Loren Feffer

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Everything posted by Loren Feffer

  1. Perhaps it will be helpful to hear that I recently bought a lovely viola that was made by a student at the Chicago School a number of years ago. I paid about $4k, and I'm very pleased with the instrument, which is about 12 years old now. Not exactly the kind of purchase you are considering, however ... 12 years is a long time. Good luck!
  2. Thanks for all of your replies. Of course I have no expectation of "acting as a dealer" to try to sell an instrument -- my main interest was in how shops handle sales or consigments or whatever of instruments previously purchased. But you have basically confirmed my hunch that -- not unfairly, I suppose -- one can pretty much count on a large hit (on the order of 50%) on value if one needs to sell an instrument in a timely way. Again, thanks for your input.
  3. I'm considering the purchase of what I would be for me a fairly expensive "upgrade" instrument -- say in the $20K range. Many factors go into such a purchase of course but I'd like to collect some opinions on just one: if I should need/want to sell this instrument in the future, am I best off buying an older instrument from a large dealer, or workng with a maker on a new instrument? Or something else? I know that violins are not very liquid under the best of circumstances but I fear a scenario where I buy a $20K violin only to be told two years from now that I can only sell it for $10K. If protecting value is important, what is the best way to proceed? Thanks for any and all comments.
  4. I tried to do the same thing awhile ago, and was greatly surprised to discover that some luthiers refused to do this sort of examination -- one suggested to me that legal liabilities would prevent anyone from doing so. Happily, other fine luthiers have no such qualms, so don't be discouraged if you initially have some trouble finding someone willing to look at your violin. That said, I've taken my instruments to Christophe Landon's shop (now combined with "Strings and Other Things" I believe) on Broadway across from Lincoln Center. They are large and a bit impersonal but do very good work. Do call for an appointment, however, and expect to pay top $ for their time.
  5. Can you hook your Sony minidisc recorder/player to your audio system? I need to preserve some very old cassettes and I'd like to do it on minidisc, but I'm having some trouble figuring out how to make the recording. My CD burner is part of the computer, not the audio system, so I don't see a way to record them on CD. Thanks for any info.
  6. There are several discussions in the archives about Iizuka's violas. I've heard one and was absolutely enthralled by the beautiful, huge sound. They are also quite attractive. I don't recall the details about how much they cost, but I think someone posted that there is a significant (multi-year) wait list.
  7. The "Art of Violin" aired in Europe and the UK earlier this year, and the European standard version of the DVD has been available for some time. I think the US standard only became available within the past month or so -- I got mine from Amazon a few weeks ago.
  8. I'm about 5'7" and play a 16 3/8" viola (part time only -- I'm primarily a violinist.) I purchased this instrument during a search undertaken specifically to get a smaller viola, but I was surprised by the playability of this one. As others have said, length is not the only factor by far in determining comfort with a viola. Neck dimensions and weight are also very important. I think your idea that your son should probably try out different instruments beginning at 16" is a smart one; as a growing teenage boy already 5'8", he should be able to play somewhat beyond a 16" viola without difficulty. That he does not plan to pursue viola professionally may actually argue in favor of getting him an instrument now rather than later -- he may do his most concentrated and serious playing in high school, playing that will form the foundation for him as an adult amateur. It would be a good time for him to have what could hopefully be a long-term instrument. Good luck with your search.
  9. My understanding about the all-male tradition at the Vienna Philharmonic is that it is part of a cluster of "traditions" they adhere to, supposedly to help them to maintain their unique sound. Among other things, this has included hiring mostly players from certain schools/teachers, especially in the string sections. I don't know if they refuse to consider women as an explicit policy, or if they just HAPPEN to have never found a satisfactory woman to hire ...
  10. I have two of the old-fashioned sheet music cabinets. They have horizontal shelves and hold quite a lot of music. The other systems suggested are probably more efficient, but if your music has to "live" in your living room or some other place where file cabinets or boxes would look lousy, the wooden cabinets are a nice alternative. I got both of mine locally, but they are often on Ebay. Prices range dramatically, from $50 to $500. If money isn't a big issue, for $300-$500 you can buy beautiful new sheet music cabinets from Alden Lee and other suppliers -- look for ads in Strad, etc.
  11. Thanks for your account of Hahn's concert. I was sorry to miss it! I hope that Maestronetters from elsewhere may read this and be inspired to visit NYC and attend some of the wonderful upcoming performances here. Hotel prices have never been better (a friend recently got $100/night rooms at a four star midtown hotel on Priceline), and ticket availability is quite good too. Lincoln Center and other cultural institutions are really hurting right now, and we can all help them while enjoying ourselves at the same time.
  12. Like most others who've responded to your post, I began playing in orchestras as a child. However, I can tell you that I know several adult beginners who have successfully joined orchestras fairly soon after starting violin. Once you are comfortable playing in at least first through third positions, and playing a variety of tempos and bowings, you can think about orchestral or chamber music groups. If you have previous musical experience, that makes it somewhat easier. Community groups range in their expectations of player ability from very high and selective to virtually open to all who are interested. Keep asking friends and others until you find a group that suits you. Alternatively, perhaps you could get your feet wet by getting together with your teacher and/or a couple of individuals to read some easy chamber music arrangements and just get the feeling for playing with others. Even just playing with piano accompaniment is great fun! Good luck!
  13. If new restrictions on carry-on luggage are put in place, then instruments almost certainly will not be allowed on board -- keep in mind that violins technically violated the restrictions already in place at American airports (22"x14"x9" or something close to that) and were only let on board as a kind of courtesy by most airlines. Some sources are reporting that carry-on baggage will be forbidden completely, but it is hard to imagine how they could enforce that -- it seems that people would have to be allowed to carry purses and briefcases. And diaper bags, etc. So perhaps violins will continue to receive courtesy exemptions from carry-on rules, but frankly I wouldn't count on that for awhile anyway.
  14. The label "community orchestra" can cover a pretty wide range of groups. Some (especially in places like NJ and NY) are very serious groups with a mixture of professionals and advanced amateurs who bring in well-known soloists and perform a full subscription series of concerts. At the other end of the spectrum are groups that welcome all comers and play more modest programs, usually for free or a small ticket charge. Chances are if your teacher knows the orchestra in question and he/she recommended you, it will be suitable for you. But if you don't like it for some reason, by all means keep looking. There are probably at least a couple of community orchestras in your area. Standard advice for new orchestra players: Be sure to bring a pencil and an orchestra mute to rehearsal. If you're seated in an "inside" chair expect to turn pages. Pay careful attention to the conductor and the section leader, and be sure to count your rests, and you will be fine! Enjoy!
  15. Make sure that you haven't inadvertently plugged your earphones into the speaker jack. That produces a soft sound.
  16. I do think practice logs are a good idea. They keep me honest about how (and how much) I'm spending my practice time and help me manage progress toward goals large and small. That said, I've kept one on and off -- not religiously by any means. For awhile I was using a kind of low-tech spreadsheet. I printed out a stack of sheets with practice categories (e.g., scales, etudes, special exercises, solo work, ensemble music, etc.) in columns across the top, with one row for each day of the week. The boxes were large enough to write (in abbreviations) how long I practiced in each category, and exactly what I did. This format helped me see at a glance how I was using my time each week, and gave a quick hint how I should plan my next practice session. Somehow a real log (in a notebook) seems more elegant and permanent than my practice sheets, but the sheets do make keeping & using a log pretty easy.
  17. I donated a violin & bow to a charitable organization called the Virtu Foundation in Virginia awhile back, and plan to send them a viola when I get around to it. Their website is www.virtufoundation.org. They place instruments with schools and individuals who need them. They don't mind doing minor repairs and will give you a receipt for tax purposes. They can also make shipping arrangements for you. If you don't have a local organization to donate your instruments to, this is a good solution. Oops -- sorry Sound Dreamer! Singpore is probably too far from Virginia to ship an inexpensive violin. [This message has been edited by Loren Feffer (edited 08-08-2001).]
  18. I don't actually remember when I started reading & posting to the Fingerboard, but it was before the "new" board. Throughout all the format changes, etc., this has remained an interesting and helpful source of info.
  19. Okay, I know I'm not the oldest person on this board so maybe someone else remembers this. I was a kid when Dominants and the Thomastik tailpiece were introduced, and my teacher -- an excellent violinist trained by Zimbalist -- fell in love with both and promptly installed them (together) on all of his violins and on those of his students. I already knew how to tune, etc., so I just viewed this as a nifty modern improvement, not some kind of shortcut. And I was very happy to give up gut. I played that way for years without ever wondering about it, until a guy I play with now (who believes everything in the Shar catalogue is Gospel) recently started questioning me about using the Dominants with tuners. I still have the Thomastik tailpieces on my violins (tho' I regret its ugliness) and appreciate the discreet fine tuning it permits in certain situations, especially on the A string. My pegs are all fine, and I find I only have to "back off" the tuners once in a great while. With new strings and in weather upheaval, of course, one must use the pegs more or less exclusively, so fine tuners can never sub for good pegs. Although I mostly use Dominants (I am lazy about string experimentation) lately I've been using Thomastik Reds on my primary instrument. They too work fine with the Thomastik tailpiece, but I think they had a longer break-in period than I usually have with Dominants. I see many pros these days with the nice expensive integrated tailpieces. If I were setting up a violin from scratch, I'd get one of those. My newish viola has a conventional tailpiece and just one fine tuner, and I don't mind (tho' I use steel strings -- go figure!) but all things being equal I guess I don't see why one would choose not to have them.
  20. That price is excellent! But I do recall that someone on the board bought the adjustable viola version of this case and complained about it pretty vehemently a year or so ago -- check the archives. Remember that Shar has good customer service and a return policy. If you don't like it, you can always send it back. At that price, it is probably worth a chance.
  21. Have any British or European Maestronetters seen this film yet? It sounds very interesting -- a documentary collection of films of great early 20th c. violinists along with clips & commentary from some contemporary players. Bruno Monsaingeon is a violinist, and has made several other important films about musical subjects. Sadly, I see no evidence that this film is available in the US. It is supposed to be broadcast on pay TV in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and is available for purchase in the PAL VHS and "Region 2" DVD formats. (Until now, I thought DVDs were universal ...)
  22. quote: Originally posted by Theresa: Here's the list of responses: Loren Feffer (Are you coming or are you just giving directions?) Just giving directions. Hope you all have a great time!
  23. Even though I don't use a Kun-type rest usually (I use a chamois or a small "Sostenuto" cushion, just for grip without lift) I do use the shoulder rest with the Yamaha. It is not ideal, but I agree that without the rest the instrument is too slippery and awkward. The closest I can come to advice is this: I think the Yamaha rest is a 3/4 size Kun rest with the feet removed, so you may be able to experiment with shorter screws by getting parts for a standard (short) 3/4 Kun and swapping them. Making the rest shorter may make it more comfortable. Good luck, and please let us know what you achieve.
  24. From Newark Airport, there is definitely a shuttle service to the Port Authority bus station on the west side of Manhattan. It runs pretty frequently, and the trip is less than 30 minutes under normal traffic conditions. I don't know if there are other shuttles to the east side (which would be closer to Queens) but from Port Authority you can get on the subway and go anywhere you want.