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Everything posted by Trent_Hill

  1. quote: Originally posted by Theresa: To Trent_Hill: Yes, please do look for the title of that book. I, for one, would very much enjoy reading it. And can anyone comment on DeLay's first hour of practice--articulation and bowing? T. Theresa, that book is called _The Hidden Musicians_, and is out of print but widely available in university libraries. It's by Ruth Finnegan (not, as I said at first, Flannigan). As far as DeLay's articulation and bowing drills go, remember that Simon Fischer studied with her, so I suspect that many of his exercises in _Basics_ derive from or have been inspired by her teaching. Hope this helps, Trent [This message has been edited by Trent_Hill (edited 07-16-2000).]
  2. There's a really interesting book by a British sociologist, Ruth Flannigan (I think that's her name) on amateur music making in a small British city that dwells at length on the amateur vs. professional distinction. She points out what a lot of you have pointed out here: there's often not a real clear distinction between "amateurs" and "professional" musicians in terms of ability and training, and certainly not in terms of seriousness: she points out, in fact, that often music matters more, in terms of time and passion spent on it, for some of the amateurs that she looks at than for many professionals. The big difference for her is that professionals tend to go through a more formal credentialing process and approach music as a career, not just in the sense that they do it for a living, but in that they strive for greater recognition, reward, and advancement within the institutions of the professional music world. The really good community orchestra that Theresa and I might strive for and view as a dream gig or that Lydia might be concertmaster of might, for a professionally-minded musician, be at best a way to keep her chops up or pick up a few students. If conservatories are anything at all like graduate programs in the humanities--and from what I've read about them, they are--a lot of your time is spent trying to master material quickly enough to impress your teachers that you're capable of succeeding at the next level--that you have "talent," which is a mysterious entity that you possess only when other people recognize it. And you're expected to demonstrate that you're committed to succeeding on as high and as prestigious a level as you can, which might mean making compromises and sacrifices in other parts of your life: playing through pain, say, or taking a first job with a regional orchestra that's located in a region in which you have no interest in living. I'm not finally convinced by its argument, but _Who Killed Classical Music_ (sorry, the author's name escapes me) is a pretty engaging, if one-sided and vitriolic, outline of the profession of Western classical music over the last seventy years or so. There are also some good works on conservatories as institutions that I'll try to dig up if anybody's interested. Sorry to ramble on at such length. Trent
  3. FWIW, I use the Westminister 26-gauge (medium) E--it sounds wonderful on my violin and balances well with the Tonicas.
  4. Oh, and since we're thinking historically here, here's a caveat/hint: The answer to my question above has NOTHING to do with the various expressive possibilities opened up by the fretless fingerboard: remember that, for much of the violin's early history, both portamento (expressive sliding) and vibrato weren't as commonly or universally used as today.
  5. While I'm no organologist (someone who specializes in the history of instruments), here's another way of posing the question: In the 16th century, the dominant bowed stringed instruments used in Western European music belonged to the viol family, of which the viola da gamba was perhaps the most prominent member. These instruments were all fretted. Why, then, was the gamba and its kin supplanted over the course of the 17th century by the violin family so thoroughly that it practically disappears except as a museum piece by the 18th century? Or, if you prefer, the question is not why does the violin have no frets, but why did it *lose* its frets? Details at 11.... (I feel like I am channelling HKV here. Whee!) Hope this intrigues, Trent
  6. Lydia, I don't know if you're posing this question because you're thinking about teaching on the side, but if that is the case, I would say you'd make a fine teacher, judging by what you've written here and on the BAVS list. That aside, in general I think that it's really important for a string teacher to have thought long and hard about string pedagogy--in fact, for teaching people "out of the gate," regardless of whether they're adults or kids, it might be more important. I think a good grasp of biomechanics is terrifically important, too: I would want a teacher of mine to have a grasp of the Alexander technique or a related discipline and to have some idea of how the "ideal" physical mechanics of playing that are particular to various "schools" of pedagogy need to be modified to fit particular student's physical needs. (This is my big anxiety right now about finding a new teacher: I'm discovering that I have a nightmare body for violin playing, long arms, long neck, narrow shoulders, non-prominent collarbone. Think "Chicken Run.") Having said all that, I would think that one crucial issue would be choosing a good graded method to work with. The Doflein books look ideal, almost as though they were designed for players who are either doing significant self-teaching or who are teaching others without having majored in music education. I wish I had known about them when I was starting out. Hope this helps, Trent
  7. I'll be completely unoriginal and pick the Bach unaccompanied works, or maybe (if there is such a thing) an edition of Tartini's violin sonatas. For etudes: I'd be torn between the Kreutzer studies and the Mazas, which are more fun as music than a lot of the Kreutzers.
  8. Here's an exercise my teacher recommended to me once: With violin and bow in playing position, place the tip of the bow on the A string, so as to start on the upbow. Tense your right arm, almost to the point that it's shaking. Then take a deep breath, relax as much as you can, wiggle your shoulder, your elbow, your wrist, stretch and contract your fingers, take another deep breath, and then.... Play a very short upbow--2 cm at most. Repeat all the above. As you approach the frog, make sure that your wrist is "breaking" in the way that you want it to. Then repeat the same on the downbow. You can, if you wish, drop the tensing part on any further repetitions, but the basic principle is the same: take the upbow very slowly, in an incremental fashion, and make any adjustments you need to make until they're second nature. Just play one note--open A is fine, third finger D is good too--so you don't have to worry about intonation while you're practicing the straight bow. The exercise is kinda tedious until you get into the zen of it. View it as a form of meditation. (That's a good way to look at a lot of violin practicing, btw.) I think there are some good exercises in Simon Fischer's _Basics_, and also in Galamian's book you might also want to look at. Hope
  9. Concord Musical Supply (www.concordmusic.com) is a great source for strings, as is Music City Strings (www.musiccitystrings.com). I've had very good dealings with them both.
  10. Albert, the virtues of the Glasser composite have been pretty well discussed--you might want to do a search on "Glasser" in the archives. I bought mine, sight unseen, a little over two years ago from SW Strings and have been very satisfied. I'm getting ready to upgrade to a decent pernambuco bow, but in your budget range (which was my budget range at the time), you're lucky to get a brazilwood pretzel. The Glasser will be straight, resistant to pretty much anything this side of using it as a jackstand, and very playable. In my experience, they have a rather nasal sound, but for your purposes (and, really, for 95% of mine), it'll get the job done really well. So, my advice is: Do it! Buy! Buy! Buy! Hope this helps, Trent
  11. All other things being equal, steel strings typically respond quicker than do synthetic-core strings, which respond quicker than gut strings. Lower tension or lighter gauge strings tend to respond faster than do heavier strings. If you have to work hard to get the strings to "speak," they might be too heavy for your particular violin. I think that, ideally, you want to match the strings to your instrument well enough so that you can control how quickly they respond: if they're really "twitchy," everything you play will sound like a martele stroke, whereas if they're really sluggish, your playing will sound dull and you'll work too hard to produce a good sound. Hope this helps, Trent
  12. Theresa, I think one thing you want to take care of when you're embarking on any workout regimen is that you make sure that you're strengthening all of your muscles, not just the "glamour" ones in the front of your body. There are a whole host of muscles in the upper part of your back (the rotator cuff muscles, the latissimus dorsii, the rhomboid, etc.) that mostly work to hold you upright and keep your shoulder from popping out of joint when you're doing things like throwing baseballs, benchpressing heavy weights...and bowing. Balance is the key here. Hope this helps, Trent
  13. I've never tried to play it (in no small part b/c it is above my head), but I think John Harbison's piece, "Songs of Solitude," for solo violin, is utterly beautiful. It's kind of a free atonal piece (not unlike early Schoenberg), very melodic and melancholy.
  14. I heard a really interesting interview on an NPR show a few months back with Henry Sapoznik, musician and musicologist of the Klezmer tradition, that addressed this question. If I remember it correctly, Sapoznik argued that the sort of rich, lush, almost "weepy" sound that characterizes a lot of the violinists we're talking about is part of the klezmer idiom they all grew up hearing around them and playing. Again if I remember it correctly, I think that Heifitz, Milstein, and Elman all got their start as child performers playing in klezmer groups. Plus, it's important to remember that the violin was the central instrument in the popular musics of Jewish and non-Jewish Eastern Europe, which is part of the reason why so many of the great violinists of the early part of the 20th century came from that region. Hope this helps or is at least interesting. Trent
  15. I think Andrew Manze is a staggeringly good player. I've just finished listening to his recordings of Tartini, Biber, and Telemann, and think they all embody, to some degree or another, not only what I think the violin is capable of doing, but music in general. The Tartini Devil's Sonata recording is especially breathtaking--even though I know that piece well, I find myself surprised by where he takes it. For more modern music, I haven't seen anybody mention Krysia Osostowicz, a really fine Polish / English violinist whose recordings of the Bartok solo sonata and the Faure sonatas are just beautiful. She is too, but I digress. Departed violinists: Szeryng, hands down. I love his Bach sonatas and partitas.
  16. Lydia, what I did when I used a Kun was to stretch a rubber band from the shaft of one leg to the other; that little bit of compression was all I needed. Hope this helps, Trent
  17. In Flesch's _Art of Violin Playing_, vol. 1, he suggests that the angle of the bow on the string should be dependent on the tension of the bow hair: if you like playing with a fairly slack bow, play flat; if you use a tight bow, tilt. Of course, I don't think he really defines "loose" and "tight," but it seems like a reasonable rule of thumb.
  18. Lessee--For bluegrass, I'd have to say Kenny Baker. For cajun, I love Michael Doucet. There are a couple of tremendous Greek violinists from the 30's and 40's, Ogdhondakis and Dimitrius Semsis, whose work staggers me. Alicia Svigals makes me feel grateful for the existence of the violin whenever I listen to her Klezmer collection, _Fidl_, from a couple of years ago. The two violinists for Muzsikas, Laszlo Porteleki and Mihaly Sipos, are pretty remarkable. Then, there's the utterly astonishing improvisatory work of Kemani Cemal Cinarh, a Turkish Roma violinist whose work has been recorded on _Sulukule_. The guys in Taraf de Haiduks are no slouches either. Most of the musicians I've mentioned aren't "fiddlers" in the sense we tend to use it--they're all very schooled musicians playing with advanced technique--but they're definitely not working within the Western art music tradition. I've seen the expression "folk violin" used in connection with Romanian "fiddle" music, so if you prefer that term, so be it.
  19. My teacher told me that, in general, the Schirmer edition's fingerings are more typical of 19th-century practice, while the Galamian / International edition is more reflective of modern preferences; f.i. in #2, the Schirmer edition has frequent string crossings while the International edition has more shifting. Since the Schirmer is soooo cheap, it's not bad to have both and to practice from each as the mood strikes you--you'll learn subtly different things.
  20. I push this book here so often that I should buy some stock in its publisher, but, again, _Yoga for Dummies_ has probably done more for my violin playing and my general physical conditioning than anything else I've ever looked at. I would also second Bruser's _The Art of Practicing_.
  21. Been there, alas! First, I'd recommend STRONGLY that you get yourself to an orthopedist immediately, preferably one who specializes in sports medicine. Ann is quite right: it sounds like you're developing rotator cuff problems. I don't think it's torn yet (if you're practicing 2-3 hours at a shot, certainly), but you're stretching and irritating the muscles and tendons really badly by continuing to practice w/o treatment. Secondly, I'd recommend that you spend at least fifteen minutes doing stretching exercises BEFORE you practice. There are some good recommendations in _The Art of Practicing_ for that; you might also look at _Yoga for Dummies_ or at _Six Lessons with Yehudi Menuhin_, who was also an advocate of yoga for musicians. There's also a good discussion of rotator cuff and impingement syndromes in _The Athletic Musician_, along with recommendations for exercises. And take longer breaks while you're practicing! Two minutes an hour is not enough--ten to fifteen, minimum. Finally, I'd try to change your posture: the rotator cuff muscles work, basically, to hold the ball part of your shoulder joint in the socket, and by holding your violin as far in front of you as you do, you're essentially pulling your shoulder out of joint whenever you play (and stretching those muscles in the process). Not to sound alarmist, but again, you cannot simply "play through" the sort of injury you're giving yourself, and most of the normal weightlifting exercises you might be tempted to try to strengthen the area will only make the condition much worse.
  22. I have a Sofia Amadeus model and love it. My teacher thinks that it was a steal. I've had it for six months now, and while it sounded good from the very beginning, it's opened up wonderfully since.
  23. quote: Originally posted by Joey: I do- like the aluminum D's better, but it is said that the silver D is louder. Why so? I don't find it to be true! The silver D's are never as bright and as brilliant as the aluminums in my honest opinion. Well, there's part of your answer--the aluminum Ds have more pronounced higher overtones on your violin, which give them more volume and carrying power. It really does vary from instrument to instrument. On my old violin, aluminum Ds sounded thin and brittle for that very reason, whereas on my current one they sound fine. That variation is why most string manufacturers make a silver and and aluminum D string; if you notice, it's really hard to find an aluminum G string or a silver A. Whoever "they" are, whatever "they" have told you, "they" are wrong.
  24. To return to the original question: As somebody who's been involved with higher education for about twenty years as a student and teacher, it's been my experience that the immediate choice of major isn't that important. Most students change their minds at least once. As a freshman, you'll take the usual batch of required classes and prerequisites (except that, if you want to keep music open as a possible major, you'll take private lessons and some music-specific intro classes as well). I suspect that the question of "music or science" will sort itself out as time goes by--you'll find yourself drawn to one or the other, and if you can't make up your mind, well, that's what summer school's for. Keep your options as open as you can for as long as you can, and remember, if you're worried about Life After College, that very few undergraduate majors translate directly into careers.
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