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Posts posted by DR. S

  1. Yes, the musicians need to be aware of whether or not they can be seen. Even if by a few audience members, they should nto partake in anything that could be distracting. As far as distracting other musicians, that is for the conductor and other musicians to determine. There were a couple of violists in an orchestra I played in in New York who played chess during rehearsal. The board was on the floor between them. One always paid attention to the instructions of the conductor while the other studied his next move. They never missed an entrance or direction, but that was them. I still think they were out of line but the conductor did not seem to mind.

  2. With regards to classical vs. popular. I think the point of confusion is that if you want good technique, you should pursue a classical training relative to technique, but that in no way means that you must play classical music. I think exercises and some etudes are in order from the classical library, but for reperatoire, play what moves you. You will find that more and more folk, jazz, and country fiddlers have the foundation of classical technique, you just cannot beat it for learning to control and manipulate the instrument.

  3. One thing to consider Yulaberry,and that I don't think you yet grasp, is that playing a stringed instrument is a long journey that takes patience and persistence. It takes a good month if you concentrate and work everyday to replace an old habit with a new one. Much longer with less focus on the task. A necessary skill in playing is making some things that feel unnatural at first feel completely natural and developing new habits, because there is no one on earth whose can consciously control teh body to do all the things one must do to play and instrument, 99% must be habitual and in muscle memory. I always try to use postions that are as close to natural as possible but there are tweaks that go beyond natural positioning. Think of dancers -they need to be more limber and flexible than the layman, a trained singer uses their voice in a way a non-trained singer can never do. There is a little of this for the violinist, and more so teh older and stiffer we are when we start. I ALWAYS find that self taught or poorly taught students have developed habits that are even more unnatural than what is required, so the things I change have to do as much with avoiding injury as improving technique. Without knowing what your teacher is asking you to do and what your techique looks like, I cannot comment specifically on your case, but I can definitively say that breaking old habits and developing new ones is part of the process.


    From yahoo.com, United cracks down on carry-ons.


    Supposedly, this isn't a change in policy, just a stricter enforcement of existing policy.  But no violin case, not even a violin only case, could meet those dimensions restrictions of 9 x 14 x 22 inches, if strictly enforced.


    Anybody had recent experience with United?


    Edit:  Here's an interesting part of the article:

    Begin quote:

    The airline says [the crackdown is] simply ensuring that compliant passengers have space left for them in the overhead bins. In recent years, the last passengers to board have routinely been forced to check their bags at the gate because overhead bins were already full.


    "The stepped-up enforcement is to address the customers who complained about having bags within the size limit and weren't able to take them on the plane," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said. "That is solely what this is about."

    End quote.


    So, your carry-on can be within the dimensions of what is allowed and you still might not be able to carry it on because of lack of room.  This confirms something discussed earlier in this thread:  If you think that your instrument is meeting some sort of more relaxed instrument size requirement and you are thus complying with the requirements for carry-on instruments, that does not guarantee that you can carry the instrument on.  So, boarding early when there is room is important.


    See my copy-paste from the United Website about musical instruments. 90 linear inches is allowed as carry on, no charge. You can also pay a little extra and get early boarding, which I did. As far as not all carry on baggage fitting in the overheads, that is a result of them now charging for all checked bags, so they dug that hole themselves. Now everyone tries to travel only with carry on, so space is bound to run out. The real question is do they charge for checking baggage that meets carry on size limitations? That would really suck. No-one like to fly anymore, its a horrible industry.


    Now you all have me wondering if a violin (or violin bits) have ever actually killed someone?  When used as a weapon I mean...


    Don't know about that but I bet some bad violin playing has gotten the perpetrator killed at some point in history.

    Or how about this: "This plane is being hijacked to Cuba or I'll pull out my violin and play badly!"

  6. Thanks for all the feedback.

    With United it cost me about $75 to get priority access.

    Here are United's policies:

    - Instrument should be in a hard shell case to protect it during normal handling.

    - Excess charges apply if checking more than the baggage allowance.

    - Oversize charges apply to musical instruments that measure 90 - 115 linear inches.

    - Overweight charges apply to musical instruments that are over 50 pounds.

    - Musical instruments over 70 pounds will not be accepted.

    - If the instrument is over 115 linear inches, contact the United Customer Contact Center.

    Even my double case comes in well under the 90 linear inches (length + width + height) so if I decide I need my violin too, I can take it as well.

  7. I booked United, they allow 90 linear inches for carry on instruments. That would allow my violin/viola double case if I so desired (but I have no need to take the violin), so I should be okay. I'll have a printout of their own policies with me when I check in. Getting a shaped case may be a good idea however, just to to take up less room - not a good idea to be a pain to other passengers by taking up more space than I need, especially since we are asking for special treatment.

  8. I need to travel with my viola in July. I have been reading the rules posted by the airlines on muscial instruments and it seems pretty clear from their written policies that my only options are to buy an extra seat or check it, my viola case (or even my violin case for that matter) does not fit within the published constraints.

    What have been the recent experiences you guys have had? What really worries me is that even if they are known to bend the rules and let instruments on, their written policy is clear and I will have no recourse if they decide to enforce it when I get to the plane. I thought Congress passed some legislation that was supposed to give us a break, but I am not seeing it in the written policies - except specifically for guitars.

  9. Ah, but practicing/working fingerings that may at first feel uncomfortable - such as 2nd position is valid in the practice room, because the larger the bag of tricks you can take to the stage, the better. The point is to make that good but uncomfortable fingering method become comfortable so it becomes one of your options. I still stand by the statement that you need to use simple fingerings where ever possible. So, the wider range of things you can do comfortably - or seeminly simply, the better. Comfort is for the stage, not the practice room!

  10. There are ways to practice smarter and more efficiently. Also, research shows that most of what is learned or at least retained is what we do at the very beginning and at the very end of a practice session. So several shorter sessions are better than one long session. Of course I think good concentration can mitigate this to some extent. In fact focused concentration is the most important factor in making practice efficient. Finding the 'root cause' of the problem is the real path to solving the problem. By my 4th year of conservatory, I found that I could get more done in 4 hours of practice than I could in 8 when I was a freshman. This was partly due to being more skilled, but also partly due to better practice habits/skills. My mind was sharper and more focused than it had ever been before or has ever been since. The focus of good professional musicians is matched by few others - perhaps worldclass athletes but few others.

  11. For fluency I suggest the Schradieck exercises. Starts with one string and multiple finger patterns and goes from there. Start very slowly, breaking up the bows and work toward fast fingers and long bows but alwasy rhythmically trying to make the fingers go down with machine like precision. If you can get through the first two exercises, with relaxed speed and precision, you are 90% there.

    I second Will's comments. In faster passages I always think of breaking it up into peices and using 'key' notes as pivots to mentally switch from one to the other. As far as playing all the notes in between, I like the image of 'grabbing handfulls of notes', feeling the pattern of the next passage in the hand rather than mentally attempting to place each note. Some of the greats may have fast enough minds to control each note (or maybe not), but us mortals definitely cannot.



    "I've always been taught that the strings ought to be relatively level to the floor. I never gave it much thought, I just did it.  The only thing I remember about the idea is that if the strings angle down too much, the bow tends to slide, but is there more to it?"

    There is some truth to this, but do ot overplay it. Cellists manage fine with very steep string angles and very few violists hold the instrument level.  

  13. Perlman was taught and used very well the basic Galamian bow hold (Franco Belgium style). As he has gotten older he has gotten a bit 'lazy' about his 4th finger -except at the frog which is really where it is most needed and does the most work. I have not watched the attached video, but I have noticed watching him that the 4th finger comes back in contact at the frog. My teacher was a class mate of his and we went to see him play with the Dallas Symphony back in the late 70's and were invited to his dressing room after his performance. My teacher who was an assistant to both Delay and Galamian at the Juilliard School before moving to Texas, mentioned this to him in a light hearted sort of way and Perlman kind of sheepishly shrugged. I second the advice to first attain a good 'textbook' hold and then go from there.

  14. Isn't art, in one sense, the level to which one elevates a craft? The other side of art is - does it elicit an emotional response? Look at how the Japanese can take a craft or trade, such as making noodles, or paper, or tea, or soy sauce, and turn it into an art that takes years and years to master to a level pretty much impossible for most of us westerners to comprehend (perhaps we should think wine or beer craft here). Would you call the noodles or paper, tea, or sauce created by these artists artworks? Not always, though I certainly have eaten meals that were 'works of art, yet it would be correct to consider their level of skill in their craft to be that of an artist. There is no way to precisely define what separates art from craft (or where it transitions from one to the other), but there are definitely items created of craft that rise to the level of art. I would put great violins (and bows) into this category. There is the art of the violin itself, the art of a performance (certainly not all performances rise to art level, but they can) and there is the art of the composition (again not all). When it all comes to together - these 3 arts - the result, as we have all experienced is mind bogglingly sublime and without question, art.

  15. This is really just the return of the violin to a place of prominence in more populist music. It used to be the prominent instrument because of it's portability ans sweet sound, but when noisy clubs became the focal points for popular music in an increasingly urbanized society, it lost favor to the louder brass and woodwind instruments. Amplification created a solution to this, but the culture had already changed. Only country music kept the violin (fiddle) in the band and of course the limited appeal bluegrass and roots based folk music whose slow gain in popularity over the last 30 years is starting to take hold and propel the violin back into the limelight as a solo instrument for other than classical use.