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  1. I was playing the 3rd movement of the Telemann viola concerto last night, and had just reached the emotional climax of the piece when my husband poked his head in the room and said, "You know, the viola sounds like it's in the same range as the harmonica."
  2. Dr. Laura is a right-winger who is neither a doctor nor a licensed therapist. She's just an entertainer, if you like that kind of thing.
  3. Another point about trills that no one has mentioned here is to make sure that the upper note is really in tune. Because you're often just quickly slapping that note, the finger doesn't hit the exact in-tune spot; this makes the trill sound muddy. Sometimes it's not so much the speed of the trill that makes it sound brilliant but the accuracy of the left hand. (Note: the bulk of my experience with this is on the cello, not violin or viola, but I would expect the same principle holds for all fretless strings.)
  4. This is probably a little off topic here, but I was just in a local shop over the weekend and was asking about chin rests. One of the people there (a violist) looked at how I was holding the viola and said I was putting my chin in the wrong place. I have one of those center-mount chin rests with a bump in it, and I kind of hook my chin loosely on the bump. Is this wrong? (We tried a flat side-mount chin rest, but I didn't like it at all, so I had him put my old rest back on.) I use a Kun shoulder rest set at the lowest possible setting -- just enough to accommodate my sloping shoulders. Do I have to relearn my playing position, or is this just a natural variation? I think I would actully prefer a flatter center-mount rest -- any recommendations? Thanks.
  5. 4strings, believe it or not, I lived in central North Dakota for a brief time (1986-1987), playing in the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony. How do you find teaching now, going back to it? Do you teach mostly kids or a mixture of kids and adults? Re the instruments: I kind of agree with everyone about keeping the nice cello. One thing I'm thinking of doing is trading in the student-level cello at some point for a nicer viola; the shop will take the cello back if I buy another instrument of equal or greater value. I've been playing on this new cello for 6 months or so, and while I do like it a lot, it's definitely not as nice sounding or as easy to play on as the other one. Thanks for the comments.
  6. Samira: I do want to keep on with the viola, since I've come this far and I enjoy it. (BTW, did Julie tell you about me possibly playing quartets with you?) The teacher I have is a violinist, a very good player, who has also studied viola, and although everything he tells me is correct and it has all really helped my playing, he's not that organized. He just throws a lot of material at me and pushes through things very quickly (I guess assuming that I can grasp it all a lot faster than the average adult beginner). So it can be frustrating, although if I ask him about something, he gives very good, clear answers. So as I said before, I'm inclined to continue studying with him for another season and see how it goes. On the piano: I took piano lessons for about 10 years as a child/teenager, and have taken it up again on and off over the last dozen or so years, but I've never been all that good at it. Lots of great music to play on it, though. Sigh. Anyway, thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful replies to my question. I appreciate it.
  7. I was really hoping we'd have another Maestronet bash somewhere on the east coast.
  8. It's been a while since I've posted anything here, but I've been revolving these questions in my mind and am wondering if there's a reasonable path, if anyone has had similar experiences, etc. I started playing the cello when I was 12, 32 years ago, went through college and grad school as a cello major, and then got discouraged about playing/teaching as a career so, over the last 10 years, gradually stopped practicing unless something came up to play for -- it was just too painful emotionally. Over the past year, I became interested in playing the viola, so I acquired an instrument and took some lessons and now am up to the point of learning 3-octave scales, the 1st Bach cello suite, etc. At the same time, I decided to start a plan I have had for a while to find a basic cello to play on (in case something came up) and sell my Italian cello because I feel like it's a shame that it's just sitting around gathering dust. Well, now I have TWO cellos (I found a decent student cello but can't bring myself to start the process of selling the other one), a viola, a piano, which is also gathering dust, and a banjo (a gift), and I am interested in ALL of these but barely have time to work on even one of them properly. For the past 6 months I've been going back and forth between cello and viola. The cello I can play much better, of course, and have occasional opportunities for chamber music concerts and other gigs. The viola is a novelty for me and I like the challenge; it's also fun to hear the improvements from week to week when I practice every day. The problem is I think I would enjoy working on any of these instruments, or maybe even some other ones (I have just always liked musical instruments of any kind), so how do I decide? Or how do I balance playing more than one? Is it better to only do one instrument per day for a longer period of time (say 2 hours) or divide up the time amongst 2 of them every day, or are the sets of muscles that need to be developed just all too different for this to work at all? I do have to make a decision soon about whether to sign up for viola lessons again this semester. My instinct is to go ahead with it since I have the chance right now and have developed a decent rapport with the teacher (it's at a community college, and my current employer will pay the tuition); it would at least keep me motivated to play something. I do know that I feel better when I play some kind of music regularly, but I seem to need goals to keep myself going. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions (and know that I do have to make my own decisions, but it's always interesting to hear what others think). Thanks.
  9. The violist Patricia McCarty recommends these exercises. Check her Web site (I don't remember the address off hand but do a Google search for it) -- she may even have some of them posted, or you could e-mail her.
  10. I like the little rotating fish that turn into crosses. Subtle, eh?
  11. For memory: practice backwards. That is, divide the piece up into manageable sections (8-12 measures each, or whatever works with the piece), start with the last one, then work backwards. Then you can mix the sections up and play them out of order. This really helps. (Even smaller divisions might help with really tricky passages.) For not wearing yourself out and working on your tone: practice slowly! Set the metronome to a slow, comfortable tempo and play at full volume. (This also helps with memory.) If you do some of this kind of practicing every day between now and your jury, I guarantee it will help.
  12. You can always make your own endpin stop: use a piece of 2 x 4 cut to about 8" long, screw a cup hook on each side at one end, and tie the ends of a rope or cord long enough to go around the front legs of a chair plus some extra onto each cup hook. Then make some indentations along the length to stick the point in. This will work pretty well under most circumstances, although it's rather ugly. I've also used a long leather belt, which holds the endpin but doesn't protect the floor (you put the point through the holes in the belt and put the end with the buckle under one chair leg).
  13. Eclectic Lady -- Where is the jam session you're going to? I live in the DC area also, and I'd be interested (if I can find the time...) (I play the viola a little bit, might have access to a violin to give it a try.)
  14. I'm sorry to hear about your father, Crystal. I lost my mother 2 years ago. She had a malignant brain tumor, so it was almost like instant Alzheimer's, and it was very difficult. She was really my best friend. Every day when I hear the news coming out of the Middle East and other hot spots around the world, I think any squabbling over trivia is, well, trivial.
  15. If you are earning money by playing the instrument you want to insure, you might want to take out a separate policy for it for tax purposes. You can deduct the insurance cost from your income to reduce your taxes a little.
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