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lwl

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Everything posted by lwl

  1. I read music using progressives and a good stand light or an iPad. I don't especially like the progressives and am thinking of having an intermediate pair made specifically for music.
  2. Out of curiosity, what is the seller (presumably an optimistic individual with an attic violin, or an eBay scammer, and not a dealer/shop) doing to try to convince you it's real? Do they claim to have any paperwork?
  3. Bill, fortunately not. Though we do ask people to tell us something about themselves prior to the audition.
  4. Don Juan is serious overkill for a community orchestra audition. If you submit an audition full of the traditional professional excerpts, and they are perfectly played, the orchestra's manager/conductor/concertmaster will probably question if you understand that this is a community orchestra. If they are not perfectly played, choose something that's actually fully in your technical command. If for whatever reason you think the Bruch isn't a difficult enough concerto for this orchestra (though it really should be, if you play it with total command), then pick a more difficult concerto that you know. Although honestly unless you're going to play the exposition of Brahms, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, or Paganini No. 1, the Bruch is fine.
  5. Honestly, I'd just play the first movement of the Bruch, in its entirety, and leave it at that. Or if you want to up the difficulty, the last movement of the Bruch. (Or if you really think that the orchestra is highly competitive, play the exposition of a more difficult concerto.) As a community-orchestra concertmaster, I listen to all of our violin auditions. My impression of a player is probably going to be formed in the first 30 seconds, and two minutes is probably adequate to tell me what I need to know.
  6. I love my violin and bow, and for practical reasons I expect they will be "lifetime" equipment, but I honestly thought that about my previous violin and bow, too. And twenty years from now when I'm at retirement age, I think I might want to commission a 7/8ths, which would be less hard on my small hands, which would probably mean that I'd sell what I currently own. I'm both deeply attached to whatever violin and bow I have at the time -- and not so sentimental I'm not willing to sell to upgrade. My current violin was a lucky find, at a time when I wasn't actively looking and indeed thought I already had my forever violin. Finding a bow to match was a multi-month, multi-state search. Identification of both is left as an exercise for the reader.
  7. "The Heifetz Collection". Published by Carl Fischer. Nice collection of Heifetz transcriptions, of varying degrees of difficulty.
  8. I think you need to see a physician who can do an EMG and make a proper diagnosis. If you play professionally, I would consider going out of town to see someone with a specialty in musician's injuries (performing arts medicine), if need be.
  9. I think the feedback should be the same regardless of whether the student wins or loses, honestly. Learning to go through one's own playing in a self-critical fashion is a vital skill. If there were judge's comments, they should also be discussed with the student.
  10. I've yet to encounter a really awesome mass-produced instrument. I have encountered players who believe their mass-produced instrument is awesome, which is nice for them but often has relatively little to do with how good the instrument actually is. Great contemporaries clearly exist, but it seems like the best of them get picked up by players, who then cuddle them close for the remainder of their lifetime; they don't usually go back onto the open market. I disagree with Bill on the soloist not needing to be louder than the orchestra. There are plenty of mainstream violin concerti where it's not trivial to project over the orchestra, even if the orchestra and conductor are sensitive to balance issues. The Brahms concerto is the most notable example, but it's certainly not the only one. And depending on the venue, you can need to output quite a bit of sound to carry clearly to the back of the hall, regardless of what the orchestra is doing. There are good reasons why soloists chase projection in violins. Violins that can maintain a range of colors and different perceived dynamics, while still carrying over an orchestra, are really useful -- you don't want to be forced to be at Maximum Loudness All The Time To Be Heard. Easier projection also diminishes fatigue (and wear and tear on your body). Kids, though, don't really need projection as a primary buying quality unless they're already touring as soloists.
  11. I got my first youth symphony concertmaster position as a 10-year-old, and retained principal positions until I was done with school. I won that first audition on a cheap but good-sounding German workshop half-size, against kids who were junior high age playing full-sizes. I had a terrible Romanian workshop-made three-quarters, which was finally replaced by a decent American contemporary full-size (albeit apprentice-made, under the guidance of Carl F Becker). Throughout those years, I played solo competitions, concertos / concerto grossi with orchestra, concertmaster solos, and chamber-music. My violins didn't especially do me any favors (especially since I was such a small kid that I didn't get to a full-size until I was in high school), and indeed, my teachers really felt I should be playing something much better than I had. But my parents were probably better served waiting to get me the best full-size they could afford, rather than spending money on fractional instruments. A lot of kids growth-spurt. I went from a half-size to a full-size in less than two years, so money spent on the three-quarter was largely wasted. Importantly, I learned to produce a big sound, rather than depending on my violins for projection. Also, frankly, most concertmaster solos done at the youth symphony level don't require the concertmaster to have a huge sound. If you're playing Baroque concerto grossi (Corelli, etc.), the orchestration is light enough that it's easy to be heard. If you're doing the youth symphony classics -- say, Capriccio Espagnol -- the texture is light enough that you can be easily heard. If you're playing pit orchestra, most concertmaster solos are over an extremely light orchestration and are background-ish anyway. Indeed, as an adult now, concertmaster of a community orchestra, I can think of relatively few concertmaster solos in which it's hard to be heard; I never really feel like there's the same issues one faces in playing a concerto with orchestra. Violins are really personal to the player. There's no use in looking generically for good deals now. When your daughter is ready for a full-size, she'll need to go shopping in person to figure out what she likes, guided by her teacher. Responsiveness is paramount, along with playing characteristics that will help a player mature technically and as an artist. Also, what each player likes in terms of tone and proportions will be different. "Loud" is a bad purchasing criterion.
  12. Great instruments are highly responsive, and that can mean that they are more unforgiving of a lack of precision. You get back precisely what you put in. That means that skilled players are rewarded, but less-skilled players can find them frustratingly finicky. I've found that one of the advantages of owning an excellent instrument is the range of options that it opens up. There's a much broader set of color-shadings and a wide variety of ways to accomplish getting a particular sound, and interesting combinations that might not work on a lesser instrument (for instance, I can still get a lovely sound playing with a slow bow but no weight, up against the bridge, for a "projecting" pianissimo, whereas on most instruments this would just result in a lot of hiss).
  13. Young prodigies playing concertos on fractional instruments can cut through an orchestra for two reasons. First, they're often playing with an orchestra that is sensitive enough to balance issues that they cut way back on their volume, and possibly cut down the size of the string sections as well to reduce volume further. Second, they're often playing works that are more lightly orchestrated in the first place (a kid is much more likely to play Haydn or Mozart or even Paganini, than they are to play Brahms). Third, they have sound-production technique that maximizes their projection. My youth symphony once accompanied a pint-size Tai Murray on what must have been a quarter-size or half-size instrument, in Haydn G major. I remember no issues hearing her clearly in rehearsal, and for that matter there was no problem hearing her in the large venue of Chicago's Orchestra Hall. Anyone seeking a fine instrument for a child should be looking for responsiveness over projection. And not expecting to find it on eBay.
  14. The Bonham's article says that he was a cabinet-maker who was moved to make a violin for Einstein. I imagine it might be the only one he ever made.
  15. Good golly, that's an old thread. :-) I still read Maestronet occasionally. I posted some pictures of the Reed-Yeboah NYC exhibit violins recently. (Interesting that I still have the same Maestronet ID as I did in the past, yet the old posts show up with my full name but the new ones don't.) --Lydia
  16. I was there this morning and took pictures (for the purpose of remembering the makers) of everything I liked best, other than Joseph Curtin's violin (which I forgot to photograph). I'm not sure how useful they'll be to the members of this forum due to the angle at which I took these, but here you go. (i also have pictures of some of my favorite other fiddles -- Gusset, Arcieri, Grubaugh & Seifert -- but the forum is giving an upload error on processing the files.)
  17. Along these same lines, is anyone familiar with another Thomastik-Infeld "secret" string only sold to dealers in bulk, the Rondo strings?
  18. The Bach S&Ps are not of a uniform difficulty. For instance, the first movements of the D minor partita and E major partitas are common introductions to solo Bach and are playable by an intermediate-level violinist. There are plenty of easier movements in general. If you've got a good teacher and practice thoughtfully for 4 hours each day, there's a pretty good chance that you can be at that level within a 5-year timeframe.
  19. There's no particular reason why a kid can't play tenths or anything else involving extensions. Their hands are smaller, sure, but they're also playing fractional-sized instruments.
  20. Everyone who compares one instrument of maker X to one instrument of maker Y, and uses it to generalize about the quality of X versus Y, is unfortunately failing to recognize that there's enormous variance between a given maker's instruments -- even instruments that were made at essentially the same time. For older instruments, condition can have a big impact as well. But players are unique. If you've got a relatively light touch, you want a different set of response characteristics from someone who really loves to dig into the instrument -- and in fact, one of you may sound wonderful on an instrument that sounds awful in the other person's hands (even if they try to adjust their tone production to suit the instrument). Bows can dramatically change the sound of the instrument. (Note that I use the word "dramatic" here mostly in terms of the sound under the player's ear; the differences will be much smaller in a hall.) Fitness for purpose matters immensely, too -- orchestral players, chamber-music players, and soloists will likely all be looking for different characteristics. I love my violin for its super-easy response, clarity, and decent volume with a light touch -- it's great for effortless orchestra playing, and chamber music. It's not an ideal instrument for belting out a concerto with orchestra, though. A player will (or should, anyway) alter their tone production depending on circumstance. The kind of sound you want to produce to blend as an orchestra section-violinist is not the kind of sound that you want to produce doing a concerto with orchestra. The range of your dynamics and how you achieve the impression of dynamics (not necessarily the same thing as an absolute increase or decrease in decibels of volume), translucency versus richness of sound (think of a "Mozart" sound vs a "Tchaikovsky" sound), and so forth is all altered. Better players demand more subtleties of response, I think. If you have precision control over your body, you expect that precision control to modify the sound in as small an increment as you can control. Good players can calibrate their control on an inferior instrument to make it do what they need, but the effort can be felt and the lack of subtlety is frustrating. I would guess that most people playing at the professional level can actually control an instrument that has significantly finer-grained response than what they're actually using (save for the top tier of soloists using the finest of instruments).
  21. There's a difference between how an instrument sounds under your ear, how it sounds to a listener five or ten feet away, and how it sounds in a hall -- and what it sounds like when recorded. The player makes a huge difference, as well, because all of us have different methods of tone production. And tonal qualities are clearly subjective. Moreover, the player may, consciously or unconsciously, try to shape the instrument to his sound, which might or might not be where the instrument's best qualities lie. I completely agree with Martin, though -- play, say, solo Bach in a hall and you will hear distinct timbre differences between different violins, but the sense of what's better or worse can get significantly blurred. You may be more or less clearly heard at the back of the hall, and it may sound more or less subjectively good to a listener, but otherwise, I suspect that the difference between a top-quality instrument and an el cheapo is hard to hear under those circumstances. Throw an orchestra into the mix and it may come down to 'how well does this instrument punch through the noise'.
  22. There is a transparency/translucency to the sound. It is open and resonant, with overtones and a sustain. There's a core focus to the note, but also something of a shimmer. I sometimes think 'glass-like'. It's very distinctive, both under your ear and right next to it. I don't know the degree to which it's captured either by recording devices or at a distance (when an audience is listening). I have the Miracle Makers CD set and high-end speakers, for instance, and I think much of the sound is lost to CD recording; I do not notice it, really, on the Strad recordings. (Compare Hilary Hahn's performances on CD vs SACD, for instance, on good speakers, and you'll really hear how much of a violin's tone is lost in the downsampling. Of course she plays a Vuillaume not a Strad.)
  23. I was at Mondomusica, although regrettably I missed the shoot-out. (On the other hand, it was a good time to be on the floor while that session was running, as it was quite a bit quieter -- I revised my opinions of some things I played once I'd heard them without being surrounded by wall-to-wall violins.) The thing that was most fascinating to me about the show was the opportunity to play multiple violins by particular makers, which you often don't get outside of potentially some contemporary makers. The chance to do so in rapid succession, thus being able to get a sense of similarities within a given maker, was really quite awesome. It also clearly illustrated the range of variance of a given maker's playing qualities especially factoring in the condition of the instrument. I played three Vuillaumes, for instance, two of which I didn't care for at all and one that I loved. I also tried out quite a few of the moderns, but none of them made much of an impression other than an instrument by a female luthier whose name I cannot remember -- she was apparently the first woman to win a particular tone award, and her violin was miles better than the other contemporary Cremonese instruments it shared a table with. I also loved Florian Leonhard's Guarneri copy (and to judge by my conversations in that booth, a lot of other players did as well, with one player mistaking the instrument as I was playing it for the Guarneri itself), but it carried a $60k price tag, very hefty for a contemporary living maker. (David Burgess, I played your violin in the AFVBM section, by the way. Nice.) To me, there's a particular "Strad sound" -- a quality of transparency and resonance that I tend to describe as 'bell-like'. There's also a sensitivity to nuance that the instrument has, a particular way of reacting that I find completely enchanting as a player. Contemporary makers, if you can give me that sound -- translucent, penetrating, carrying, pure yet with complexity -- and that precisely-nuanced response, I would love to buy your violin. I don't know if the audience can hear it -- perhaps they can't -- but it makes the instrument a joy to play. (Interestingly, I found that the Vuillaume that I really liked almost had that sound, but only on the E string and upper positions of the A string. But it did not have that same degree of nuance.)
  24. If you're really strapped for reach, you can also consider placing the finger almost on its side (likely the 3rd or 1st finger). If you're going to do that, start by anchoring the 3rd finger and reaching back. This works for tenths as well as it does for fingered octaves, although fingered octave trills may be difficult this way depending on the relative length of your 4th finger vs. your 3rd finger. It is possible that the reach is simply too large, as well. With my small hands, there are things that I can do very readily on a 7/8ths instrument, could do reasonably on my previous full-size instrument, and can't do at all on my current full-size instrument -- there's some variation in size and proportion even amongst full-size violins. Whatever you do, be very, very cautious about injuring your hands. The moment you feel any pain or fatigue, you should stop. A stretching injury in my 20s caused me weeks of pain that I could have readily shrugged off as a teenager, and I imagine in your 50s it would be much, much worse.
  25. I'm looking for a good violin shop in the vicinity of Washington DC or Baltimore. (I've moved, for those who remember that I was living in California.) I know about the existence of Potter's in Bethesda, and Brobst in Alexandria. Any others? Any commentary on those shops? My primary need is to find out who does good bow rehairs, although I'd also like to find a shop that does good adjustments, etc. (I own an expensive enough violin and bow that I'd like to entrust them into the hands of people I can rely on.) I usually pick up strings and the like online, though it'd be handy to know who's got them at reasonable prices, locally, when I need something immediately. Your thoughts appreciated.
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