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KillinKatz

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  1. Indeed, but this is still based on the belief that the 'secret' -- if there is one -- is based on something material. If it is, then it could be tested, measured, recorded; in fact, everything material about a Strad has been tested, measured, recorded over and over again [hasn't it?]. Let's pose the question, that if Joe Smith had the same quality of materials and woodworking skill as Michael Darnton, would his violins sound like Michael's? Of course not, they would sound like Joe Smith's. Can any living maker craft a violin that sounds as good as a Strad? Depends on who's listening. Can anyone today craft an instrument that look's and sounds like a Strad? Only if Stradivari were alive today. Am I full of hooey? Probably!
  2. Well, hello, ex-neighbor! Strange, we're less than a mile from the border with Mansfield. To us, this is Hicksville; we used to live in East Hartford. Now, we can actually see the stars at night.
  3. Okay Jimmy, now I have got to read that book. I admit my comment in the other thread about Galamian not being able to 'play a lick' was based on ignorance and accounts from a few of his detractors. Normally I don't like to shoot from the hip, so to speak. My bad... I agree that the best teachers know how to recognize talent and potential in a student, and how to guide the student to unlock their own potential. Galamian and others obviously had a gift for this. Inversely, how does a student learn to recognize the potential of a teacher?
  4. Adam, thanks for bringing this up. I've lost track of so much since becoming a Dad and moving! I live in Ashford, CT, a nice little northeast hick town. I'm a network administrator for an insurance agency, and dabble with violin on the side. I love to play, but I am more fascinated with how stringed instruments are made and how they work, so I am teaching myself the art of repair and restoration. All of these extracurricular activities are on hold somewhat, because I have much more fun interacting with my 10-month-old. ~Dave PS: Those who have heard me play are well acquainted with the meaning behind my screen name.
  5. Ooh, I love a good roast! Honestly, though, I've never watched Stephen's videos, or listened to his clips, and I am not in any way experienced enough to say whether what he says/does is correct, but from his written word (the non-provocative text, that is) he knows more by far than any of the mediocre 'teachers' I have been exposed to over the years. I could care less where/with whom he has toured, as long as he has the ability to bring out the best in a student. The absence of a long list of accomplished alumni is not an indication of failure as a teacher. Galamian only took the best students, and had a reputation for bringing out the best in them, though by all accounts he could not play a lick. And I'm not saying Mr. Redrobe is on par with Galamian. He may have an inflated opinion of himself, but from what I've seen, he has only presented himself currently as a teacher, not a performer. Regardless, I would reserve judgment regarding his effectiveness as a teacher until I was able to have a few lessons with him personally (i.e. not just from videos). His mentor, Mr. Freedman, on the other hand... Wow! What a Zigeunerweisen!
  6. In my very limited experience, no, not really... My latest teacher emphasized that if one can vibrato well with a shoulder rest, and poorly without one, something else is fundamentally wrong. He demonstrated this by playing with shoulder rest, without shoulder rest, and without chinrest, all equally well. What a shoulder rest can (and should, if applied necessarliy and correctly) help with is ergonomics, not technique.
  7. So, how does one perform fourth-finger vibrato when the pinky is fully extended? On a single note I suppose you could just shift your hand slightly so the pinky curves, but what about on double-stops, especially wide intervals? You can tell I'm not advanced, or I might have figured this out...
  8. Yes Justen, spelling was the problem, thanks. Molad, do you have any pricing information?
  9. Last time I checked, these were available for violin... Now the site appears to be down. Unfortunately, I believe I may be in the majority when I say I'm hesitant to shell out the cash until I've read some feedback. Has anybody decided to bite the bullet and cough up the dough for a set of Pegheads yet (for any instrument), and if so, could you share your experience? Thanks.
  10. 4, 5 and 6 would all apply. Of course they would; everyone knows it's the artist, not the instrument!
  11. All this practice of relaxation and playing restless and balance and counterbalance, etc., has revealed my most powerful adversaries -- gravity and tension! The tendency of the violin to slide off the shoulder, and of the scroll to fall toward the floor, all must be countered. This may be initially remedied with the friction of the chin against the instrument and, possibly, the use of a chamois or foam pad. While this should allow a person to walk around for hours without supporting the neck with the left hand, that changes as soon as one applies downforce to stop the strings. Some counterforce is necessary, correct? Applying more clamping force with the chin & shoulder seems dangerous as well as ineffective. If we adhere to the teaching that the violin (or viola) neck is supported in a "V" created by the thumb and the base of the index finger, this creates two contact points on the neck. During shifting and vibrato, are these points still in contact with the neck? If not, it seems you would have to tighten the chin/shoulder grip on the instrument lest the scroll falls toward the ground (or deeper into the groove of the aforementioned "V"); conversely, if contact is maintained, you would still have to tighten the chin/shoulder grip, lest the instrument be pulled away during a downshift, or shaken about during vibrato. There seems no way to avoid it. While it may be fine to clamp down momentarily during a quick shift, that does not seem advisable during vibrato due to sustained tension in the neck and shoulder. So, how do you perform vibrato, while providing sufficient support to counter the downforce of the fingers on the string, while keeping your neck loose to avoid tension, and while keeping your left hand loose to avoid pulling the instrument back and forth? Is the base of the index finger supposed to be removed from contact with the neck? And should the thumb act as a pivot at it's contact point with the neck? I know I should go see my teacher, but it will be at least a month or two before I can. In the meantime, perfection is taunting me...
  12. The biggest discovery is that any problems with squeezing and tension are intensified and exposed. I had no idea I was so tense! Now, I'm forced to relax, as shifting and vibrato become almost impossible otherwise. Holding the instrument becomes more of a balancing act, requiring specific placement of the left hand and just the slightest touch on the neck of the instrument. It becomes a whole-body awareness sort of thing, and at one point, when by some miracle I got it right, I could actually remove my chin from the violin and look around. It also became apparent that I MUST relax my vibrato, lest I shake the instrument to pieces! Returning to playing 'rested' after this exercise gives the feeling of restriction, to a point. More security, but less freedom.
  13. Performance Today is a radio program on NPR. I wish I was able to listen to it at work, but alas... Hilary's Vuillaume seems to be a perfect match for her; she has such a gorgeous, mesmerizing tone!
  14. Could it be that we who lack prominent jawbones are better suited to the relatively flat, "humpless" chinrests, or none at all? I find that sans-chinrest is by far the most comfy arrangement I have tried, but all I have are some rather deeply-cupped Guarneri-style over-the-tailpiece type rests. I'd love to try a Flesch no-hump, if I could find one locally...
  15. This pertains to local teachers with whom I have had experience, not to the folks on this board! After a few so-called 'teachers' who force their own rigid 'one-size-fits-all' ideas down their students' throats, this guy is quite refreshing. I have a teacher who, unfortunately, lives far away, thus I cannot visit him often (but he's worth the trip when I can make it). I had several questions for him with regards to left hand position, right hand position, shoulder rests, bow arm, vibrato, you name it. He has the same standard answers for most everything: Left-Hand: Should the thumb be under the neck, beside the neck, opposite the middle finger, or what? His answer: Don't worry about what the thumb is doing. It goes along for the ride. Place all your fingers on the string, so that you can reach all the notes properly, and keep them arched and reasonably relaxed. Don't squeeze or force! Notice your elbow below the violin, and how the hand sits, where the thumb 'rests' (emphasis on rests); that's the position that's right for your hand. (Geez! Nobody else ever told me that, and goshdaggit, it works ) Right-hand and bow: Should I use Russian grip, Franco-Belgian, etc? Answer: Use 'your' grip! Your hand is different from anyone else's. Stay flexible, keep fingers on the bow such that they allow you control of the weight from tip to frog, and most importantly, don't drop it! Furthermore, finding the 'sweet spot' (sounding point) is diffferent on every instrument, and once you have it, use just the weight of the bow to excite the string. Never tense up, never force! Shoulder Rests: Yes or no? His answer: Both! Yes and no! Do whatever keeps the violin well-positioned, secure and free at the same time. Never clamp! Never force or squeeze, you must be relaxed! But before you decide whether or not to use a shoulder rest, be sure your left fingers are correctly positioned on the string, and test your bowing angle. Is the violin too flat, too slanted? Try a different chinrest, or no chinrest at all! It's best to have freedom of movement, but your body is different from anybody else's, so experiment a great deal to find what is most ergonomic for you. (He, by the way, can play equally wonderfully with or without a chinrest, shoulder rest, whatever. Proof that there's no single way to do it!) Vibrato: Wrist, arm, finger, etc? His reply: What on earth is all that? Nonsense. Focus on the finger's contact point with the string! You'll see the motion of the fingertip that's required to achieve the effect. From there, the rest of the finger, the hand, the forearm, they just go along for the ride. Relax! Stay loose, and your vibrato, indeed your entire playing, will be more alive! There's more, of course, but the underlying lessons I learned had nothing to do with mechanics, actually. His main points: 1) Relaxation! 2) Focus mentally on the sound you wish to achieve, and let your body respond. 3) The left hand does the will of the right hand, and the bow is the expressive force. This of course is not all-encompassing, but for me this was refreshing. Any thoughts?
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