American Viola Society Festival and Primrose Competition

Improve Double-Stops with Vamos Technique Exercises for Viola and Violin border=0 align=

Improve Double-Stops with Vamos Technique Exercises for Viola and Violin

July 11, 2018, 1:50 PM · Practicing double-stops can profoundly change and benefit a string player's overall left-hand technique. But how to get started, and how to keep it up?

Double stops were the focus of a lecture called "Double Troubles: on Double Stop Techniques and Pedagogical Approaches," by violists Renate Falkner and Karin Brown, at the 2018 American Viola Society Festival in June at The Colburn School.

Falkner and Brown met as students at Oberlin College, where both studied with Roland and Almita Vamos, the married teaching pair that has produced so many highly accomplished violinists and violists, including Rachel Barton Pine, Jennifer Koh, Benjamin Beilman, Aimee Kreston, Cathy Basrak, Christina Castelli and many more.

"This era at Oberlin in the mid-90s was the Golden Age of the Vamos studio," Falkner said, "we were surrounded by these exceptionally talented musicians."

When it came to violists, Roland Vamos had a firm philosophy: There is no reason that a violist should not play as well as a violinist.

To that end, he put violists on the same rigorous diet of technical studies as violinists, including scales and arpeggios, Schradieck, Dounis, and "a notorious photocopied paper of double-stop exercises based on Korguof." As it turns out, that photocopied paper was a key ingredient.

Brown demonstrated the exercises (a very admirable feat to do live, before an audience of high-level teachers -- well done!)

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How to Help Your Brain Memorize Music, with Molly Gebrian

June 28, 2018, 2:23 PM · What is the best way to memorize music? And how can the science of the brain help us be more effective with memorization?

Molly Gebrian -- who is an expert in both viola and neuroscience -- is the perfect person to investigate the possibilities, which is exactly what she did in a lecture entitled "The Brain and Memorization" at the 2018 American Viola Society Festival at The Colburn School.

One important consideration is the fact that memory is multi-faceted and complex, Gebrian said. When a person says something like, "I have a bad memory" or "I have a good memory," this makes memory sound like a singular quality. In reality, memory has many dimensions.

"There are different kinds of memory that are independent of each other," Gebrian said. Simply speaking, those different kinds include long-term memory, short-term memory and working memory. Long-term memory includes memory for facts and events in your life, as well as "muscle memory." Short-term memory is for remembering things such as phone numbers. Working memory includes memories that are held in one's mind while manipulating that information. One example for musicians of working memory would be remembering accidentals in a piece of music while sight reading it.

How are long-term memories made? Getting information into one's brain involves something called "encoding." The deeper the encoding, the better the memory. "If you don't encode well, you won't remember the information as well." Keep reading...

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'Not Giants, But Windmills' for Viola Ensemble, by Garth Knox

June 19, 2018, 7:01 PM · Here is a live performance from the American Viola Society Festival 2018! Composer Garth Knox wrote "Not Giants, But Windmills" for the festival, on commission from the American Viola Society. Before the performance he explains his inspiration: Don Quixote!

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