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Stephen Fine

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  1. I’ve been using one for a year (or has it been 2 years now?) and I’m still impressed. As Steve mentions, its only weakness is for outdoor gigs, where sun glare can make it hard to read. I have the pencil too, but a finger works just as well I think. I like my Donner page turner. For a traveling musician it’s so nice to travel without stacks of music. I bought an Otterbox case and never take it out. forScore is a great app for creating clearly fingered and bowed parts. It’s the first piece of tech hardware I’ve bought in years that has amazed me with its beauty and utility.
  2. Peter Shaw is in Houston at Amati Violins right around the corner from the Shepherd School.
  3. It's not a kids show (I'd classify it as a teen drama), but are adults usually inspired in that way? Arglebargle, are any of the new cellists studying with the same teacher? Also, Ortega's cello miming skills are hands-down the best I've ever seen on screen by a non-player. She blows Russel Crowe's efforts in Master and Commander out of the water and he (supposedly) took lessons for 3 months. I was stunned to learn that she hadn't had a few years of lessons.
  4. Last month I did something I hadn't done before, rented some time in a local music studio to record a performance of Milhaud's Quatre Visages with my friend, the pianist, Alan Clark. I'm quite pleased with the final product although my original plan of fixing small issues of intonation and sound production in post-production was thwarted by my misunderstanding of that process (the use of multiple microphones led to issues of phasing that I didn't know how to overcome). But given that the whole vibe of the performance is informal, I don't really mind a note out of place here and there. These little movements each represent a face of a fictional woman: from California, Wisconsin, Brussels, and Paris. The French-Jewish composer Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), one of Les Six, was commissioned by the Belgian player Germain Prévost (founding violist of the Pro Arte Quartet) in 1943 and these jazzy "four faces" have been popular with violists ever since. Milhaud was a talented violist himself (he performed the premiere of Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp) and his familiarity with the instrument shines through. In 1940, Milhaud and his wife fled the Nazis and settled in Oakland, CA where he composed while teaching at Mills College. The Pro Arte Quartet had a summer residency at Mills and a residency at the University of Wisconsin which explains the locations. I hope you enjoy! They're delightful!
  5. Great stuff, everyone. You've made me feel better about my rambling answer because I said a lot of this! I think a large part of the difficulty of practicing is our imperfect proprioception. Perceiving your self as you actually are versus how you think you are is very difficult. This is why using a mirror or a recording device or (ideally) a teacher is so helpful. I like "Aim small, miss small." I'll add it to my list of truisms: 1. Never practice for your anxiety. 2. Slow makes fast; fast makes sloppy. An influential book for me, one that was popular in the Tuttle studio, is Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. It helped me to learn that if your goal is to hit a bullseye, you'd best aim for your self. It's a very short and interesting book detailing a German philosopher's encounter with Awa Kenzô (阿波研造), a master of Zen and Kyūdō.
  6. Who are the American makers selling their violas for $3,000-$6,000? I've been shopping with/for students lately, and that has not been my observation. I've seen nice workshop instruments for sale in that price range, but bench made instruments are in the $8,000-$20,000 range.
  7. At the end of lessons I always ask, "Do you have any other questions?" Almost all of my students always say, "No." But, I have one who usually has a good question either about repertoire, posture, technique, or practice. Today he asked me, "What should my mindset be while practicing?" Obviously, it's a very general question, and, as I told him, mindset shifts throughout a practice session, but what would your answers be to the question? I rambled for a while while trying to answer his question, but I think the heart of my answer was to "trust in the method, don't allow frustration to dictate how you practice."
  8. I just saw a Tiny Desk Concert with a gentleman playing a greenish-blue violin that I thought was a lovely color. The band had a funny name: beabadoobee
  9. Whoa. That's an unusually low estimate. 16.5" is a standard enough size. Mysterious.
  10. There are 11 grades (I-R to XI-R), right? My viola is 6 (VI-R) and has the print label. So... maybe not just the top 2 or 3?
  11. My EH Roth viola from Markneukirchen, August 1931, VI-R uses the "Art Deco" label.
  12. Weird. Or, at least it sounds weird to me. Maybe some luthiers will educate us, but I'd think that a new bridge would be more standard practice than steaming, building up the feet, and sanding down the top.
  13. For $10,000 you should be getting something truly excellent. It has been remarked on for the past several years here that Roth instruments are surprisingly collectible (which is to say, perhaps a little bit ahead of the rest of the market). So, I can imagine, if the violin is one of their higher-end models and if it's a great player, it's a reasonable price. But, as with all investments, the past should not be assumed to inform the future. You may discover if you ever want to resell it that it has barely held its value or even depreciated. Make sure you try the violin in a few different spaces: small, large, reverberant, dead... Have a friend or teacher play it for you so you can hear it from 10-20 feet away. Ask the shop about their trade-in policy.
  14. I've done a version of that, there was a quiz online a few years ago asking "Is this painting by a famous modern artist or by an Elementary school child?" It was very fun because of how difficult it was. It was curated to be difficult, but it still got your point across. Another version of this experiment (what makes modern art art?) is a piece I saw at a gallery a while ago, a recreation of Jannis Kounellis's Untitled (12 horses) which is simply live horses tethered in a gallery space with hay and horse poop, etc... It forces you to ask yourself the questions: what makes something art? Is something art just because it's in a gallery? Is "art" just your own state of mind?
  15. Knowing that he's a legend might make you think twice about how quickly you reached your conclusion though? He's a notable "deep thinker" and was steeped in the art world, so, not uneducated in the least. I'd agree that anyone composing a piece now that included violin smashing isn't particularly "fresh" but back in 1962 it was. The performer's post is worth reading if you didn't read it. He and his wife came to the conclusion that it was "bad" art, but Fluxus was a product of the times and I can imagine a different critical analysis in the early 60s.
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