SMU Masters/PI vs VTS vs Rondo

Edited: March 13, 2021, 1:13 PM · Hello,

I am currently deciding on where to go for my master's in violin performance. I got into UNT which is where I am currently, and I also was accepted to SMU with an artistic scholarship award. I'm not sure if I got a scholarship from UNT yet as I haven't gotten an acceptance or scholarship letter, but my professor told me I already got in but didn't tell me anything about a scholarship.

My question is if there is anyone who either had the same choice as me or has gone to SMU and could tell me whether or not they liked it. As I already know about UNT most of my questions are about the violin performance program at SMU.

I'm certain that I would be able to improve further at UNT with my current violin professor (Philip Lewis), but I'm also curious about the program at SMU and there's also a good teacher who was recently hired there, Alexander Sitkovetsky.

I've gone back and forth about the pros and cons of both, but it's not as helpful as actually knowing about the program and what people who have gone or currently go there think about it.


If anyone has used PIs, Vision Titanium Solo, or Rondos could they tell me which they preferred and the differences between them? I've used all three before, but I never compared them side by side.

Thank you for any help

Replies (8)

March 13, 2021, 1:54 PM · I don’t think you can make any decisions about where to do your graduate work until you get all the financials from both institutions. There is something to be said for continuing to work with a teacher who is effective; there is also something to be said for getting a different point of view. If one option would put you in crushing debt while the other would not, there’s your decision.
March 13, 2021, 2:10 PM · Mr. Harvey,

All of them are fine-not worth purchasing the 3 to compare side by side. Do you remember which one inspired you the most while practicing and performing? The ones that let you and your instrument make your best music without inhibitions?

I stopped using new Thomastiks after Titanium Solo. So much has changed since then. If I had to choose between Titanium Solo and Dominant, I would go Dominant because the low tension is very nice, and they have their own unique tone. If that is of no concern, I never ever really disliked the Titanium Solo, which do not feel so bad under the fingers, and have a very "thunderous" tone when new (for better or worse-up to you, of course.) The E is expensive but good (very bright, but high quality brilliant, not an ugly tinny thing.)

So many violinists rave about both Pi and Rondo, so you know they are fine synthetics from experience. The advantage of Pi is the many choices for strings to match your instrument and taste, but the price is high. In your place, was I forced only between these three, I would go for VTS to save, with whatever E you love to use. They used to be more expensive when they were a new product, but are now a bargain compared to Pi and Rondo. All of them have a mature, "professional" sound, and all three are used by soloists and serious students.

As you know, the VTS get a bit more tame over time, so if you do not love the initial sound, just keep playing them hard for a week or so. I personally loved even the initial period, and they do last a fairly decent time, if I remember correctly.

You may also ask your teacher(s) eventually, as some of them are more dogmatic than others, and may "suggest" (actually force) you to use something they prefer.

I'll let others give you a more appropriate answer to all your concerns. Enjoy your Master's degree experience!



March 13, 2021, 2:19 PM · i hated vision titaniums - far too bright on my instrument. PIs are great but pricy (and high tension), have never tried rondos.

Have you had a lesson with the teacher you'd be studying with at SMU?

March 13, 2021, 9:02 PM · I can't comment on most of what you asked, but my son had a masterclass with Sasha Sitkovetsky (he goes by Sasha) and it was really, really helpful. One of the better classes he has had. Of course, it's hard to say how he would be as a teacher longterm, but we were quite impressed with him.
March 14, 2021, 9:35 PM · Mary,

Yes, I understand about the financial aspect and that is a significant factor in where I end up going. I was just hoping that someone would know something about the program there, especially if they went there. The tuition at UNT is considerably less than SMU already ($28,580 vs. about $5,000), however with my scholarship I'm willing to pay a little extra if I'll get a better experience there for a master's degree. The scholarship makes tuition only $7,580.


I remember really loving VTS when I first got my new violin because they added brilliance while the violin was opening up. Right now I'm playing on PIs and they are a warmer, more colorful version of VTS, but I do miss the grit I get from the VTS. Rondos are nice as well. They last a while, and I still have my last set on me because I took them off my old violin before trading it because they were maybe a month old before getting my new violin. I loved them on my last violin because they were like dominants, but a little more interesting. I'll have to try them on this violin as well. I think from a purely economical standpoint I would also go with VTS. I can get a set from concord with a gold label E (or some other E) for around $65. Much less than a set of PIs.

My current professor doesn't really care what strings I use so long as they sound good. I think he uses regular Vision solos on his Sanctus Seraphin. Sasha Sitkovetsky I believe currently has Rondos on his violin, but I have no idea if he cares about what strings his students use.


Yes, I've had a lesson with Sasha and he was very helpful. I think if possible I'd like to have another lesson to make sure that he would be a good fit for me.


I've seen him be referred to as Sasha sometimes, but pretty much everywhere I've seen it always says, Alexander. Yeah, he was great at my trial lesson this past November, but I'm not sure how he would be long-term either. That's why I want to see if I can get another lesson with him first to see.

Edited: March 14, 2021, 10:14 PM · Curiously I've never seen anyone who "goes by Sasha" actually use that name in their written biographical sketches or other materials. Maybe it is the Russian version of "Skippy" or something? Sitkovetsky is quite the family name in violin-playing. His forbears were stunningly good violinists as well. Julian Sitkovetsky's recording of the Sibelius is fantastic.
March 15, 2021, 12:44 PM · Sasha is the Russian nickname for Alexander.
Edited: March 15, 2021, 2:17 PM · It is also the diminutive form of Alexandra!

Today's word of the day is "hypocorism".


Mikahil Elman - Mischa (Means "little bear")
Jacob Heifetz - Jascha(Apparently not Joshua)

Not sure about Toscha - Could be Tom, or maybe Anthony
and so on...

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