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Posts posted by DR. S

  1. I once was providing music for a catholic church service in a small town - on viola - a Bach Cello Suite different parts played throughout the service. I don't think I was playing it poorly, I've played parts of them for Yo-Yo Ma and he seemed to like them, but during the postlude a young teenage girl came up and interrupted me, she told me that her Gradnmother was trying to pray and I was bothering her. Kind of the opposite effect I was shooting for. Oh well, the church normally didn't have any music during the service due to lack of resources. Don't know if they ever got any again.

  2. Chris - if you're serious about it, get a new teacher!

    I practice because I love to play. As a studnet I practiced the number of hours I did because I wanted to improve. I find that scheduling performances can be very motivating. Find places to play and go do it. It's the only way to truly learn how to perform and it keeps you working for something.

    Having a teacher that you respect and even perhaps slightly fear going in unprepared to could help.

    And of course I disagree with Krystian. I practice because I like to play, but ever present in my mind is always that desire to perform. I think you must practice preforming, once you've learned the piece you must learn how to perform it.

    [This message has been edited by DR. S (edited 07-31-2000).]

    [This message has been edited by DR. S (edited 07-31-2000).]

  3. If man weren't meant to do any of these things he wouldn't have a brain! I'm so surprised at the threads here. One of the fundamental properties of the nature of man is to expand, to grow, to explore - to boldly go where none has gone before... (sorry got carried away there).

    This is as fundamental as our desire to create music and art and to seek out beauty. From a scientists perspective the same counter arguments could be used to argue against the fine arts. That they do nothing to solve the problems of man here today, and they utilizes resources that could be used to feed the hungry and heal the sick, but this argument too is fundamentally erroneous. What will make us search our collective soul more than facing the Universe. The need to go out there is the same as the need to 'conquer' the violin or a composition of music. Most astronauts I have met are among the most philosophical people on the planet - expecially after they have been in space a few times. It really puts who we are in perspective, and empahsises the miraculous frailty of our planet and our lives.

    HKV has a point in that we must learn to stop doing harm to our planet and those who occupy it (and other planets), but the truth is that so far we have done much more to threaten ourselves than the planet (if we disappeared off the face of the earth, the planet would recover in but a blink of the eye, not that this justifies anything, but if those who poopoo environmentalism realized this, they might temper their stand).

    The Universe is unlimited in it's resources at least for the next 10's of billions of years if we utilize them in a wholistic and respectful manner. Man was given the tools to utilize these. We just have the responsibility to do so in a respectful manner.

    [This message has been edited by DR. S (edited 08-03-2000).]

  4. Great thread DM! I put the butter in the batter and only put pure maple syrup on my waffles. This type of objective self analysis you seem to have a gift for, is a tremendously valuable tool that will allow you to grow and expand in any direction you wish to go.

    Perhaps the best approach is moderation in all things. If something becomes so traditionalized (is that a word?) that it becomes a contraint on your abilities, then you need to open it up.

    Next time, butter one waffle like you traditionally do, and one like your Mother, then do a third right in the middle.

    Such self discipline and attention to detail is tremendous for learning a new piece and developing technique, but you must be able to move beyond it to make music project to your audience. You need to be DM and DM's Mother.

  5. Okay, Okay. I never meant to say that the viola is 'just' a small violin, however I will stick by my statement that at least technically speaking, there is no reason except in extreme cases that someone cannot play both quite easily (I'm sorry but learning a new clef is a matter of weeks or a few months at most before they don't even notice it as a 'new' clef, the human mind is marvelous at adapting).

    I also do not argue with the fact that the viola can certainly be more appealling to many than the violin. My wife far prefers my viola paractice sessions to my violin sessions, though I find the violin far easier to play well, even intonation. And I personally do have an affinity for the sound of the viola and I do approach the instruments in a slightly different way as well going more for sound and sonority on the viola and brilliance on the violin.

    The lack of competition in the viola world is a point that attracts many players, but is this necessarily good for an aspiring musician? It is a very competitive world out there for the few good jobs that exist. Many if not most of the violists in major symphonies played violin for much of their development as violinists and switched to viola during college or even during their professional careers. Many 'true' violists as you would put it, cannot compete with this technical prowess that was developed on the violin.

    My point is not to dabate the wonderful qualities of the viola or even the fact that many students find they prefer it, but my question is, is it the best thing for them to cut their technical teeth on this instrument. I once read about one of the famous old violists (not Primrose, but I can't recall who at this point)who did all his warm ups and technical practice on the violin and then pulled out the viola for repertoire practice. I think his point was that he needed to feel that technical fluidity and agility of the violin so that he would not allow himself to get bogged down in the relative cumbersomeness of the viola.

    I know that my recent foray into playing the violin has definitely improved my viola playing. I am accomplishing things technically on the viola that I did not achieve even in my 'prime' as a professional violist. My mental scope of what is possible has been opened up considerably.

  6. Along the same lines as my Great Violist thread, here is a topic I'd like to hear your opinions on.

    I contend there is no reason, and nothing to be gained by starting an average beginner on viola as I was. My reasoning is thus:

    Violin is easier to play (i.e. smaller more agile),the student will progress faster on violin. If the student turns out to be talented and dedicated and starts playing in school orchestras and such, then as a violinist they will be challenged at a higher level sooner, while the violas are still playing off beats and quarter notes in first postion. The whole outlook on playing the instrument develops diferently.

    As the years go on, this disparity grows and widens the gap between what the violist is expected to be able to do and what the violinist is expected to accomplish.

    I further contend that students are started on viola for the convenience of the school orchestra and not for the benefit of the child. Would it not be better to eventually teach - even require the violinists to learn to play viola and take turns playing viola in the school orchestras? Eventually some will come to prefer this instrument and will choose it on their own, but a complete dedication to one or the other should not occur until technique is quite well developed, especially in promising students who seem to be leaning toward career aspirations.

  7. Don't be too scared to take it to a repair shop, having new pegs fitted should not break the bank, and is a fairly stright forward process. The luthier should be able to give you a firm price to fix it before you leave it, so you know what you are getting into.

  8. My new violin (made in '81, but ist sold to me) was named by the maker. He knew it was special so he named it after his wife (no it's not red!), out of respect of this recently departed friend and maker it shall always be named Anne.

    My viola, the poor beast, has no name, but we have a great relationship. I guess a good name would have to be powerful and masculine as that describes the sound of my instrument.

  9. I know I'm a heathen, but most Opera bores me to tears, expecially with over the hill flabby voiced soprano's - now that can make me cry! Bruckner too if I'm not in the mood.

    Seriously, I'm more moved by the power and passion of say Beethoven's 5th 1st mvnt, or the scherzo of the 9th. The unexplainable etherial beauty and simplicity or the slow mvnt of the 7th can put a lump in my throat as well.

    Here's my silly one - Dan Fogleburg (spelling?) Leader of the Band. Not sure why, it doesn't strike home in any way, it just gets me. Tributes to Fathers like that are so rare.

  10. I'm not saying it can't be done, I did it as well, but I am absolutely sure that I would be a better instrumentalist, technically, if I had played mostly violin for my first 10 years or so.

    In my case, and at least partly because I was a violist, no one made me practice a scale or an etude, or hold the instrumnet of bow properly until I was 18.

  11. Oy Oy,

    If you recall her name, post it or send it to me e-mail. I would really look forward to prodigy on the viola!

    Everyone please note. I did not say I haven't heard good viola playing - I have lots of great recordings, it just seems so much harder to find the live preformances - because there are so many fewer great ones out there. I appreaciate the list of names. I'll keep a look out for these.


    [This message has been edited by DR. S (edited 07-28-2000).]

  12. Okay Lydia,

    The path from music to engineering was not a clear cut one. I believe first I got disenchanted with the music profession. I just met too many pro's who were doing the things that I aspired to do, but who were unhappy doing it. Many fellow students who graduated and went on to major orchestra postitions brought back horror stories of what it was like. I could not subject my love of music, the passion on my life to this mistreatment.

    There were other fators, frustration in achieveing the skill level I wanted to achieve (nothing new here). A bit of a feeling of being an outsider and a disagreement with the Juilliard Administration about how many years I needed to spend there to get my masters also helped.

    I decided that I could do something else and always keep music as a part of my life, and this way I feel that I preserved this joy. So I started taking some classes at a local state university and ended up in Engineering. 20 years later, althought there are times that I would definitely rather be playing my instrument, I do think I made a wise decision. The great thing about engineering is that you get such a great perception about how the world operates physically.

    My sharpest pangs of regret come when I occassionally wonder how good I could have been. I guess there is something to be said forlooking back on your life and being able to say you at least strived to reach your potential at something. But regardless, I do know that my love of playing is undiminished and I have the luxury of doing it for fun and never have to feel the tedium of a job associated with my music making.

  13. I have experienced this same phenomenom that Huang may have faced yesterday. While I lived in New York, I noticed that the audience knew how to get an encore (i.e. sustain the applause long enough), something they have not learned in Texas. The audience likes encores, it's a bonus, and often they are played better than the programmed works, so even if the concert was mediocre, the audience still wants the encores.

    I have seen many concerts like this where the audience response was lukewarm, but the polite applause was sustained long enough to secure an encore.

  14. What makes me angry are people who want me to listen to their 'rap'un-music from their car stereo when I'm driving in my car! Especially when they have the giant woofers and amplifiers so they can make sure I can feel it 3 blocks away. I almost want to get violent.

    My only consolation is to know that if they keep it up long enough they will be inflicting permanent brain damage to themselves, not to mention ear damage.

  15. I began playing viola over 30 years ago and have played it seriously ever since (I finally added violin to my instrument list just 3 years ago), but to this day, outside of sitting in on a viola competition in New York City, I have never heard a respectable viola recital or concerto played live.

    Granted, live public viola performances by nationally recognized performers are rare (especially where I live). But I've heard principle violists of major symphonies butcher some of the simpler concertos. I saw one world famous violist twice, and both times she played an extremely elementary program horribly (speaking in terms of musicality, tone, intonation, facility).

    I've heard good recordings, I've seen Zuckerman on T.V. play the instrument very well, I tried to get tickets to see Neubauer but it was sold out, but every solo recital or concerto performance I have managed to make was less than satisfying (a shared opinion with all that saw it with me).

    I love the instrument, the masculine rich sound, but is the cliche' true, that the instrument just isn't suited for solo playing or have I just been unlucky in who I've heard.

    My thread here is not to bash viola playing in general, I have heard a lot of good viola playing in orchestras and chamber music, but just not as a solo instrument, at least not at the level of the world class violinists and cellists around. There certainly is worthy repertoire (Bartok, Hindemith, Walton, Brahms etc, so where are the players?

  16. Standard reply but still valid:

    1. Beethoven

    1.000001 Bach

    4. Mozart


    The big three still reign supreme.

    Now somtimes when I am listening to Brahms or someone else I think I like them best, but that's just the passion of the moment.

    Hey, how about Schikele, or is it PDQ Bach?

  17. Part of the ideal upgrade aim is definitely not to move to an instrument that is harder to play - how can you sound better? The tome quality of the instrument (within reason) is only a part of the total effect one gets when playing an instrument. I chose my current instrument over one that had a larger richer sound - not that there was anything wrong with the sound of the one I selected, but I played this instrument so much better, that the net result was much more pleasing for both the player and audience. I still receive comments on the instruments sound everytime I play it in public.