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Posts posted by DR. S

  1. I like this one better.  As much due to the very good accompaniment as the style of the performance.  Sparkles more.




    Not dissing the Hahn performance at all.  Just love this one. Many traditionalists may not think it is stylistically valid, but I like Mozart with lots of energy and sparkle.  And the use of modern style with older music is a topic all of it's own.  Personally whle I find 'period' performances interesting, after a while they get boring and stale.   I can live without hearing another Mozart or Beethoven piano concert on a period instrument which frankly sounds exactly like it is being played on someone's grandmother's spinnet.


    I think Mozart or Beethoven, if they heard a modern Steinway, would absolutely think you were crazy to use their instruments. 

  2. When I was in New York, the NYP was not so good.  It was a demoralized group who hated their conductor and in a good part eachother.   So saying the Juilliard Orchestra, in 1980, was better was not like saying the Shepherd School Orchestra, 2013, is better than the Berliner.   The point was that many Conservatory Orchestras do often give top flight performances.  However, there is more to a peformance quality than technical specs of intonation, etc.   There is enthusiasm and musical expression that also come into play.   I really liked this Shepherd School Performance.

  3. Stephen, that is a FANTASTIC performance.   Often the very best orchestral performances come out of the Universities and Conservatories, more detail rehearsal time, highly motivated, excited as well as skilled intrumnetalists.  When I was at Juilliard, it was widely accepted by the most msuically saavy that the very best perfromances one could go to in NYC were those of the Juilliard Orchestra.

    Crazy Jane - Lin is and has been in the very top echelon for decades.   He was a student when I was at Juilliard, and even then, (we called him Jimmy then) we knew he was very special - along with David Kim and Nadia Sonnenberg-Salierno (sp).  I saw a peformance of Isaac Stern and Friends where Stern had Lin play a double concerto with him (Bach I think).    Lin played circles around Stern, which, to Stern's credit, never made him shy away from inviting the best yound talent he came across for his concerts - he was a great man and mentor, but well into his twilight years as a violinist. 

  4. I strongly recommend that you proceed.  Mozart as well as Haydn, Stamitz, Beethoven, and other classical composers of the time wrote music that on the surface does not always seem that difficult, notewise.   But the difficutly is in the control and finesse needed to pull it off well, and thus is the wonderful learning opportunity to study a work that has notes you can technically manage but will stretch your musical and bow control abilities to beyond your limits.  It is very cerebral music and requires such a touch to make it dance and soar as it should.  Go for it, but be a watchmaker, not a blacksmith.   My orchestral skills were honed in college by a brilliant conductor who used Mozart extensively for the same reasons to train his orchestras in dynamcis, instant response, clean notes, and to think, move, and breath as a single organism. 


    Find recordings of Jose Luis Garcia and the English Chamber Orchestra.  In my opinion he/they were among the best authorities in these works. 

  5. I often wondered how anyone could possibly do this, until the day I did it.  Lots of gigs, lots of equipment, in a hurry, set stuff of the ground, opened the trunk, put the stuff in, jumped in the car to drive off to my next engagement.  Luckily a colleque was just a minute or two behind me, in the same (luckily) remote/lttile used parking lot, saw my instrument sitting there and picked it up and called me that they had it.  I still had not realized I had left it.  My heart practically stopped when I realized what I had done.  Once in almost 50 years is a pretty good percentage of reliability, but still once too many.   Now leaving music at home or grabbing the wrong music has happened a few times - not often, but a few times and that is really embarrassing.

  6. You need to follow your heart and do what you love, but I'm going to give you the truth - in relation to classical music.  It is very late to get serious.  Whether you can do it depends on many things.  How well did you take to the instrument before you 'got serious?'  If you were a natural and generally had good instincts and reasonably good technique, then it may be possible, if you are exceptionally talented AND work very hard and smart.   (I would add Schradieck fluency exercises as well). 


    I'm going to tell you a bit about my background to make a point:  I started in 4th grade, got my first private teacher in 6th grade and was always considered very talented, but I did not get serious and start practicing regularly until the summer between 9th and 10th grade.  I played viola and while I achieved quite a bit, All-State all 4 years - 1st stand my Junior year, principal violist my senior year, invited to join the local professional orchestra my senior year, I struggled with poor training - I was not nearly as good as I could have been, and was getting by on talent mostly.  Late in my senior year, the new Concertmaster of the Symphony Orchestra, who was a Galamian student and had been a teaching assitant to both Galamian and Delay took an interest in me and invited me to attend a summer camp to study with him.  In 10 weeks he taught me from the gound up - literally going back to open strings,  All I did all day for the next 4 years was practice.  I spent my first two years at a local college, who had just hired a new viola teacher, who turned out to be quite good and continued the work started that summer.  Then I auditioned for and was accepted to a major music conservatory where I completely immersed myself.   My late start (and perhaps limited physical skills in this area) meant that I would never quite be as technically proficient as many of the other players who started earlier and had better tutelage, but I was good enough to play in any orchestra in the world as a section player at least, and I was gifted with a stand out sound, a wonderful instrument, and natural musicality.    But I could only have made it on viola - violin, no way.  This was in the late 1970's early 1980's.  And the bar has raised quite a bit since then in the skill sets kids are bringing to auditions for the few good jobs.  So you need to be able to seriosuly and objectively be able to compare what you have relative to other players, as a reference for where you need to work.  For classical music, as a soloist or an orchstra player, in a good orchestra that pays well, you need to be able to technically nail all the orchestra literature, and have a concentration and focus that allows you to make very, very few mistakes, if you can do this it doesn't matter if someone can play a paganinni caprice better than you (I could never play one at all).  If you maybe are not quite as technically developed, but develop a beautiful sound and musicality, you can probably still find a way to make it work.  As for other styles of music, I plead ignorance, but do encourage you to explore widely and broaden your horizons, but as for your Clasical training do not loose focus, the technical skills you delvelop can be used in any type of music, if you can learn the mental aspects of that style or type of music making.  Seek out the very best teachers and attend teh most reputable schools, because like it or not, thsi does open up doors and opportunities.   I was accepted for every audition I applied for, striaght out of school without having to send a prescreening tape, simply because of the school I went to and the teachers I had.   However, I burned myself out, and by the time I rediscoverd my love for playing I was an Engineer working in Aerospace - it supports my habit quite nicely, and was not a bad path at all.

  7. A little late, but for shear strength to weight, nothing beats Carbon Fiber.  However, it does have to be manufactured properly to take full advantage of the potential of the material, properly designed with quality resins and layed up without voids.  Wood laminate can be very strong, but again it must be manfactured very well with high quality materials - wood AND the glue used to bond it all together, and for the same stregth it will be quite a bit heavier than Carbon Fiber, or in other words, to get the same quality protection in a wood case, it will be heavy, no way around it. One plus for wood though is the way it fails, it doesn't lose all it's strength the second it breaks so even after being damaged it can still offer some protection, and minor damage is not a big deal.  But if yor carbon fiber case takes an exceptionally hard blow you really need to replace it to assure the adequate protection is maintained because you can't always see the damage, it might be in matrix (the glue that binds it all together) or an internal delamination between layers of the carbon fabric.  However, it is carbon fiber shells that keep race car drivers alive hitting walls at 200+ miles an hour.

  8. Her was considered the greatest concertmaster.   My teacher, William Lincer, told me a story of his auditon for concertmaster of the Boston.   At the time of the auditons he was sitting in the back of the violins - perhaps even the 2nds (?).  The outgoing concertmaster had recommended him for the audition.  He played through his prepared works beautifully and the committee, skeptical about this young man, started placing sightreading material in front of him.  Each time he played it flawlessly, obviously very familiar with the work.  Piece after piece they placed in front of him, and he performed each one perfectly.  Finally the old concertmaster chuckles and turns to the committee and tells them that they are not going to find a piece he does not know because he has dedicated himself to studying the orchestra literature.  He was also a 1st tier soloist.  I heard him several times as soloist and he could stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the major names. 

  9. I must be dense.  1) don't understand why you posted that video on a discussion of concert attire, nor do i know why the conductor intermngled the 1st and 2nds, though with them across the orchestra from each other, it kind of makes sense to do that.  Perhaps because they way the orchestra is shoehorned on the stage, the First and Seconds would not be able to see each other, so for ensemble reasons perhaps?

  10. It is a stage show.  What the performers wear is very important and part of the performance presentation.  Players can get away with wearing clothes that are a bit worn out, but certain things must be paid attention too.  Matching colors, modesty, proper fit in areas that can be seen such as pant leg length.   Shooes shoudl be clean and well polished.  In my opinion, no bare arms - men or women - at least 3/4 sleeves for women - and while skirts are fine, please keep them well below the knee, but I am of the opinion slacks are best for both sexes.  No jewelry that flashes or dangles.  The clothing one puts on for a concert should not make an individual statement but blend into the group.   

  11. Prefer the oversized off white printed sheet music, but like the convenience of downloadable files that I can store electronically and print out.  Wish they would create then to print out on oversized paper, but it is so nonstandard we would need special printers and paper - or they could format it to print ut on 11x17 which can be trimmed to size - that is what I do when I copy published music, copy it full size onto 11 x17 extra heavy off white paper at Fed Ex office and trim to size.  You can also enlarge the 8.5 x 11 music onto offwhite paper onto 11 x 17 and trim to size, it's not really that hard. 

  12. In red what I disagree with. Blue , what I agree with. :)


    1. I don't think we can call "Suzuki's work" a fundamental philosophy. It's a bit much. It's a system, a way, a method even. Stolyarsky had a fundamental phylosophy. Suzuki was a self taught amateur with little or no comprehension as to how certain mishaps in the beginning of one's learning damage badly one's chances to achieve professional excellency.


    2. What do you mean exactly by "learn to read music" ? What IS in your opinion or experience, "reading music" ? 


    3. You may bristle with disgust but your " I sincerely doubt any of these methods suppress any musical talent the student possesses" tells me two things, one of them being that you might want to have a few talks with established and competent violin teachers who struggle to teach and "repair" former Suzuki pupils whom while being talented have non the less failed to learn certain things right and at the right time




    You obviously have not read Mr. Suzuki's book or done much research on the subject.  The teachers i know and my own experience have shown me that a higher percentage of students that need to be reparied were the products of traditional teaching rather than Suzuki, but perhaps that is because the Suzuki programs around here have trained teachers and good oversight while any person can hang out a shingle and 'teach' violin in their home.   I was the product of the 'traditional' teaching method and at 18 I had to go through two intensive years of repair as I had not been taught how to properly hold a bow, place my fingers down, shift, or even play a scale in tune.  You are confusing good or bad teaching with a method.  I bet if you query these 'established and competent' teachers futher you will find that they have the same issues with traditionally taught students, it's just that a higher percentage of kids are coming up through Suzuki programs now so it appears to be a Suzuki issue.  I bet if they did some statistical studies they'd find that percentage-wise they are having as much or more problems with traditional students AND I would also expect that they will find significant differences in the problems they are having relative to what Suzuki studio they come from (i.e. a good one or a bad one). 

    Read music - fundamentally - at the young ages we are talking about, to translate the notes on the written page to the notes on the instrument. 

  13. Suzuki's work is really a fundamental philosphy about how children learn and how they can be taught to play the violin or learn music in general.  Some teacher's employ those concepts well and other's do not.  Some just take a specific aspect - so do not get the 'holistic' effect of teh entire philosophy; for instance, 'Suzuki' students are supposed to learn to read music integrally with learning to play by ear, both are valuable and as most violinists cannot play by ear it would not be a bad skill set to add to the violinists training, but if kids come out of a studio not being able to read msuic, that is only the fault of the teachers, not of a 'method.'   One of the greatest values for a child to learn to play the violin is the amount of physical and mental demands it places on them.  Coordination, fine motor skills, and mental focus - any advancement in these adds value to the childs life and raises their chances of success in whatever they chose to do. Being forced to stick with something is also not a bad thing as it teaches something about what it takes to become skilled and hopefully also teaches them that its the hard things in life that give us the greatest sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.   

    I bristle at those who say that this method or that method "just produces a bunch of robots,"  with obvious disgust.  The way I see is is someone came up with a way (be it Suzuki, or Galamian) to teach kids, who may not be musically gifted, at least the physical skills to play the violin proficiently.   That is something amazing to me (and community orchestras around the world benefit from their skills).   I sincerely doubt any of these methods suppress any musical talent that a student posesses, but it might give someone who is musically talented - but perhaps a little lacking in the phsycial skills - a path to develop the skills needed to express their musicality,   I sure wish I had had a Suzuki program to enter when I was 4, with a skilled teacher to show me the correct way to hold a bow and an instrument, but it did not exist here. 


    About forcing kids to practice:  to a point and within reason it is good parenting.  It is a rare individual who will say, as an adult, "Gee, I wish my parents had not made me practice so much".   Quite the opposite for most, my mother reminded me to practice but never made me do it.  How I wish she had been more insistant.  My kids did not take to it, but while they were taking they had to practice.  They were given points at which they were allowed to opt out, but not until after significant time and effort wrere expended.  Both regret it today, but also remember that every effort was made to encourage them to stick with it.