4strings

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  1. It happens I heard over the summer about a Barbieri available for sale within a couple of hundred miles from me. I met the owner this week at a concert where I was playing a quick ringer gig, and I have to say, I could hear her instrument quite clearly. When she let me have a quick run over it, it was big, colorful, and quick to respond on all the strings. Post concert and on the way to the case room, with the ops crew clearing the stage around us, is no place for a play test. Still -- very interesting. She herself bought it from a member of a nationally known string quartet, and now needs to let it go, for what seem to me valid personal reasons, and has been putting the word about privately. (This isn't a region where many people throw that kind of money at something like a violin. The market is minuscule, and she hasn't reached out to any dealers yet.) But she doesn't have a certificate, and was advised to send the instrument to Chicago to have it authenticated. I'll get to have it for a nice long trial over a concert block next week. But if it turns out to have a sound I don't want to live without, I'd really want a solid certificate, if possible. Can any of you advise as to who I should consult? Thanks!
  2. Well, this is interesting. Here I thought those who changed strings after three or four months generally did so because they like that "new string" sound, not because the old strings were actually shot. Thanks for this feedback -- J
  3. I've tried Vision Titanium in both solo and orchestral "strengths". I liked them both. I think the "orchestral" are easier to get started - easier to move, and perhaps easier for my neighbors in the orchestra to put up with ;-), since my violin is powerful in itself. I can blend better, but project just fine when it's necessary. If I only ever played solos, I would use the Vision Ti Solos. However, with both string sets there is a gradual decline in quality of the sound, and after about four months, there is a sudden drop down to absolute deadness, manifested in a reluctance to start producing sound, and complete lack of color and depth. I even thought maybe I had a seam open, the first time this happened, but here it is again, after a similar interval. I tried Evahs on this violin a while back, and they don't do as well as these Ti's. On the other hand, on my former violin, the Evahs were absolutely perfect, and the Ti's were absolutely gross. I'm going to get another set of Titaniums, probably the orchestra ones, for the time being. After all, they won't last but 4 months, tops, so I'm not committing for six months or a year. But does anyone know of a similar string that has a longer lifespan, and keeps all the color and power? Not maybe for a year, but for more than four months? This is getting pricey.... Thanks, Joan
  4. Welcome, Lilylynne. I think T_D's comments are right on, from his and your perspectives as leaders. He's writing about being the kind of concertmaster who makes me most comfortable, as a section player. From my perspective a stand or two back in the section, I'd say that I personally would not appreciate rehearsals being interrupted by other section players making suggestions to the leaders. There is no time for that, and it might make it necessary to waste still more time adjusting bowings for other sections. I think other players feel the same. I notice that when section players speak up in this way - it's very rare in our orchestra, as a more professional tone is set by the conductor and the attentive attitudes of section leaders - other players tend to stare at their stands or their instruments in embarrassed silence. Since your orchestra seems somewhat less formal now, maybe a slightly different tone could be set by the conductor. You might discuss the waste of rehearsal time with him, and ask that he respectfully intervene when your - ahem, "rivals?" - interrupt, and decline unnecessary "improvements" on your bowings, perhaps even with the explanation that there isn't time, if he feels he must explain. Or with whatever other disarming but quashing comment seems appropriate. You may be concertmaster, but the Conductor hopefully is qualified to be regarded as El Supremo, and needs to act like it, just as you do. Good luck! Hope your job gets easier. I think it's unconscionable that you have to bow parts during rehearsals. Joan
  5. There's a lot of great advice here already, but I want to add "hear, hear" to Lymond's shifting advice, and T_D's point about relaxing. When I have learned something well up to a certain speed, and have to get over the bump, I find it essential to slow my breathing and do some mental relaxation - close eyes, breathe deeply, open eyes, and with a spirit of calm, jack that metronome up one more notch and let the fingers dance on the end of a smooth-moving (not too excited) arm. It's almost foolproof.
  6. quote: Originally posted by: NeoScherzo Ill try to give the teachers on the list she gave me a ring, maybe one of them will be available. Get some of that word-of-mouth input and start calling the top recommendations!! Some music teachers don't like to "play favorites," or don't feel, politically, that they can, so they won't tell you if someone who's put themselves on the list really shouldn't be there. Personally, I have no compunction about it. I positively refuse to recommend any student work with a teacher who doesn't teach the very best technique. But as a private teacher, I have that liberty. You've got to check with other students. And if none of the top, say, three, has openings soon, then book yourself with one of them as soon as they're open. If you have to work with someone further down the list in the meantime, be sure you tell them how long you'll be needing lessons; if they don't like it, say you're sorry and move on. It's SO worth it to get an excellent teacher! I've taken students who are only going to be around for a few months, because they're moving on to other places, generally distant colleges. I just do my best to get them ready for the situation they'll be entering; it's understood from the beginning that I'm not going to be a long-term teacher for these students. Looking forward to hearing how it goes... J
  7. Neo, You're the kind of student I'd love to have. Yes, you can do it. You want to make music, after all. It's probably too late to get to the point where you could make a living at it (this is what most people mean when they say it's "too late to start"), but it is most certainly not too late to get very, very good indeed, and to enjoy yourself immensely. One summer when I was at Interlochen, long long ago, another girl there had started at the age of 14 and was playing in the upper division orchestra and doing very well, thank you. [Edit: she was maybe 18 at the time.] She worked hard because for her there was a lot of joy in the "work." It didn't feel like work. Even at 17, if you work at it, there's no reason that you can't become a string teacher yourself, if you want. Which is one way to make a living at it. First of all, I think you should find a teacher. Teachers (good ones) can help you get a solid foundation from the start, and see things you're doing that you won't know about, no matter how many videos you watch and how many instruction books you read, which will get in your way and have to be corrected later. Maybe you are lucky and the person running your school's string program is a good teacher. Watch him or her play, and you might be able to tell a lot. Go see this person after school, tell about your interest; I would be surprised if Teacher's eyes don't light up! This teacher might be willing to give you a couple of free trial lessons, to see if you like the experience. (I would.) Then you might be able to get lessons from this teacher, or maybe a referral to a good teacher in your area. Good luck! I hope you will let us know how you're doing. Joan
  8. Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of being a judge at a high school solo and ensemble festival, and worked with small ensembles. Bless their hearts, some were great and some were very unprepared. But my favorite performance of the day, one I will remember for a long time, was a bass and violin duet of a little Dancla polka-like piece. The violinist's technique was absolutely awful, but he somehow managed to play well enough in tune that I could tell what the true pitches were supposed to be, and he and she (the bassist) both obviously loved what they were playing. It was great stuff, and they made my day. I think (and told them) that with the joy they have in what they're doing, it seems to me that they have all the inspiration and kick they need to get to the next level; to make changes, one by one, that will allow them to develop what they want out of music. Bless the teacher who found them that piece, and who encouraged them to enjoy it with the technique they had, rather than belaboring them with technical issues as I (perfectionist of Nordic origins) most likely would have done. This was an eye-opener to me; I'll be thinking about the implications for some time now.
  9. Quick reply, just to say it was indeed an April Fool. Also, it is interesting (and good) to know the foam plugs have a fairly high attenuation - any idea how much? I think even though they're "just" foam, they saved my sanity a couple of years ago when I took my teens to a rock concert. The level of noise in there stimulated a fight-or-flight reaction in me, and only the ear plugs made it possible for me to endure. (Of course I made the kids wear plugs too.) I don't even like to listen to music turned up loud in my home. My husband wonders how I can stand playing in symphony, and thinks my sensitivity to sound coming from speakers is inconsistent. But I feel that in the orchestra, the sound feels more dispersed and less intensely directed. Probably I should still wear some kind of plugs, but as I'm on the outside edge of the firsts, it's not as bad as when I've been more in the interior of the group.
  10. Even "out-of-shape" teachers should be able to hold and use the equipment without gross errors, while personal idiosyncracies and adaptations made for physiological reasons should be understood and, if necessary, explained, since they cannot be applied to all students. Fundamentally flawed technique means this person cannot be a master teacher, or even a competent teacher, no matter how well he can explain, especially if he performs badly as well. I'm seldom so absolute in my opinions, but I've had too many students come from ill-informed backgrounds - students who have talent that could have been better directed, and who now have to slave at making changes. All of which should have been unnecessary.
  11. Thanks lots, Bob. The cannon thing was an April Fool's joke, as on second and third reading I decided it must be. I too tried to find that long thread, and tried two or three search strings, but couldn't seem to be clever enough to remember the right words to bring it up. So I thought I'd ask again. In spite of the lack of necessity for speed, I'm still going to go to Etymotic and look for some of those plugs. Thanks for that lead too. They should be useful for the occasional loud gig, not to mention the lawnmower...
  12. Just got an email from our conductor, who says the April "Ode to Freedom" concert, featuring Beethoven No. 9 and Wellington's Victory, is going to be staged with real cannons (Civil War re-enactment folks firing), placed in the boxes to the right and left of the stage, and therefore right above my head. He says they'll be supplying ear plugs, but I bet they're going to be those little foam plugs. These have certainly been helpful, as far as I can tell, when we've had guitar players with big fat amps in the middle of the orchestra. But I wonder how effective they truly are. This whole scenario scares me. Does anyone know what attenuation is attained with well-seated foam plugs? Should I hurry up and find somewhere to order more effective ones? Recommendations for where to get some, if necessary? I don't have time (or money) for a custom-fit appointment. I'm not worried about not being able to hear all the frequencies, or getting all the feedback I normally get from my instrument and those around me. I just want protection. Thanks in advance for the best practical advice you can give-- Joan [Who is wondering if this is our conductor's idea of an April Fool's joke.... but even if it is, it would be helpful to know how protective those foam plugs are....]
  13. 4strings

    Scales

    "Scales for Advanced Violinists," by Barbara Barber. Rather like a condensed Flesch and Galamian, and not too expensive. Also available for viola.
  14. Allan, What do you mean when you say, "the cheap ones are almost worthless, because when volume reaches a certain level they just close off." Close off? Does this mean the cheap foam freebies my orchestra keeps in the wings do not help at all when things get loud? It *felt* like they helped...
  15. I had a mentor once upon a time, an elderly and very experienced teacher, who felt no compunction about changing those fingerings to suit my smaller hand. I still attacked the etude using the given fingerings. After all, it was an etude and I figured I was supposed to learn something, or at least challenge and try to extend my technique. But the fingerings my guide suggested did make it go more smoothly, and if I were performing it, I'd use the modified fingerings, in service of the music. For an audience I think music is first.