About Stirling's technique
I've read here and in many other forums that Lindsey Stirling, a musician that seems to be as loved by the masses as she is disliked by violinits, that her playing is bad and shows poor technique. But rarely someone points out to something in particular, making all these comments vague and useless.
Watching her videos, I'm unable to see anything that I'd consider a mistake - but I know for a fact that my eyes are not keen enough to see something like that.
Most of the time she is playing an electric violin. It would be beter if here we consider a video of her playing acoustic. What kind of mistakes do you think she committed?
It's her preening and posing that I can't stand. It's like "I'm a girl, see me dance. Wouldn't you like to have sex with me. Buy my CD."
Welcome to the 21st century. This is what people want to see. You may not like it—I certainly can't stand it–but that's a fact.
Her right hand technique is, to put it kindly, primitive. There’s a lot more to it than that but my student is here.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to have sex with Paganini, then or now.
she's a pop musician and a dancer. she's not a virtuoso, but she makes catchy music that has actually gotten a lot of people interested in learning to play the violin. she's basically an electric fiddle player, so I don't think it's fair to compare her technique to that of a typical classical violinist, especially while she's doing acrobatics as she plays.
David, I don't see the "wouldn't you like to have sex with me" bit in the linked videos...although ive come across one or two who do use their sex appealon youtube. Prior to blaming them for it, I say better blame the producers and consumers who allow for it. I have non violinist examples in mind from my 'region of origin' where women with talent had to pander to the lowest denominator in able to make a living in the music world. But also in "western" countries.
If you don't see what I'm talking about in these videos, then it is a lost cause:
Her technique is obviously sufficient to serve the purpose to entertain her audience. The music is often based on a repetitive sequences and 3-4 chords, but who cares, if that makes people happy and even motivates some kids to ask for a violin lesson? I think that analyzing the technique of non-classical violinist is a moot point.
It is one of the glories of the violin that it is so adaptable to different genres and techniques all over the world and throughout its whole history. An amazing Acadian fiddler or a violinist playing Indian classical music might not be able to play Paganini, but who cares? I am just glad that many people enjoy the violin in all its forms....I should add that I've never seen a whole Lindsey Stirling video, but she seems to be doing ok in her niche, so carry on..
She has found a niche and occupies it well and fully. As for the sex sells theme, she is a Mormon and professes to not want to project that sort of image, although I can see how that might be inferred watching the videos.
Never saw her before so everything I say is based entirely on this video. But she is what she is. There are celtic and blue-grass fiddlers, rockers and jazz. They have their own internal evaluation schemes. From outside, I think her intonation's occasionally a bit odd, she only uses the middle of the bow, dynamics are fairly flat, there's no way of knowing what her tone is actually like given the electronic "I'm singing in the shower" enhancement, her left-hand technique is limited, and her use of the different tonal colors by string and bow placement is limited to "I want a new color, so I'll simply play it at a higher pitch". Now, some of that is because of her material and there's no way I know to separate out limitations she imposes on limitations she's working under.
@tammuz, watch a whole show of Celtic Women. If it does not sink in, then you are their target audience.
sometimes her right elbow and right forearm is just weird, but sometimes it isn't weird.
Caitlin no relation of Cruella, I take it?
I don’t listen to either of them, so I’m happy.
Lindsay Stirling is a mediocre violinist, a decent dancer, and an absolutely brilliant marketer. I don't dispute that her violin technique is not at the core of what she does, but the question asked was specifically about that.
This is alot like the old comments about Mario Lanza not being up to La Scala. He sold tons of albums and entertained millions. It’s called the music BUSINESS for a reason. SALES and smiling faces.
Marty, I wouldn't expect anyone to listen to Cruella more than once. Indeed, all I know about her is from hearsay and Wikipedia
Well, her technique is a lot better than it used to be.
We normally do not discuss fiddlers in terms of classical techques. Not sure why LS should be different. She is not a classical violinist.
I was rather intrigued by the comments here. I don't care for her music and I certainly don't follow Lindsey's career, but I was curious enough to type "Lindsey Stirling unplgged" on Youtube and came up with the following video:
Whether we like her style or not, her technique or not, I think Lindsey Stirling has been a huge benefit for the whole violin and fiddle world.
Maybe the questions should be what is it that gives Lindsay Stirling 2 billion views and millions of dollars when a lot of classical violinists are not reaching audiences? Perhaps it's that we put too much emphasis on consummate technique rather than energy, attitude, capturing the audiences imagination/excitement and generally connecting to an audience?
Thanks for the link to that video. It's the first time I heard Lindsay Stirling play and I enjoyed it very much. It was easily better then anything I heard on the radio in the car this afternoon, driving around the Boston area, listening to a local pop station. She's obviously a very talented musician. I'm a fan.
Stirling shouldn't be judged by the standards of classical violinists any more than we judge fiddlers by those standards.
Raymond, Here in Boston I recommend 99.5, WCRB classical radio.
Christopher Payne, why do say "square rhythmic phrasing generic classical style"? Wouldn't square rhythmic playing be a mark of poor classical music performance?
I used to listen to her even before I started studying violin. Her music is very good for running because she uses very constant and very well marked Beats Per Minute along her songs.
As for "sex sells," remember some of that is in the performer's intentions, and some of it is in the eye of the beholder. Stirling is young and pretty, and she has the physique of the dancer (because she is one). These are not crimes, and they shouldn't be liabilities either. I don't think she's "selling it" any more than Janine Jansen or Yuja Wang. Certainly not more than Taylor Swift. Would we be talking about Stirling's "technique" if there were no twirling or closely tailored outfits in her videos? What if, in one of her videos, she turned up in one of Anne-Sophie Mutter's sleeveless mermaid gowns? What would y'all be saying then? Either you enjoy Stirling's schtick or you don't. And if you find yourself staring at her derriere or her decolletage, maybe that's your problem.
"Wouldn't square rhythmic playing be a mark of poor classical music performance?"
I shamelessly admit to a love for the crossover classical violinists. I enjoy David Garrett, too -- he's quite a good classical player but I like him much more in his crossover work. And there are some circumstances under which I really love Vanessa Mae. (My toddler is totally fascinated by her Four Seasons.)
I find it very funny and cute when people claim that sexy dresses don't matter, or better, the whole look of a musician. Every single thing a musicians does or wears is expressing something, specially for soloists. There's a dress code for a reason, you can't be in an orchestra, playing a concert, wearing trousers, half opened Hawaiian t-shirt and crocks. The looks are very important, even if you act like you're above them, which you're not. There is a pianist, Yuja Wang, that caused a lot of "media trouble" when she performed wearing a dress that was so short almost her whole leg was shown, from toe to down back. You, everyone, can play the naive card and say "it's just a dress, I don't see any sexual intention here". Well, yes and no, how you look tells a lot about you, doesn't matter if you believe it or not.
If it is true that "Music soothes the save breast," then I favor anything that brings people to such music. After all, music should be just that, not a sport or contest, despite Paganini, Ysaye and the proliferation of music competitions.
Tim, she's not exactly playing funeral music. And I agree with Paul Deck...there's an element of "in the eye of the beholder". But I don't think that the object of sight need be blamed for the eye's imagination:)
It ain't no funeral!
My point, and I made it very clear, is that you got to know what to wear, when and where, and those dresses she wears sometimes are totally out of place. There's a thing called dress code, and you must follow it. In college, in school, in work, in restaurants and in music.
I think popular music has its own dress codes too. It's not black dresses and suits!
I never said in classical music only black dresses, neither in pop.
First, a big part of Stirling's performance is dance, and she wears very ballerina-esque clothing. I have no idea what Tim is talking about with his nude comments. It's not a rational comparison. She's not standing still in a concert hall, she's dancing on a youtube video while playing a violin. She is dressed appropriately for the medium she's in. Frankly, I wouldn't work in one of those 19th Century ballgowns Andre Rieu has the women wear. But that's my opinion, and I have a very live and let live attitude toward those who are fine with it. If you don't like it, don't watch it. But stop being the police of how women should dress!
Mention has been made of Andre Rieu. The following may be of interest. Andre Rieu has a good familial musical background (his father was a professional symphony conductor). He studied violin at conservatories in Holland and Belgium, his teachers including Hermann Krebbers, finally gaining the Grand Prix at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. I think we may conclude that Andre Rieu's violin technique was taken to the highest level.
I don't listen to her music, so I could be wrong, but I respect that Lindsey Stirling seems to stay in her lane, and doesn't bother with classical music. Vanessa Mae did some sort of weird crossover stuff which is just unlistenable - that stuff is perverse.
Are we talking about Lindsay Stirling or Nicki Minaj?! :)
I was not talking about Lindsey, please, before you go nuts, learn to read correctly. I'm not a policeman of dresses, I was just talking about a particular situation of Yuja Wang. And yes, many of my comments were referring to today's trending music videoclips.
Tim, about "eye of the beholder," please remember that I said, "some of that is in the performer's intentions, and some of it is in the eye of the beholder." I don't think that reflects naivete. The fact is, a lot of women's professional attire is closely tailored too (e.g., suits). When women walk around wearing yoga pants (i.e., tights), are they trying to be sexy? Or just comfortable?
I just saw Lindsey Stirling in a video dressed as Galadriel from LOTR. And another one dressed as Link from Zelda.
Ok, to clear that up, the dresses of Stirling are fine, she's like a rockstar, and you can wear that kind of stuff, just like Garrett wears casual clothes in his shows. The "problem" would be if they go like that to play a classical concert, then those clothes would be incorrect. Now, Yuja Wang is not only incorrect, but totally out of place when she wears those dresses.
I'll trust you have done your research!
Prancercise in the snow? No thanks!
Forget the dress... If she can play piano with those shoes, I'm impressed.
Jesus, Tim. Close your eyes if it bothers you. Most classical musicians have a face for radio to match their music-making, so if someone has nice legs in a addition to playing well, where is the distraction if you listen with your ears?
Yeah, what one thing has to do with the other one?
Women cannot win: either they are deemed “too sexy” or “not sexy enough”, told to smile or they look angry, are too skinny, too fat, too much makeup, too little makeup, have to fit everyone else’s vision of what they should look like - nevermind their own vision of what they want to look like in whichever setting they choose. God forbid a woman dresses as she wants to dress, else she be deemed a rebel...
I can condemn the artist formally known as "Kennedy" if you like, but I usually get condemned for doing it.
There are no strict, hard and fast rules. Male violin soloists often not even wear tuxedos/ties (like the orchestra members do) to play anymore.
No, you don't get it Pamela. I would never stop supporting (going to concerts or buying CD) a musician, female or male, because he or she wears inappropriate attire. Nevertheless, I can say out loud and clear that sometimes she wears dresses that are not proper at all, that's all, not a big deal. It's an unnecessary way to gain unnecessary attention, because she's the centre of attention when she's on stage.
Live and let live.
I could care less what Yuja wears because she can PLAY. Really play. She could be naked for all I care. She's earned her place on the stage. I feel like others, like Lindsey Stirling and heck, even Nigel Kennedy, have to play up the other stuff to compensate for their not-so-stellar playing.
That's it! I'm going to cut of the midsections of all my dress shirts to show off my si...eight pack.
Sure, it's all permitted, I'm a free man. Do you argue with orchestra members and conductors when they tell you you gotta wear black suits or dresses?
I maybe wouldn't worry too much about what other people wear. I think the live and let live comment above is where I fall, but really it's none of my business nor is it any of yours. Maybe let this go? I don't know why you're so fired up about other peoples' clothing choices. Lindsay's attire is wholly appropriate for music video's and the venues and events that she plays. Yuxa is a soloist and wears dresses that she likes and is comfortable in. That should be enough.
For example, this video, Stirling plays live without effects:
I'm sorry I'm not talking about the original topic. I'm not fired up, I just wanted to point out that not everything is permitted, as some have suggested here. Now I should stick to the topic, sorry again.
I enjoyed the video you posted and I like Lindsey Stirling. I heard her speak at Google a couple of years ago and she came across as a very genuine, sweet, and nice person.
Yuja Wang is very clever. Look how much discussion her hemline generates. That's one way to become a household name, I guess. If you think it's hard for violin soloists to demonstrate individuality, and if you are among those who mourn the loss of the individuality purportedly demonstrated by the stars of yore, believe me, it's ten times as hard for pianists, it's a limitation of the instrument itself. Wang sells orchestra tickets. But not to me.
Wait, are you saying all "professional" pianists play almost the same? That is very hard to play one piece different form another performer, that there is almost no individuality in pianists?
Why all this obsession with technique for someone who stays in her lane? Consider who Lindsey Stirling is actually competing with: pop violinists and maybe a few crossover artists. Her technique is better than average by those standards -- not that it's exemplary, but have you seen some of the others?!
In any case, Tim, I am going to disagree with you regarding your picture of Yuja Wang. Just to highlight that it is a matter of tastes.
It's a subjective topic, I know, she can wear porn star clothes and you could still play the "for me she's beautiful and nice" card. I said it's not that big of a deal, I simply say that's inappropriate for a classical concert, that's all. I don't feel disrespected or offended in any way, I feel a little sad for her because that was unnecessary, but I would still go to her concerts if I like her. Those dresses are not elegant or sexy for me, by the way. I also said thay if Garrett goes with his casual clothing, that would be also incorrect.
Tim, I don't think that Stirling performs any classical.
Yeah, I know. I've tried to watch some classical pieces played by her, but couldn't find it.
The OP says, "her playing is bad and shows poor technique. But rarely someone points out to something in particular".
So I think it would be possible to sum up the problems of Lindsey Stirling as not being Lindsey Stirling, but her audience being overzealously uninformed..
I don't think Lindsey Stirling is benefiting from people inventing stories. She doesn't claim to have ever been a concert violinist, and quite openly says she was not a very good violinist or dancer in her teens. If anything, she plays up the late-bloomer aspect of her biography.
What I was saying was fans invent fanfic. And fanfic is usually junk.
Cynthia, you're talking senseless. First, I haven't heard ever that Lindsay is not a violinist. Never heard either that one that doesn't enjoy or play classical is not a violinist.
I live near Nashville, so none of this is new to me. My teacher earns most of her living from playing in various country and rock-ish ensembles, but she has a classical background, as, I assume, most of these folks do. Considering how much time this forum devotes to warning young musicians that they may end up poverty-stricken if they pursue a music career, it seems a little disingenuous to criticize those who have found a way to earn money doing what they love, even if it's not 100% "pure." :-)
For what it's worth, I think the general warning about pursuing a music career is reinforced, not contradicted, by Lindsay Stirling. She is no less a genius than a winner of the Menuhin Competition; it's just that her genius lies elsewhere than in playing the violin per se. She is an absolutely brilliant marketer, and if she was doing her own early arrangements, those too represent a very high level of ability. Very very few mediocre violinists if any could hope to replicate a Lindsay Stirling career.
Agree with Mary Ellen, but would add, very few violinists could hope to replicate her career, great or mediocre.
Sure. But then there are people like my teacher. She is not of that calibre, and while pretty, isn't going to be doing videos like that. But she has a decent career, albeit almost entirely at this point dedicated to playing in honky tonks and teaching lessons. She seems fulfulled. :-)
Tim yes there's individuality among solo piano performances. You're kind of like a politician -- you read half of something at best and then you twist it into pretzel knots until it's something else entirely. I only said that it's harder for pianists to realize that individuality than it is for violinists because the violin is, intrinsically, a more expressive medium. Hopefully you don't need that mansplained.
Sorry, you said "it's ten times harder", not just "harder" (which is softer). That's a way to say it's much more complicated, in other words, pianists play much more the same than violinists, which I totally disagree. The piano is so expressive and the interpretations, specially of complex pieces, are so different from each other that I couldn't disagree more. May be you're the one reading halfs.
Paul, when you wrestle with the pig, you get dirty and the pig likes it.
Christian - here's Ivry Gitlis wrestling with transience
Better wrestling with transience than wrestling with transients - they have enough problems as it is.
Damn. Just came back to the forum and there are a lot of replies. It's going to take a while to go through them all
And we wonder why 'classical' music has the "snob"
I am not a classical violinist, and tbh my playing is worse than Lindsey's. But it is the misconception that she is the greatest living contemporary violinist that I take issue with. Technique-wise, she isn't, and somehow it's unfair for the classical folks being considered lesser just because they are less well-known or they wouldn't dance when they play.
Christian -- yes, I see what you mean.
I honestly wanted to give her a chance before I heard that video. I thought "ok, here she is with an acoustic violin"...oh but she just can't bear to go without all that excessive reverb and electric frippery, can she? It all just comes across as fake. Also, she doesn't seem to play anything except for really basic pop covers. To me that's boring. I like to be impressed and that doesn't impress me.
Either some of you guys don't read or can't read or are overly dramatic. Yuja can wear those dresses (which I think are terrible) when she parties, but not in a classical concert. Not a big deal, it's inappropriate, wardrobe fail, on purpose of course. High heels on piano, come on. Next topic.
What the world really needs is another version of Hallelujah.
Stirling is not a violin virtuous player , but she is a virtous performer in what she is doing. She would not be able to make those kind of performances if she spent time on learning violin technique at the level of top virtuous players.
I enjoy attending concerts in one of the big concert halls not too far away. Usually my daughter is one of the only youngsters around. Four month ago we enjoyed a concert featuring Yuja Wang. What a pleasure. And what a surprise. The concert hall was filled with young people.
Is it that classically trained violinists have too many gatekeepers? I'm thinking that the life of an aspiring violinist is one of teachers, examiners, audition panels for competitions, audition panels for college, audition panels for orchestras, conductors, critics and so on. All of these saying you can only play the violin a certain narrow way, you can only do this, you can't do that... Along comes Youtube and now there are no gatekeepers between players, such as Lindsey Stirling, and the audience itself. They can now play however they want and find their audience. Audiences are also free to enjoy what they want. To be a gatekeeper to some other person's enjoyment is pure arrogance.
To put it simply, her violin technique is flawed even when not judging on a classical standard. Yes I know it is still sufficient for what she does.
Matt Lawrence wrote:
"There is no flaw if her technique is sufficient for what she does".
There are always potential injury concerns. However, given Stirling's style of music, she'll probably be comfortably retired from the stage long before her technique causes her medical issues.
I don't remember anyone questioning Máiréad Nesbitt's technique. But then her bio suggests she got to a fairly high level as a teenager.
Doesn't Itzhak Perlman do weird things with his thumb in high positions?
Speaking of 'overly-sexualized' performance attire ... We have been blaming women all along, so check out this male violinist (viewer discretion advised - only watch if you are fine with some homoerotica)
Matt, I already came across this guy, but this merman thing... Holy s***!
What's sad is when a young person says to himself or herself, "I'll never be soloist because it's not in my genes to look like so-and-so." That doesn't mean anyone has any specific obligation to be a "role model" but it would still be a negative outcome if young people were deterred from their life's dream because they've got the wrong body type.
Christopher, Perlman's hands and fingers are
Matt: "To put it simply, her violin technique is flawed even when not judging on a classical standard. Yes I know it is still sufficient for what she does"
Demian, I abstained from discussing her techniques in details so as not to enrage her fans further, and to not invite trouble to myself ;). Doing so invariably cause some people to think I am belittling her in some way, while in fact I don't. I highly appreciate her for what she has done outside of techniques.
@Nuuska quite amusing isn't it!
Yes, I get that absolutely. If he wasn't Perlman though there would be some commentators complaining that he didn't have proper technique!
OMG, Matt... that´s a serious amount of undercuts and shaved bodies, indeed. My favourite scene is at 0:20 when that "drunk" blonde guy "awakens" on the bar! And uuh, I´m sure they´re play´n that fiddle hard! :-) Well, we´re living in the 21st century.
Malcolm, I doubt Lola Astanova is taken very seriously in the classical world. She's like a 13 year old boy's pubertal idea of...something, I'm not sure what. I think she would be a little more comfortable if she moved the piano bench closer to the piano, but the vamping self-seriousness of her videos are good for a laugh. I, of course, would never stoop to ogling!
@Nuuska I don't really know :-)
No no, I think Perlman is great and his technique flawless for him. Was just a passing flippant comment to show that we can't always judge a player by how they are living up the rule book on technique. You can't say something like 'that violinist is useless because they have a collapsed wrist'. Of course we tell a student to use the very best technique they can but ultimately it's not everything.
Now that is a really interesting and ergonomic approach to playing the violin! Technically fine playing and musical, too. Note how, like a cellist, he uses his thumb as an extra stop. Also, he bows left-handed on a standard setup violin, with a chin rest in the usual place - not sure why.
Guess a chin rest key wasn't the most urgent topic in his investment plans.
I wonder what kind of BR he uses? (Belly Rest)
I wonder if these last few posts will generate an after-market for BR's or similar devices for holding the violin in that position?
In the first few pages of the Nov. 12 issue of
I'm dead sure a slightly modified Korfker Cradle would make a great BR!
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