts.  Maybe it`s some kind of deeply buried search for love? Not only this,  but such music reuqires one to play with extremes the violin was never intended for (ffff for example) which are extremely detrimental to the tehcnique and the lack of tonal center also cause the brain/ear to lose its sensitivity to pitch on occasion although thisis a short term effetc and is counterbalanced y an increase d awarness of pitch one might develop while learning to work with microtones and so forth.

It`s also not really that much easier for such a player to begin to accept the kinds of sounds than it is for a layperson who will instinctively run for the channel changer.   You see what my limited experience has been is that one has to cut the grooves over time to learn to appreciate this stuff.  I was lucky (?) enough to receive a good deal of exposure to composers such as Birtwhistle,  Varese,   Cage,   Ives,  Douglas Young and Xenakis from my teens and I cam little by litlte to enjoy them and appreciate what they had to offer.  Not everyone has this opportunity.   

I wish this was not the case.  Consider the comments concerning the youtube orchestra.  Almost without exception the Cage work was rejected as trash.  Made me feel a bit silly.  I thought it was bloody marvelous;)   One of the issue s one should not lose sight of is that like any other period in music history there is good modern music and there is absolute garbage.  The garbage of today does sometimes hide behind intellectual posturing like the Emperor`s new clothes.  The reaction to the premieres of `The Grosse Fuga` (Dear Beethoven, now I now you are deaf)  and the Rite of Spring are lesson enough perhaps.



May 1, 2009 at 10:23 PM ·

Graham- I wonder how much of this stigma is conditioned at an early age?

Helen- What a priviledge to teach the Indian student!

I grew up in the Southwest of the United States, and the Apache Indians (Tine' in thier language) have a bowed instrument.  Most people aren't even aware of it.


May 1, 2009 at 11:09 PM ·

I don't know, Royce - I think we are more open, more malleable, at an earlier age. A seven year old will play what is asked of them - a four- year-old even more so. I suspect the attitudes kick in with puberty, when many young players stop violin, and get into those other genres, where they won't have to hear a violin again, and where the music is more suited for dancing at youth clubs etc. They buy guitars, and drum kits and get into rock and roll. Whoopee! I did, anyway.

I think the stigma against violin in jazz comes from violinists tending to sound a bit ricky-ticky, or not to be able to play in the flat keys, or not knowing the "right repertoire". Or even not playing n tune. I started learning jazz by copying Charlie Parker, so my jazz roots were in be-bop, and I had no problem with Eb or Ab. or even Db. That meant I could sit in with modern sax players and be coming from the same place. Later, I drew from Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, then Jan Garbarek, and other more contemporary players, so I had a shared experience with the other jazzers I played with.

I never modelled myself on any jazz violinists at all, and I really did use horn players' phrasing, using my breathing to give structure.

But no one taught me how to improvise. After I had been doing it for a couple of years, I went on a weekend course led by Eddie Harvey. I took the course on double bass (taught by Peter Ind), so I learnt about harmony from the bottom up, and I still go about learning chord sequences that way, as a bass player would.

But when I felt I had technical problems, I always went to a classical teacher for tuition. I took half a dozen lessons on bowing from one teacher, a couple on shifting from another, and a few years ago, I went to another for a "check up", and that's when I dropped the shoulder rest. I am probably due another lesson or three right now.


May 2, 2009 at 12:04 AM ·

Graham- Maybe you intimidate the other players? You hit too close for comfort with them? You are doing what they wish they could do?  Buri's post hit home.... Cage, Birtwhistle, though not neccessarily in your game park (in many ways they seem to be) they don't fit a mold.  People focus on the borders of a mold and totaly forget that there is a world of discovery out side it and totaly mis the great things going on inside it.... Damn!  I feel like I'm just rambling...... I fail to formulate the words for what I am seeing.  I err for lack of vocabulary!  I hear it, I just can't speak it.  The violin can speak volumes with our groanings that have no words on the tips of out tounges... only on the bow.


May 2, 2009 at 12:06 AM ·

Borders are convienient! Everything in it's place and every place has something proper in it. God Fobid if something Xeno rattles the freakin' cage!  Look at how Cubists boxed in Impressionism?

more rambling.....


May 2, 2009 at 03:37 AM ·


in such a state it is sometimes  better to just sit around and Picasso..... 



May 2, 2009 at 03:39 AM ·

One of the best things that is happening in the musical world in the 21st Century is that the barriers are being broken down; that more and more people are crossing over from one genre to another and that the crossing over is gaining acceptance.

In the sixties when I was a student -- when you could be expelled from music school for playing jazz. Today just about every music school has a jazz department and many students become adept at both jazz and classical. Unfortunately there are few string players among them. And fewer teachers of jazz for strings. But that too is changing.

Consider the phenomenon of Mark O'Connor, who started out as a championship fiddler, then started writing violin concertos which he performed with symphony orchestras all over the world. He has recorded and performed extensively with great artists from the classical world such as Yo Yo Ma. He has written a symphony which has been recorded by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. And he is now the artistic director of the summer festival of the Seattle Symphony.

There is also an ensemble called Time For Three -- two violinists and a bass player from the Philadelphia Orchestra who have made quite a career presenting a mix of eclectic mix of bluegrass, Hungarian gypsy, jazz, country-western fiddling. One of the violinists, Zachary DePue is now the concertamaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.


May 2, 2009 at 09:42 AM ·

Buri- Thanks for the laugh!  :^)  Lord what was I thinking!

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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 Shopping Guide 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 in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine