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Stephen Fine

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Everything posted by Stephen Fine

  1. Stripping a Widhalm's varnish and reapplying something store-bought is pretty wild behavior, but I guess things were different 70 years ago. Neat.
  2. I'd call it a camping violin or a pocket fiddle or a pochette or dancing master's fiddle if you're feeling fancy. You might find some variety trying different models of vielles. But I think the answer to your question is "no." They are what they are.
  3. I try not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good when thinking about government. But, really we are talking apples and oranges here. Canada funds the arts very well, so I'm sure there's a ton of misappropriated funds, corruption, etc... Such is the way when big money is involved. In the U.S., we are talking about a pittance. The U.S. is... 9x larger than Canada by population? And Canada spends about 2x on the Arts Council what we spend on the NEA. I'm curious... how rural is it where you are? What is the arts scene like? Community orchestra? Theater? Museums? What's around in the Prairies?
  4. I already offer lessons at a discounted rate to those who can't pay. If the US government wanted to continue giving people a child tax credit (tied, ideally, to viola lessons), more people could afford to buy viola lessons for their children. Rue, how much research have you done into the topic of where arts funding goes? I hope quite a bit for you to become skeptical and disillusioned. But, I imagine that, in fact, you've been presented with a few cherry-picked cases to create your skepticism. I hope you'll do a deeper dive on what Canada spends per capita on the arts, the artists it benefits, and the public who takes advantage. Can't say I'm an expert on Canadian Arts Funding, but the website is informative: https://canadacouncil.ca/research/stats-and-stories And, personally, I've had friends take advantage of Canadian public funds and prizes. Sometimes, arts funding only benefits a few people, I'm part of a group whose mission is to bring music to rural locations without much access. Shouldn't smaller communities have access to art too? Or are we only caring about the efficiency of the market?
  5. I don't know what you consider a high salary, but we do fine. Of course, there's also the issue of who attends a music school in the first place... But for me, the issue is paying for what we value in society. The USA seems to have no problem throwing endless billions away on weapons. It's hard to imagine what our country would look like if we spent on the arts what other civilized nations do. My favorite statistic was that the government of France used to spend on one opera house more than the entire US National Endowment for the Arts. Population France: 68 million, Population USA: 330 million PS- I'll expand a bit on "we do fine." Even the greatest among us tend to teach to make money. It's always been this way. Mozart taught. Beethoven taught. Etc... Even in uncertain economies, people want to pay for lessons for their children. And with the current wave of boomer retirees, I've been teaching more lessons to adults than ever before. My rate is $65/hr as a teacher. In bigger cities, my friends are charging $90 or $100/hr. We are highly valued by the market.
  6. Any "workshop" instrument I'd assume is imported in the white from elsewhere with lower labor costs. As you say, I'm hoping the shop will be clear.
  7. In the case of the Cremonese instrument in question, I just received an email back from the maker who reports master-made instruments at the price point I'd expect and then "handmade workshop" instruments for students. So, now it's up to the shop to tell my student what's what...
  8. I'd like whatever shop I'm buying an instrument from to be clear on this question.
  9. What's special about any violin? They're all carved out of wood in roughly the same shape and size. Usually, I wouldn't want to buy a shop instrument from Cremona because you're paying a premium for the "Cremona" printed on the label, but there's no reason a shop instrument can't be a superior product. It's about materials, skill, method, and care.
  10. Yeah... that was my second thought. I have nothing against shop instruments. In fact, in my student's price range, it's what I thought I'd be mostly seeing. But it seems like that information should be presented up front to the consumer.
  11. I told my student to ask about the Cremona instrument's papers. If it doesn't have any, I'll contact the maker directly. Your thought about items priced-to-move on consignment was definitely my first thought.
  12. Now, to confuse things further... a couple more instruments have entered the mix. A violin with a turn-of-the-20th-century Hungarian label from a Hungarian who didn't make violins. So, I assume he imported it for sale, but the shop tells my students it's by the maker... guy is not mentioned as a violin maker, so it seems unlikely. It is what I'd call overpriced. And, a recent instrument by a maker in Cremona in perfect condition that seems about half price of what I'd expect a contemporary violin, let alone one from Cremona to sell for. I'm definitely learning that I didn't understand the market as well as I thought I did.
  13. Yeah... my impression of the market before now was that higher quality was available at a lower price than it used to be. That's what I thought, yes. Right, that's what I thought. I assumed any dealer would have their source for high grade shop instruments that they'd import in the white or whatever. Hmm...
  14. I know used cars are very expensive right now. Have violins seen a rapid price increase over the past few years? I'm helping a student shop for a violin to take college auditions on, so this is a big step up for her. We've been looking in the $4,000-$8,000 range which I expected would get her a nice new shop instrument from somewhere. It seems to me that in this price range, if you shop enough you should be able to find something. However... I've spoken with a few shops now who suggested to me that $4,000-$8,000 is now on the low end of quality instrument pricing and that students applying to music school should be looking at $10,000-$20,000 instruments. That is not an option for my student. She currently has out on trial a 20th century Markie in decent condition that the shop is asking $8,000 for. It's a reasonable sounding instrument, but I would've expected it to sell closer to $5,000? Am I out of touch with the market? Who the heck are $4,000-$8,000 violins for? I can tell the difference between a $100 violin and a $500 violin. A $500 and a $1000 violin. Is there no difference between $1,000 and $5,000 any longer?
  15. In the vein of Paganini, Ernst, Ysaÿe... holy crap. Some of the close-up hand shots are priceless. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW6N0BDAnN0
  16. You're allowed (and encouraged) to play the "for sale" violins, I believe.
  17. Usually they want to invite you back to their place for... drinks and conversation and the opportunity to brag and hear you play their fancy thing. Occasionally they're aiming for more (I've heard one story), but usually it's just the innocent enthusiasm of a super-rich amateur.
  18. When is "open more doors" not metaphorical? We are never talking about literal doors but about career opportunities when we say "that'll open doors for you." It's easy for me to imagine being schmoozed by a wealthy donor with a Strad. Having a Strad must be a nice conversation opener with any great (or mediocre) violinist. And so many concert bookers are musicians themselves.
  19. I attended a Tafelmusik workshop where they brought in a Baroque dance teacher for the Bach Suites. Very enlightening. Highly recommended.
  20. A remarkable staging of one of my favorites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGSctM_8K_E
  21. Yup... that's another spot that can make me well up. Is it the most beautiful moment in chamber music? Maybe.
  22. I'll take a look, thanks. If I've done it properly, I come nearly to tears at the end of Britten's Lachrymae. It's such a journey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f812BcDblsA
  23. That level of repertoire is such a pleasure to play. It's fun music no matter how easy. I met a teacher recently who told me about how he gives new advanced students "the Book 3" test. If they can't sound phenomenal on an "easy" piece (something much simpler than de Beriot), something fundamental needs to be fixed. The true art of the violinist is not in pyrotechnics, but in drawing a beautiful tone and playing a beautiful line. Precise, intentional bow articulations, "perfect" intonation, and a variety of vibratos and bow colors... that is the violinist who makes people "oooh" and "aahhhh" as much as the violinist who can play with extraordinary accuracy at great speed. The accuracy-at-great-speed thing only comes with many hours of work every single day. Also, when advanced students tell me they want to learn a concerto that I tell them they're not ready for yet, I tell them that the way to convince me I'm wrong is to show up to the lesson with the first page or two in decent shape, ready to work on. If you think you're ready for bigger concertos, the whole of de Beriot No. 9 should take you a week or two of good practice.
  24. I struggle so much with playing the Brahms string quartets. I love Brahms so I'm certain it's my fault, but somehow his string quartet grammar isn't part of my vernacular. But, then, I haven't spent the time on them that I have on the trio/quintet and sextets. I think in the trio, the piano takes pressure off of having only 2 other voices. He's able to vary the texture so widely. The Clarinet Quintet is definitely in my Top 10 list of chamber works.
  25. Students aren't employees. But, clearly, the judge agreed with you. I just said it's an interesting legal issue RE: student speech on campus. Obviously, libel should not be protected speech. I'm just not sure that the university needed to be punished with punitive damages.
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