Not Classically there room for us here?

April 12, 2010 at 10:41 PM ·

Hello everone, just joined up a couple of days ago, looks like a lot of fun. From what I've read so far, looks like there's a lot of top notch classical players on this site. I like to rock out on blues music with the violin. My Idea of fun is putting on a ZZ Top cd and trying to out play the guitarist. But I'm starting to feel a little intimidated from what I perceive to be a very high level of musician ship from a lot of the players here. Hence the there room for us "hackers" on I expect to learn a lot on this site and be considerably challenged. And besides, what could be more fun than talking violins...except playing violins...

Replies (54)

April 13, 2010 at 01:05 AM ·

Hi Dave, and welcome. I'm pretty new to this site too (joined in Feb), and have found the members to be supportive of players of all levels and genres. You don't have to be of professional calibre to contribute to a discussion, and you don't have to play classical. Although I was taught classical as a kid, I now mostly fiddle (definitely NOT professional quality).

I'm interested to know who else here plays outside the classical realm??

April 13, 2010 at 01:13 AM ·

Hi Dave:  I would not be concerned about being on here.  There are players here at all levels and genres, and teachers of all sorts, including some famous ones.  There are young people just starting out, adult beginners, and really, one often cannot tell from their posts how people play;  I've noticed that (for example) some posters sound extremely knowledgeable, but when one examines their profile it turns out that they may have a very good recording collection, and be very well read, but have not played much, certainly not in public, and haven't worked with any important teachers (whatever that means).

I agree with the characterization of this site as one of the oldest and most respected on the net.  This site was up and running when I started my stuff, about 16 years ago I think (?) and the owners have done a good job of monitizing this site without offending anyone, which is not an easy task.  My interactions over the years with the owners have been few, but those few have shown patience and courtesy on their side.  I salute them for that.

One thing I am concerned about on your profile is the inclusion of what I suppose (?) is your real name, address and phone number.  I don't think this is wise.  Real name, maybe, but certainly not the other information.  If you interact online lone enough, you will see why;  it's just not a good idea, IMHO.


April 13, 2010 at 02:23 AM ·

I'm relatively new to the site, and although I do want to play classical, I'm only on my third lesson (which I had today) and the people are all very nice here. :)

April 13, 2010 at 03:19 AM ·

Dave, have the autographs of Ponty and Grappelli tells me you are an avid fan and listener of two very fine violinists. Folks here come from a variety of backgrounds and your presence is most welcome

I won't be presumptuous of other members' abilities and pedigrees...

"some posters sound extremely knowledgeable, but when one examines their profile it turns out that they may have a very good recording collection, and be very well read, but have not played much, certainly not in public, and haven't worked with any important teachers" psychic is plenty.

April 13, 2010 at 03:29 AM ·

There is the teacher (as important as it is!!!) and then, there is what you teach yourself...

Even Milstein told about also beeing your own teacher in a way inventing what is best for you...

(In addition of taking real lessons for sure.)

You just see your teacher for a really short period each week afterall.

Just a though along with Sam's post idea.  A student can't just be the product of the teacher he had since he/she is also a product of his own creativity and teaching.

Welcome Dave! Music of all styles is beautiful!


April 13, 2010 at 03:48 AM ·

We're really not all that stuffy in these parts.  Here's a little project that I worked on with a friend not long ago.  Vivaldi will never be the same for me...

April 13, 2010 at 02:59 PM ·

Wow! Thanks for all the responses so far everyone. I didn't know how long it might take to get a discussion topic posted, and after a few days I thought the editor might have rejected it and was starting to sulk. I feel better now ha ha. Might even try a blog on bluesviolin "tip 'o the week " or something goofy like that.

April 13, 2010 at 03:41 PM ·

Yes, welcome!  Smart move, too, removing your address and phone number.  Permit me to recommend to you or anyone:  only provide personal information on a "need to know" basis.  Most people are very nice but there is a small percentage who are not.  I council teachers online and have a private listserv to help protect the families and privacy of teachers who have ads online.  See:

Fraud against Music Teachers

There are people online who are sort of fiendishly intelligent, to a degree (but never as smart as they think they are) and who do not have anyone's best interests at heart, and also who lack integrity and human kindness. In other words, they twist things and lie and are deceitful and even potentially dangerous.  If you'd like to hear some of our experiences, write me privately, or read some of the following (really creepy) books (see list, below).  It's like dealing with a snake or something...

Legal issues online:
(a.) If you have a studio policy or other information online about your teaching, associated with your email address, you are apt to receive a lot of fraudulent messages, attempting to get you to accept a stolen or bad check, and then return an overage amount to the thief. I have a Teacher Directory and an online Studio Policy, and regularly receive messages of this type, based on my online presence.

(b.) If you do business online, you must educate yourself about online security issues, including concerns about wireless security, hacking, phishing, spam and identity theft. If you put your name, phone number, address and resume online, you are bound to encounter difficulties. To start, I recommend the following:

April 13, 2010 at 04:09 PM ·

There is also pretty kind persons too on the net.  I've exchanged music or articles with wonderful people from other countries and this have always been a joy!  I even saw a musical friend once who was attending the same concert.  Never ever did anything wrong with my adress and nor did I with theirs. It was obvious they were not dangerous.  Perhaps one has to use his jugement too as with everything in life.



April 13, 2010 at 04:14 PM ·

>>  Perhaps one has to use his jugement (sic) too as with everything in life.

But Anne-Marie, that's pretty much exactly what I said:  "Most people are very nice but there is a small percentage who are not."  In fact, if you look at the research that Robert Hare and others have done (Hare is an eminent researcher in the field of psychopathology), the chances of having a predictable percentage of such people in a decent sized population, is stable. So forgive me, but what you're saying is absolutely correct, but you're stating the obvious.

This is an important fact for string teachers to be aware of, the point of which is to protect them and their families.


April 13, 2010 at 04:23 PM ·

I hope there's room for it here, because I'm also new and have only just started the process by which I will be retaining a teacher ... and I ADORE rock.  Classical, opera, and stadium rock are my vernaculars, and I began seriously contemplating learning a stringed instrument when it became obvious to me that I couldn't do justice to the highly vocally driven 80s rock that I love on a piano.

Now, I intend to focus on classical as a student since I love it so much and it's such a brilliant way to learn.  If you study classical inside and out, you can do anything else you want.  But I put Haendel's arias for Senesino and Journey on the same footing in my mind and heart, and I certainly hope there's room for that here.

My ultimate goal is to own and be able to use fluently my acoustic viola, a good carbon fiber, and one of Mark Wood's Stingrays.  Those things are a beauty and a joy forever.  :-)

April 13, 2010 at 04:27 PM ·

You're not as bad as I thought (due to the first impression), Connie.
Keep up the good work.

And sure, your level or genre doesn't matter so don't worry :)


April 13, 2010 at 04:29 PM ·

Hi Dave and welcome.  You've quickly perceived that most participants here are interested in classical violin, but that is true generally, so its to  be expected.  But its possible to learn a lot about technique and the violin itself.  Some number of folks here are interested in improvising in its many forms.  You'll find them.  My own interests are jazz and funk.

Regarding learning and being challenged, you may want to check out my new book with exercises aimed at buildng the techniques needed for improvisation.  Click for info about Arpeggios, Rhythms, and Scales  Though it talks about jazz improvisation, it is a technique builder for any improvisation on the violin.  Enjoy,

April 13, 2010 at 05:52 PM ·

Hi, Dave --

Welcome aboard!  You'll fit right in.  I'm an adult (waaaaaaay adult!) beginner in violin, but have a decently strong background in piano.  I can't afford violin lessons right now, so I'm doing what I can to teach myself (Violin for Dummies, the first Suzuki book, and lots of playing by ear).  I love classical, but most of what I'm doing so far is "traditional" Irish and American.  I'm making progress, but I don't foresee the need to ever sell tickets! :)  I've found the people here on to be very helpful (and sometimes fall-off-your-chair funny!)  Glad you found us!



April 13, 2010 at 06:59 PM ·

You might like this forum too -

Besides that I havent found much for rock... I used to like rock but I now I dont know. I think rock has been done too many times and there is nothing more to do with it. I like Tchaikovsky... I dont think Paganini was classically trained either. He was mostly very natural.

April 13, 2010 at 07:26 PM ·

In reference to an earlier post on this thread:  Does anyone here know the difference between an "important" teacher and an "unimportant" one?  I didn't know there WERE any "unimportant" ones.  Hmmmmmmm..............just curious...............

April 13, 2010 at 07:55 PM ·

I don't think that any teachers should be unimportant. No teacher is unimportant however one can be from the students perspective which is really a shame if a student really does see a teacher like that.

April 13, 2010 at 08:42 PM ·

>> I don't think that any teachers should be unimportant.

I agree.  I don't think any teacher is "unimportant," but some teachers are important because of their contribution to the literature.  Like Simon Fischer, DeLay and Galamian, and historically, writers of important violin treatises like Leopold Mozart, Geminiani and Tartini.  Or a teacher could be important because they have trained a lot of great players (like Dorothy DeLay). 

April 13, 2010 at 09:46 PM ·

Sure, you're welcome, but we have a rule' new guy brings the donuts.

I hope you have enough for everybody!

April 13, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

"Not Classically there room for us here?"



April 13, 2010 at 11:27 PM ·



April 14, 2010 at 12:14 AM ·

Connie, yes you really said this, just that at first sight, I freaked when I saw this long email with reference about how to protect onself from crazy ; )   The big words were those that grabbed my attention ; )



April 14, 2010 at 01:47 PM ·

Welcome! I'm a longtime classical player, whose chief joy (and pride) comes from having become a mean Cajun fiddler without a classical accent :) Not my assessment; I've played for a big handful of the best & asked that question. I also dabble on some fiddle-oriented forums, and abandoned one or two due to "attitude" about classical music & classical players. You'll find that anywhere, I guess, but not so much here. Sue

April 14, 2010 at 06:19 PM ·

Good on ya Sue for breaking into Cajun. It's good to fool around with a couple of different generes, yes? good for rut breaking. I could have used some classical discipline somewhere along the line, but difficult now at age 57.

April 14, 2010 at 08:32 PM ·

This thread, combined with another conversation I had, made me write this:-

Just some observations, and thoughts.



April 14, 2010 at 10:07 PM ·

The Blues eh,

Buddy Guy will be in Calgary Apr/15,

Go if you can, you won't regret it. I just saw him in Hamilton.


April 15, 2010 at 05:52 AM ·

Buddy Guy,  eh Rob? Sounds tempting, maybe more tempting if I could find a date yuk yuk.

Hhmmm, a concert or try out a nice warm set of Pro Arte's. The strings would probably be cheaper (smile)

April 15, 2010 at 06:18 AM ·

Hello Graham, yup, I read your article Classical/Jazz. Holy cat fishin' Annie, did you think all that stuff up before breakfast? yuk yuk, just jiven' you, it was great, it really was.

I can maybe imagine what the rush is like for a classical player, but I can only really identify with the jazzer. That's all I've ever done, improvisation. But that was a very interesting statement about the jazzer not pushing their technique as much as a classical player cuz they're not "forced to"

But whatever the rush for a classical player, I know it can be great when you're "making up the story as you go along" (I liked that analogy) especially in that rare moment when you fall off the cliff and begin to fly.

April 15, 2010 at 06:19 AM ·

Welcome, Dave and thanks for starting this discussion.  I have really enjoyed reading the comments.  I play classical and other genres.  I sense that the great majority of people who write on this site are classical violinists.  It took me a long time to come out of the closet and admit that I play non-classical music.  Even now, I hesitate to write about it.  I feel fortified by all the comments from people who play or accept non-classical music.

I just used the search function to look for various genres of music mentioned on this site, excluding classical.  By far the most common one was Irish.  Bluegrass came in second.  There were very few hits on blues, jazz, and Scottish.

Laurie Niles, the editor of this site, has been interviewing people who play non-classical music.  I believe that means that a diversity of genres should be accepted here.

April 15, 2010 at 03:43 PM ·

Thanks Pauline; what's the difference between Irish & Scottish, other than Bushmills & Johnny Walker?

April 16, 2010 at 04:49 AM ·

forget the comment about Bushmills/ Johnny Walker...I was just being stupid...sorry! I'd seriously like to know the difference, not quite sure what scottish fiddle might be.

Pauline?... Anybody?

April 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM ·

I'm with you, Dave -- very curious about Scottish style.  I read a long time ago that Bluegrass (defined broadly as southern Appalachian area music) is rooted in the Scottish style.  Does anyone know if this is true -- can you expand on it?  Thanks!

April 16, 2010 at 11:10 AM ·

Scottish versus Irish? Here we enter into a discussion that can get heated among fiddlers. It's true that due to proximity, there are many similarities between the two, but for fiddlers who play either (or maybe both) styles, there are some glaring differences.

When we talk about Irish or Scottish fiddling, we might be talking about where a tune originated. Or we may be talking about the particular phrasing/ornamentation used when it's played. And within each tradition, there can be regional differences (for instance different counties in Ireland, different island in Scotland). In my mind, hallmarks of Scottish music include might include cuts (aka bowed triplets), drones, Strathspeys, prounounced emphasis on the first beat of each measure for reels/jigs. Irish leans towards cuts (different from Scottish cuts, more like lightly fingered grace notes), Irish rolls, more slurring for phrasing reels and jigs.  That being said, Scottish players play Irish and vice versa, and styles will often overlap (for instance, Donegal Highlands can be thought of as Strathspeys).

I am certainly not as well-informed as many out there, but that is my view as a fiddler from Nova Scotia, who loves Cape Breton fiddling (which now incorporates a bit of Irish). I've also heard that Appalachian fiddling originated from Scottish style, due to the Scottish ancestry of the people that settled there, but I don't know any more about it.

Good Irish (and a little Scottish) fiddling website:

Comparison of Scottish styles: (in "traditions" section)

Hope I didn't misinform or confuse:)


April 16, 2010 at 01:15 PM ·

FWIW,  I did a survey on Fiddle-List, a listserv based at Brown University.  I was curious how many different fiddle styles there might be, and there were a far greater number that thought.  See:

It seems like wherever there have been human beings, there have been fiddle styles. 

April 16, 2010 at 05:21 PM ·

Fascinating...really! At the risk of splitting hairs, I think I'd lean toward Scottish, gonna check out as per Vivian. 'sept I don't even know if I can download music at this point cuz I just got a used lap top for the 9' x 12' room that I live in a couple of weeks ago. But there's a guy down the hall who can help me, so sooner or later...

April 16, 2010 at 05:33 PM ·

Oh, dear!  Please don't tell me that Irish vs. Scottish is to fiddlers as shoulder rest vs. not is to the classicists?

April 16, 2010 at 07:32 PM ·

I think that any fierce loyalty you might encounter with Irish/Scottish fiddlers isn't due to the conviction that their style is the best, but it's more from pride in the heritage and tradition. Most audiences cannot differentiate between the two, and often they get lumped together as "Celtic" fiddlers, and this can be frustrating. But as a fiddler, when I play old Scottish tunes, I am hoping to keep the music alive in a world that is increasingly indifferent to it. The only way to do this is to pass these tunes fiddler to fiddler (or, I suppose, recordings). It's just not possible to document it by writing it down in sheet music, as there are so many nuances that can't be notated.

I suppose that what I'm trying to say is that many traditional Irish or Scottish fiddlers may feel like they are champions of a dying art, and act accordingly. Most of us happily play tunes from any heritage, but we usually keep its provenance in mind. If I play with another fiddler, we'll often talk about the tunes we play--where we learned them, who wrote them, how we've heard other fiddlers play them. Stuff like that... very nerdy but oh so delicious!

By the way, shoulder rests are for sissies! Just kidding!


April 17, 2010 at 06:34 AM ·

I won't get into the Irish vs Scottish, but for the Scottish, is it Highland or Lowland? There is a difference in the whiskey, so there must be a difference in the music!

April 17, 2010 at 09:38 AM ·

Good one Roland. And thought I had to appologise for the Bushmills/Johnny Walker comment.

But I'm enjoying this! I have the utmost respect for either Irish or Scottish fiddlers. I tried some Irish many years ago but gave up after about 3 months as I just didn't have the patience/couldn't handle all them short bow strokes. I'm a long bow stroker, which I know is very limiting cuz there's a lot of short bow strokes in jazz. My left hand is definitely better than my right. Comes from starting guitar at age 8 and violin at 22. So much to work on, so little time...

April 17, 2010 at 01:26 PM ·

There is certainly room for different musical styles and levels here. Even many of us highly-accomplished, mainly classical types aren't all that 'artsy-fartsy', and enjoy doing different styles.

My specialty is classical, but I've been on gigs with Tony Bennet, Tito Puente, once served as concertmaster for Ray Charles, and can be seen in some shots (on the left fore ground) in the Rascal Flatts video, "Feels Like Today". The variety is fun!

April 17, 2010 at 04:05 PM ·

Ok, I'm impressed now, makes my day that a player of Raphael's caliber would respond to ANYTHING I had to say, no kidding! I just bet Graham is pretty hot also, and tons of others on this site I don't even know about. As soon I figure out how to listen to some stuff on this thing, I'm gonna start clicking on some of these classical references I see.

Tony Bennett eh...

April 17, 2010 at 05:44 PM ·

Yes, the Tony Bennet gig was an early MTV commercial. See my story in the "violin hickys" thread.

April 17, 2010 at 05:48 PM ·

Raphael --

Rascal Flatts??!!!  Wow -- I am SERIOUSLY awe-struck!!  I love those guys.  :)


April 17, 2010 at 06:43 PM ·

Rascal Flats is pretty cool. I also like Lone Star (the band and beer).  One of the greatest joys here at this sight is that bower makers, Luthiers will give excellent insight into things that a violin player may would have never discovered or know. Plus Tasmin Little comments which is awesome! Teachers like Stephen "Buri" Brivati offering practical wisdom on all levels. And folks like me that returned to playing after a long term absence for one reason or another. I would like to see interviews with violinists/fiddlers in the Country & Western recording world. Sara Evans has an awesome fiddler! But it all depends on whoever is willing to be interviewed.

Oh, BTW... Johnny Walaker is alright, but for the price McLelands is hard to beat!!!!


And today I turned 45!!!

April 17, 2010 at 07:08 PM ·

Something else... to be a real v.commie you must also be a cone-suer of the humble PRUNE!

April 17, 2010 at 10:57 PM ·

Hey Royce... Johnny "Walaker"...looks like you might have already had a birthday nip or two.

Happy Birthday!!

With all that's goin' on in this thread. I'd completely forgot about Country & Western.

But I like both kinds of music: Country AND Western.

A quote from the movie "Blues Brothers" just in case any of you missed that.

April 17, 2010 at 11:15 PM ·

I got it! I always liked that line!

April 18, 2010 at 03:36 PM ·

Royce --

Belated Happy Birthday!  I didn't see your post about it until today (Sunday).  Hope you did something fun to celebrate. :)



April 18, 2010 at 09:51 PM ·

Had a beautiful day here in Laramie!

April 18, 2010 at 10:55 PM ·


Regarding your question about Highland or Lowland Scottish... when I was talking about Scottish style, I was generalizing. You're absolutely right that there are differences btwn the two regional styles, but I don't know much about them first-hand. I'm mostly exposed to Cape Breton style fiddling which is strongly influenced by Highland Scots. Once in a while I might hear a comment like, "That's kind of a Lowland thing to do," when describing someone's playing, but I don't know enough about Lowland style to compare the two with confidence. Maybe someone else is able to comment on this?



April 19, 2010 at 03:16 AM ·

....and I thought Roland was just kidding about Highland/Lowland. I wound not have beleived it if Vivian had not posted...."that's kind of a lowland thing to do".... you just can't make up a statement like that!

But I guess it stands to reason-- Chicago/Detroit blues.

Perhaps someone can indeed elaborate on the differences, fiddle that is, not whisky. Although the differences in Whisky might also be interesting.

April 19, 2010 at 04:30 AM ·

Indeed, I'd like to welcome all genres of violin music and types of players, including young and old, new students and veterans, and people of all racial backgrounds. You just have to love the violin, that's all! And, respect the site and its members. So welcome.

April 19, 2010 at 05:56 AM ·

Well, none of my posts are completely on the level, but I do recognize that music reflects culture, and there may be a country culture, but there are still hill folk and valley folk, no matter where you go. Their world is different, so their culture has to be different also!

Now for me, although I really do prefer lowland scotch, I don't think I could stand to live somewhere where the horizon wasn't all broken up and hidden by a bit of terrain. It just ain't natcheral!

Now that I know there is a difference in Scottish music, I need to dig a bit and find out more.

April 19, 2010 at 02:52 PM ·

I have heard fiddlers in Texas discuss Lowland & Highland aspects regarding their fiddle playing! One has to remember that many settlers in that area of Texas and through out the South came from Scotland & Ireland.  Much of the Mountain Music has it's roots in Celtic music! Also in Texas are quite many Cezc & German enclaves and also have contributed to texas Music in the Central and Northern areas.

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