Perfect Pitch training app. Looking for feedback

Edited: April 23, 2020, 1:29 AM · Hi, my name is Dmitry. I play fingerstyle guitar and I am self-learning to play violin. I am also a indie iOS developer and I build apps for musicians. My latest app is a perfect pitch training app. The app is currently in the Beta testing phase. I am currently looking for beta testers who can give me valuable feedback. I saw a discussion here on this forum about PP, so I thought maybe there is someone who would be interested to try the app.

If you interested, you can join the testing using this link. https://testflight.apple.com/join/3zp30Bg6

It is completely free, btw.

If you join, please write a comment so I know that my post here made sense.

Best wishes,
Dmitry

Replies (51)

April 23, 2020, 7:02 AM · Pfft. Apple. Let us know when you have something for Android.
April 23, 2020, 7:10 AM · I second Paul's comment. I would like to try it out but don't have an Apple device.
April 23, 2020, 9:53 AM · Let me know when you have an app for untraining it!! I'll be the first to try
April 23, 2020, 10:52 AM · Android user here.
I tried several times in vain by other means. I think I can't do it. Too old
April 23, 2020, 11:44 AM · Hi, I’d rather not give TestFlight permission to send me beta-versions of all kinds of apps, all the time, so I won’t participate.
But once the app is established, I would appreciate it if you could give us a note, here, again.

I will be curious to give it a try - myself being an extreme case of relative pitch. You can fool me about pitch after a couple of half tones, already!

I can sometimes identify notes played on a violin, but this relies to 100% on the tone quality (open strings, etc).
If a violin is tuned differently, I won’t notice, at all, maybe unless it is my own violin, plus I am the one playing.

April 23, 2020, 12:21 PM · Emily F, TestFlight will not get permission to send you all kinds of apps. It will only send you the apps that you decided to test. And you can stop testing any app at any time. Just go to the TestFlight and for the corresponding app, tap on "Stop testing" button. After that you will not see any notification about this app.
April 23, 2020, 12:28 PM · For now only a iOS version. No android. Sorry. I am working on my own and don't have time to build for two platforms simultaneously. Maybe later..
April 23, 2020, 3:42 PM · Just wondering... OP, do you already have perfect pitch, or did you manage to gain it after using the app?
April 23, 2020, 4:39 PM · Good question, James Dong. No, I don't have PP. Partially, I have build the app for myself and my kids. It is not a complex app in terms of implementation. It took me about 3 month to build it. My kids and I just started to practice using the app about 2 weeks ago when the app was in a somewhat finished state. So speaking of my own progress: currently I can not instantly identify a pitch that is played to me, but I found out that I can quite accurately recall some pitches without any previous tonic preparation. F note for some reason is the simplest for me to recall. Also my younger daughter (4 yo) could reproduce very accurately the sequence G-A-B-C. So the results for now are far from the real Perfect Pitch but it looks like there are some positive progress.
April 23, 2020, 6:29 PM · @Emily F -- I can verify what Dmitry is saying. I'm a beta tester for one single iOS app, and they use TestFlight and I have never gotten anything from TestFlight other than notification that a newer version of the single app I'm beta-testing is ready to install. They don't randomly send people beta versions of software they're not signed up to test.
April 25, 2020, 3:14 AM · I just released the app. It is now available on the App Store https://apps.apple.com/us/app/absolute-develop-perfect-pitch/id1497780766
April 25, 2020, 4:16 AM · I don't have PP but I'm unsure if it's a blessing or a curse. Many musicians with PP report their discomfort when obliged to play at a pitch removed from the one they are "perfect" with. I were you I wouldn't inflict it on any impressionable person without a lot of thought.
April 25, 2020, 8:10 AM · Steve I've seen numerous talented musicians who are aided by the gift of perfect pitch. Not that you can't be a talented musician without it, but I think it's quite a useful skill, perhaps not without a downside as you suggest, but what in life comes without a downside?
Edited: April 25, 2020, 10:38 AM · Note Bruno Lunkes's post above! I guess it depends what you want to do with your musical life, but by the time you're mature enough to make an informed choice it's probably too late to acquire more than a very partial PP. I can't help thinking most of us evolved (or acquired) a floating relative pitch system for a good reason. Singing in a not-very-good a capella choir must be agony for anyone with PP.
April 25, 2020, 10:31 AM · My perfect pitch used to be perfect, but now it's definitely rusty. But it isn't just musicians that have it - Apparently police employees can recognise when the pitch the equipment they use gives is different from usual.
Edited: April 25, 2020, 10:42 AM · That is interesting. I've often wondered if it's a talent that most people are born with but that exposure to music of variable pitch usually erodes. Many people think PP is the ability to name notes, but of course that can only come with experience.
Edited: April 25, 2020, 11:18 PM · Time spent chasing perfect pitch is time better spent working with a metronome, working on bow distribution, shifting, double stops, memorization, scales, vibrato, spicatto.

Pitch is not fixed by nature--it is entirely relative, like a cubit or acre. Therefore we cannot be born with it. We CAN be born with the ability to remember the pitches and their associated letters names. Is it useful? Maybe. But no one ever lost an audition because they didn't have pitch identification.

Perfect pitch? It's like working really, really hard to learn to ride a unicycle. Ok,mazeltov--you can ride a unicycle. So?

Edited: April 25, 2020, 12:21 PM · We can be born by the ability to remembetr the pitches and their associated letters names.

Indeed. My challenge is that I grew up in a world that uses solfege, but learning to play the violin in a world that is using A-G. If I mention Ré, people look at me as if I had 2 heads! I cannot even say Do, Ré, Mi without their associated pitch, whereas I do not associate any pitch what-so-ever with C, D, E... It's a complete remap of my brain, which does impact on my learning. It took me years to overcome it, hence PP is also cultural in a way.

April 25, 2020, 1:05 PM · @Scott - I agree that the pursuit of PP is unlikely to be profitable. Colour isn't fixed by physics but it is fixed by nature. Pitch isn't fixed by physics either, but nature..? Those of us without PP may be just like the colour-blind...
Edited: April 25, 2020, 9:57 PM · PP is definitely a curse. Specially considering I also play baroque violin. It is a mental puzzle everytime I have to play in a different pitch, or whenever I have to transpose something. Don't even get me started on playing chamber music... There really is no much use other than being able to tell what was the pitch of a honk. I regret having trained it!!! I'd much rather have a strong relative pitch.
Edited: April 26, 2020, 2:51 AM · This is a crazy idea. Perfect pitch is a silly concept, a party trick, and the equivalent of having an amplifier that goes to 11 rather than 10 (if you're familiar with the joke).

Especially young violinists get fixated on this idea that you're a step ahead if you can claim perfect pitch, and you could try and sell this app to those kids. It usually indicates they do not have a good teacher who could tell them relative pitch is what you need. Also known as playing in tune, with yourself and others. Maybe they're even self-taught (like you are) and heading for nowheresville, so good luck with making money off these kids!

April 26, 2020, 5:09 AM · Before starting to work on the app, during the research phase on the subject, I read tons of posts on different forums where people were arguing whether PP is a blessing or curse. I don't have any desire to participate in this kind of discussion. Partly because I don't have perfect pitch myself, and can not currently fully estimate all the pros and cons of having this ability. So I could only give my current personal opinions about the subject which could change in future.

1. I see some logic when people say that PP can be a disadvantage with some music activities, like playing in a not-standard tuning, or playing a transposing instrument.

2. Without any thoughts of belittling other music specialities, I think most will agree that the highest form of manifestation of music talent is music composition. While we can not say for sure whether the possession of PP was a prerequisite or the result of having a great music talent, we can not deny that many great composers had(have) this ability.

3. I don't see how having PP could conflict with or prevent you from acquiring RP. I don't know any musician who has PP and doesn't have RP. Quite the opposite. The few musicians with PP I know personally, have mind-blowing abilities related to the relative pitch and harmonical hearing.

I was not trying to persuade someone here to buy my app nor claiming that all musicians should strive to develop PP. I simply saw that there was some interest in the subject in the forum and thought that I could find someone here who already has experience with methods used to develop the ability, and probably will give me some valuable feedback.

April 26, 2020, 8:31 AM · I agree with Scott. Perfect pitch and a dollar buys you a coke.
April 26, 2020, 11:10 AM · “I think most will agree that the highest form of manifestation of music talent is music composition.”

That’s ridiculous.

Edited: April 26, 2020, 1:14 PM · Dmitry wrote:
"I don't see how having PP could conflict with or prevent you from acquiring RP."
______________________

It doesn't, except when it does. A different tuning can present a huge challenge to those who have learned their "perfect pitch" and note names around a particular frequency, which includes just about everyone with "perfect pitch".

I was mostly a violinist, but played B-flat trumpet in the middle school band. What a nightmare! The pitches I needed to produce did not correspond with the notes written on the page.

What I would recommend is that people work on their RELATIVE pitch skills, since in every musical format, what really matters is tuning notes to pitches produced by other performers around them, or by oneself, and this has little or nothing to do with some sort of univeral "correct pitch" notion, however one would wish to define this.

I happened to be one who was either blessed or cursed with "perfect pitch". It had some advantages, like being able to tune to a 440 A without any reference like a tuning fork, or being able to call out any chord or key, as long as it was based on 430 to to 445. But it went downhill from there. When tunings started to approach a half-step off from what I had learned, I was at a huge disadvantage.

April 26, 2020, 12:45 PM · I've stated my opinion on PP on many previous threads, but I'll repeat it again. PP is NOT just a party trick. Is it necessary in order to succeed in today's musical world? Absolutely not. But to deny that being able to hear pitches at command in your head is not helpful is completely wrong. Imagine you are practising a concerto or sonata at home, and you are able to hear all the notes of the orchestra or piano part. Not only is it extremely pleasurable to have a virtual practice partner in 'HD', but hearing the exact harmony in all parts can positively influence your decision making.

This honestly feels like a new far-left movement I want to call 'perfect-pitch shaming'...

April 26, 2020, 1:18 PM · "But to deny that being able to hear pitches at command in your head is not helpful is completely wrong."

It can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation.

"Imagine you are practising a concerto or sonata at home, and you are able to hear all the notes of the orchestra or piano part."

Only relative pitch is required for that.

April 26, 2020, 4:42 PM · "3. I don't see how having PP could conflict with or prevent you from acquiring RP. "
Well, it does. There are several articles on the subject, just take a look at JSTOR. It doesn't happen to everyone, but most of PP people I know, including myself, have at least some trouble with RP.
April 26, 2020, 5:55 PM · How does someone who has perfect pitch play *both* scale passages AND double-stops?

I don't think there is perfect-pitch shaming, but I'll tell you what: I think there's plenty of perfect-pitch lying and perfect-pitch exaggerating to go around.

April 26, 2020, 8:10 PM · I don't think perfect pitch is all that relevant to composition either. It's much more important to think in terms of what is idiomatic for each instrument.

I compose a little, and used to be active on a now-defunct composers' forum that included multiple professional composers and future professional composers. Only two or three active members of that forum had perfect pitch, and only one of those was ever paid to compose music.

April 26, 2020, 9:43 PM · To Dmitry and your request for feedback, I can't see your app since it's on iOS but I can share some thoughts based on my limited experience and interest in this subject.

I used another PP app and eventually got "perfect" at a single-note test using the piano setting of that app. Interestingly when I tried to test my new skill using the app's interval testing setting (designed for relative pitch but my aim here was to extend PP testing), it took a while again before I could get good at this level. So my initial training was clearly not perfect and it only worked in a relatively simple setting.

The next level of test was to try the app's guitar setting, and this new sound was a new challenge. Other people have commented in other posts how they have a limited perfect pitch that is timbre-specific, so this was not surprising. I wonder if your app included several different instrument settings if there would be some point when mastering enough of these would lead to an extended perception that wasn't timbre-specific. I don't know but I doubt it.

One other thing that I found very helpful was the other direction - rather than listening and naming a note, I would try to sing a given note. When I practiced this with more consistency, I found it did translate to some extent beyond the app, e.g. to our piano at home, or some sounds in the house that weren't music per se. I did this exercise in conjunction with the app. It seemed to add a new dimension but I don't know if it would have been harder without the app training or would have been sufficient by itself.

The only other thought I would add is I remember early on seeing some improvement then plateauing, and in particular I could get confused by certain neighboring tones (e.g. C / C#). In relative pitch training there are recommendations to listen for the interval you know from a popular song. This can also be done with perfect pitch.

Like Dmitry I am not interested in arguing the pros and cons of PP. Seems everyone already has their mind made up on this site. So my comments are strictly meant as hopefully helpful food for thought for Dmitry and anyone interested.

Edited: April 27, 2020, 2:22 AM · Having been first to raise the hare I'm enjoying following the hunt! I'm sure all strong opinions as to the value and disadvantages of PP are honestly held, but am happy myself to remain on the fence. It seems to be pretty well established that PP isn't necessary in order to be a competent musician of any species, but for several years I turned the pages for a very fine violinist and orchestral leader who took great glee in giving the A to the strings (or any note to the conductor) from memory. Her cheerful commitment to an orchestra of amateurs clearly showed she was also able to tolerate standards of tuning far below those she would more often be in contact with. It was as if she could choose to exploit her PP or ignore it at will.

We still don't know what the possession of PP really means in neurophysiological terms. Colour vision is a very imperfect analogy, since there we have the three different cone types in the retina as a clue (how that actually gives rise to the huge range of colours that we have a near-perfect memory for is still a big question). Our apparently "perfect" memory for hundreds of tastes seems to be even more remote from PP. Clearly we don't have a specific receptor type for every taste-characteristic chemical that passes our lips, although as in the case of vision partially specific receptor types do exist.

In the case of pitch sensation, however, the role of the peripheral receptor is even more contentious. The cochlea performs a kind of spectral breakdown but at a very rough degree of resolution; how that translates into such a finely tuned sensitivity for pitch and the interval between pitches must be a consequence of the subsequent processing that goes on in the brain. About which I could rabbit on all day.

As to whether PP is innate or acquired I think John Rokos's observation that some people (policemen!) without any musical training (?) can possess it is a crucial clue, together with other evidence strongly suggesting to me that for musicians it's an innate capability that is hard to train in, more often (in early years) trained out while floating relative pitch (that we're also born with) is further trained in and intellectualised.

I think we can see how this could be a consequence of social conditioning. Young children are often sung to by their mothers, and most mothers probably don't have PP because they were sung to by their mothers... Children are therefore likely to be sung the same songs at different pitches and in order to be able to join in have to forget or suppress any memory of what pitch they heard the song sung at in the past.

What is more likely to be "useful" in later musical life, perfect memory for pitch or perfect flexibility which enables you to join in with others? Isn't it rather cool that given a lead almost all of us are able to transpose a song into any other key, although we may not know what key we're in or even what a "key" is?

April 27, 2020, 2:38 AM · I think that the topicstarter could have been familiar with the discussion about PP develop on the site http://www.musicforums.ru, which took 5 streams from 2008 until its natural death in 2016(!), when it finally became clear that NO ONE of the participants didn't get PP using materials on its development from D. Burge and P. Berezhansky. In other words, it turned out PRACTICALLY that it was A BLUFF! However, there was evidence that some participants in the streams used these materials with young children (2–3 years of age) with a positive result.Conclusion: the one who writes and reads this was late for the train!
Edited: April 30, 2020, 10:13 AM · As I mentioned above, I have a very strong relative pitch. No way, that can be lost. I am so focused on intervals, even as a young child, I could name every interval, easily, because they have always meant so much to me.

There are occasions, though, when I regret not having PP. On the piano, for example, you don't have diferent qualities of tone (as open strings vs. fingered notes etc.). And there exist pieces, where a passage is repeated a half note higher after some other section in between. I would have loved to at least estimate what kind of an experience this must be for someone with PP. I simply don't hear the difference, at all.

And, sometimes I have to play some really weird music, in the orchestra, with big jumps from down on the G-string to directly high on the E-string. Or find a high note that must be played after some rest bars during which the orchestra plays some very complicated contemporary harmonies. It takes me considerably longer to find such a note. I have to remember who is playing what and memorize what is their last note and calculate which interval I have to add in order to find my note.
Or, the beginning of the solo sonata by Bartok: It also contains greats jumps, that took me very long to remember. With PP, I would have known what to look for.

So, at least on my own instrument, it would be nice to know the pitch better than I do.

April 30, 2020, 4:12 PM · James,
I'm not "anti perfect pitch." No shaming involved here. This is what I'm saying: if you have it or acquire it quickly somehow, fine. But there are far too many other skills we need to have to be successful musicians. It's just too far down the list. As I always point out, perfect intonation doesn't depend on matching some frequency that you've learned, but depends on playing the violin in tune with itself, no matter the specific tuning. Your violin pitch can rise or fall during a concert. That's where timbre sensitivity comes into play.

What I'm against is simply wasting time on the project. It's the same for using a shoulder rest or not using one. I'm neither pro nor against--do as you like. Just don't waste time and effort when you should be focusing on so much more.

April 30, 2020, 5:07 PM · Scott, I agree that there are many other skills which are more important in order to become a successful musician. I suppose it's the kind of snarky comments that people like to make such as:

'Perfect pitch? It's like working really, really hard to learn to ride a unicycle. Ok,mazeltov--you can ride a unicycle. So?'

I don't think anyone actually believes that the usefulness of having perfect pitch as a musician is equal to the usefulness of being able to ride a unicycle as a human being. Obviously I'm nitpicking here, but I just don't like these kind of manipulative comments.

I do agree with you that it is a waste of to try and attain it though.

April 30, 2020, 6:16 PM · "'Perfect pitch? It's like working really, really hard to learn to ride a unicycle. Ok,mazeltov--you can ride a unicycle. So?'"

Who would say such a thing?
Weird.

April 30, 2020, 7:04 PM · Scott, do you have a problem with me? I don't understand why people on violinist.com feel the need to write so sarcastically nowadays.

I was using your comment as an example, but I specifically wrote:

-- comments 'people' like to make --

in order to show that I was not just trying to target you.

April 30, 2020, 9:25 PM · James is right. I had a snarky line too. "Perfect pitch and a dollar buys you a coke."

Everyone's a little high-strung these days. Need to chill.

Edited: May 1, 2020, 1:24 AM · Actually Paul, I wasn't referring to you, but rather Herman West. I know by now that that's simply the way you write, so it never surprises me nor rubs off the wrong way on me.
Still, I find it hard to read you sometimes. I assume with your last sentence that you are counter-using the 'everyone' thing against me, but there is always 5% in me that is not entirely sure.

In any case, I admit I do get high-strung about these kind of issues since 'musically speaking' I identify as fairly right wing, which unfortunately leads me to disagree with most people here on most topics.

May 1, 2020, 5:17 AM · James in an earlier comment you wrote something about being able to "hear" the accompanying harmony lines while practicing a solo part, as being connected to perfect pitch. Isn't relative pitch enough for that?
Edited: May 4, 2020, 5:21 AM · I think it depends on how many lines there are at the same time, and the complexity of each line. If one trains relative pitch to the highest level, then it will definitely be enough to help them in this area. The problem is that it requires much more work, and it's work that few have had the opportunity to study, and are willing to put in the effort.

I guess what I am trying to explain is something far deeper than simply having PP or not. I would call it 'perfect processing', which is the ability to hear every individual line and its relationship to another, and then also to fully understand the harmonic relationships and be able to replicate them through basic composition in the form of 'write a piece in the style of xyz', and self identify if something they write does not make sense.

Of course people with relative pitch can have perfect processing, but from the many friends and colleagues I have had, those with perfect pitch had a much higher chance of having it since they need to spend far less effort to have the same level of audio clarity in the brain, while only 1 person I know with relative pitch has it.

This probably all sounds like rubbish, but the simplest way I like to test is to ask a musician to imagine a very famous random tune which they themselves have played, so let's say I am asking a violinist to imagine the first 4 bars of the second theme of Brahms concerto 1st mvt where the orchestra joins the violin, who begins on G#. Assuming they have a very basic level of piano, I would ask them to play the accompaniment at a speed which they feel comfortable. Maybe I would ask them to play the bassline. If they answered F# E D C# then that's a great start, but that's the bare minimum. If they could also fill in some middle voices, that would be a step up. Then if they could correctly identify all the notes in each chord (correct inversion not necessary, as that would be perfect memory rather than processing) they would be a candidate for sure. Now if someone could do the same but without piano, then I would consider them to have perfect processing since they would be able to hear any melody and its correct corresponding harmony at will.

Few people with perfect pitch would be able to pass that above test, but I would imagine that those with basic relative pitch would be even fewer. On the surface it sounds so trivial... I mean how hard could it be to know 4 of the greatest and most famous bars of violin repertoire? But really it's quite difficult. So if you don't know the harmonic content of these bars, but you practised the entire piece before or heard it several times, did you really understand the music in a way that helped you play the piece?

May 2, 2020, 12:16 PM · Just came across this, fun to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v458FSAhYfM
May 2, 2020, 1:49 PM · I have perfect pitch and I find it very useful when I have to pick high notes out of nowhere - I know what I'm aiming for. Also got me through theory class dictations without having to work that much. I've never had a problem adjusting to the pitch around me. Transposing is weird and hard for me, but I don't actually ever have to do it, so..
May 3, 2020, 3:49 PM · I don't get it. Someone posts looking for feedback on their perfect pitch training app, and a whole bunch of people turn up to opine about how they think perfect pitch is a curse, or not worth training. Why? Especially if you don't have perfect pitch yourself, why the need to make a bunch of opinion-based assertions to dismiss the entire idea?
Edited: May 3, 2020, 4:07 PM · Exactly. How can I possibly take anyone's opinion seriously if they dismiss the entire idea with nothing but criticism without actually having perfect pitch? Sorry that this is one of the first threads you've had to see Oisin...
May 3, 2020, 4:59 PM · Lately some threads are morphing from discussions into tournaments; is it the weather, or global events? Expect a variety of opinions, and you will never be disappointed!
May 3, 2020, 5:19 PM · Thanks James, your earlier post was refreshing (and I'm stealing the phrase "perfect-pitch shaming" :).

Erin - "morphing from discussions into tournaments" is a great way to put it! I've certainly seen a similar effect on Twitter, where as soon as people say anything, they're shouted down by the crowd. Perhaps it is restlessness over all the lockdowns, or maybe it's just an unfortunate property of social media.

Edited: May 4, 2020, 2:47 AM · Well James and Oisin, if we all stuck rigidly to the topic there'd be no discussion at all. Another forum I occasionally contribute to is rigorously policed by the moderators, with the effect that the level of discussion rarely rises above the trivial.

In my view the phrase "perfect-pitch shaming" is nonsense. Nobody is shaming those who possess perfect pitch, we are simply and honestly discussing its desirability. Yes, we have to endure the odd snarky comment, but as long as it doesn't extend to personal abuse that's no great burden.

According to my old boss "those who disagree with us are our greatest friends".

May 4, 2020, 6:17 AM · Steve, I think there has been a difference between the comments from the people 'against' me. Some have simply said that it's 'a party trick' or other things which detail it's uselessness. It's much harder for me to make my points clear since I am literally against the entire field here... On the other hand, Jean Dubuisson asks why I think the way I do, and I gladly explain. Isn't that a better discussion? As for my comment about perfect pitch shaming, yes I agree that shaming is not actually taking place, but it almost feels like it. Perhaps, perfect pitch belittling. Anyway that's why I was very careful to phrase it the way I did: 'This honestly feels like a new far-left movement I want to call 'perfect-pitch shaming'...' Using words like 'want' and 'feel', I try to give the impression that it's all hypothetical, and that I was just thinking out loud. But I probably won't do that again, just like I won't mention Jordan Peterson's name...

At the end of the day I think there is just a lot of confusion because there are actually 2 discussions occurring simultaneously here and as result I'm agreeing and disagreeing at the same time...

1. Is it worth training on this app to gain perfect pitch?
My answer is no, because it's almost certainly far too late. Also, as others have mentioned, your time is far better spent honing other skills.

2.Is perfect pitch more overall more useful than relative pitch?
My answer is yes, as explained in the above post. It's not useful enough to make you a better musician, but I believe it is a small advantage that can make life easier on our journey towards becoming one.

Edited: May 4, 2020, 7:33 AM · James - It's easy to get sucked into these debates where as much foolishness is written as sense. I certainly agree with you that PP is far more than just a "party trick". I simply wouldn't give any credence to someone who thinks everything outside their own experience is chicanery

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