Andrew Victor

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  1. Andrew Victor

    Help me choose a viola, Please!

    What I see in the photo is that the smaller viola has a longer vibrating string length and approximately the same upper-bout width. So the overriding criterion would be the length of the OP's arms - not his age, height or leg length!!!\\
  2. Andrew Victor

    Gut strings? What are those?

    I have been historically informed!! I started playing as a "toddler" in 1939. The only strings I remember were gut and gut-core until the early 1970s when I started to make the move to synthetic-core strings, but I did make several excursions back to gut and gut-core strings over the next 4 decades: Eudoxas and Olives. I still even have a straight set of Olives in the cylindrical tube in my violin case. Even tried some Passiones. Most recently (just a few months ago) I tried a set of Tricolore strings with Goldbrokat E - gave it a few weeks and went back to my set of Evah Pirazzi Gold with my irreplaceable Peter Infeld platinum E I had been using. Truly, my fiddles have never sounded better! I think I am finally finished wasting money with that game! If you are unhappy with your sound and have the bucks to spare - it's your choice!! That's for sure!!
  3. I always remove and replace my violin from the case by holding the neck. I have owned one of my violins for 65 years. If I had played it every day that alone would be close to 50,000 neck holds (surely the removal and replacement in the case is probably more stressful on the instrument than just carrying or holding it). I will admit that I have not played that violin every day in the past 20 years (I have others) - but I'm still pretty sure I have held that violin by the neck at least 25,000 times and the neck (and everything else, except some varnish from touch and sweat wear) is as good as new. The neck is no doubt the best handle for holding and carrying a violin. Holding violin and bow in the same hand is also OK if you hold them properly and don't lose awareness that that is what you are doing. As a right-handed person I always hold them in my left hand (so my right hand is available for emergencies - like falling). Whether my bow points up as in your photo of Hilary Hahn or down as in your other photo depends on the context of the environment and which I deem less hazardous. (One of the business cards I made for my music teaching "business" some years ago had a photo of me taking bows after a concert about 40 years ago holding the violin and bow in front of me in my left hand while supporting that hand with my right hand. [I just checked the card to be sure I'm not mis-remembering.] seeing that, I recall that I also hold the violin and bow together at about mid-chest height in front of me while walking - anything lower or to the side and the bow might hit the floor or something else. It seems to me, however that when carrying a cello (also of necessity by the neck because nothing else is small enough to grab and also in my left hand) I carry the bow in my other hand partly because the cello is heavy enough that I might squeeze the bow too hard and partly because I might drop it or the cello. I have held a few Strads and Guarneri violins for very limited amounts of time and was very aware (after many decades of holding my own instruments as though they were Strads) that I did it the same way as holding my own instruments. All you can do is develop the habit to do this in a proper way so that you treat every instrument with the same respect.
  4. Andrew Victor

    Community orchestra

    Here in the SF Bay area we have the CMNC (Chamber Musicians of Northern California) that communicates things musical to members (and non-members) who have linked by email. Even better -- every year the CMNC holds 3 weekend workshops, rotating from the East Bay to San Francisco to Marin County for members or others who pay the extra bit . I was a member of CMNC for some years but quit as I recognized my playing abilities were fading from my standards. These workshops are coached by top professional chamber ensemble musicians - great experiences. Also our local College of Marin has a symphony orchestra largely composed of adult musicians from the community AND also chamber music classes (if you are going to have an orchestra for the actual college students you have to find sufficient musicians to staff it fully!). I played in that orchestra for 16 years but stopped 6 years ago for various reasons associated with aging. I suppose other community colleges have similar programs. It is worth exploring when you feel ready.
  5. Andrew Victor

    Community orchestra

    Paws - looks like your "new" community orchestra mounts lovely programs. In the 70 years since I started playing in school and community orchestras I have always felt an emotional rush of anticipation before joining a new one. During most of those years I have played regularly in chamber ensembles ranging from violin (or viola, or cello)/piano sonatas, piano trios, and string quartets to a current un-conducted chamber orchestra with up to 30 members (number depending on what the scores call for). It's been a great life. The few times I have moved - once to take a new job and 33 years later to move closer to our kids during our retirement - I have always first checked out the communities to be sure there was an orchestra to play with. For me this was a way to find links to other people who want to play chamber music - which I have also found. Right now I am in a situation where I will miss the concert of my current chamber orchestra (no conductor) next week for an out-of-town family reunion that coincides with the exact concert date and prevents my returning in time to play the concert and I feel a sense of loss. I also plan to miss the final rehearsal to give the rest of the viola section a chance to find their balance without me. Knowing I would miss the concert since we began rehearsing for it I felt kind of disconnected and did not really practice the music - another break from my usual behavior. I really admire your new journey and I hope it brings you great joy.
  6. Andrew Victor

    about crack in carbon fiber bow? another thing

    I agree that a Glasser bow is not worth repairing, but any bow tip can be repaired with fiberglass tape and epoxy. These products can probably be purchased at a local craft or hobby shop. If you use this approach with a valuable bow it will seriously decrease its value, but it will repair the tip. My previous post on this was postd almost 15 years ago at tne bottom of this thread:
  7. Andrew Victor

    Violin finger tapes : Help beginner

    Pawsplus, The smartphone-tuner apps seem to be TOO sensitive. They quickly respond to every twitch of the left-hand fingers and every change in bow pressure; vibrato drives them nuts! The microtuner is less sensitive and responds more slowly so the relatively imperceptible intonation changes are imperceptible to those watching it as well.
  8. Andrew Victor

    Case humidifier

    Many 17th and 18th century instruments made it to the 20th century before there were in-case humidifiers. Not that there are not times when some extra atmospheric moisture would be desirable, but I would suggest using these devices with careful, timely attention to the local environment - and I lived in the Mojave Desert for 33 years with 5 of my current instruments. I did have a Dampit for a while and I think I used it for some dusk-time outdoor gigs there when the temperature was still about 100°F in the shade - and one nighttime open air concert in Death Valley.
  9. Andrew Victor

    Embarrassment of riches and practicing

    When I was a child violin student back in the early 1940s my lesson assignments consisted of some scales, "exercises." and pieces. Pretty much the same thing in the late 1940s when I was a teen cello student - just much faster progress. Pretty much Rue's formula. Starting in my 20s to 40s as an adult I just played the pieces I wanted (on both instruments) and practiced what orchestra and chamber music I needed to not embarrass myself in ensemble playing. Then I participated in a masterclass and was assigned some "remedial" etudes and for the next 5 years I made those my 30 minute practice warmup every day (some 3 octave scales, some Dont etudes and some Paganini caprices. Then I would work on whatever performance music I was hoping to do next and practice "bad parts" until I could get them right 10 times in a row. I would select other etudes to help me improve bowing technique (for whatever trouble areas I was having). It did me a lot of good throughout all of my 40s. (That was 40 years ago - nowadays on rare good days I don't give up in disgust and might actually play whatever I want for up to an hour.) If you are up to it, I recommend getting involved with a music group (i.e., local orchestra or chamber music group). It can provide great incentive and with the right people, even inspiration.
  10. Andrew Victor

    New Helicore strings 'Octave'

    pjham, Thanks for your suggestion to reverse the pegging for the G and C strings with the Sensicore Octave strings. I have just restrung one of my 16" violas with these strings and appreciate your suggestion. I had recently installed Wittner Fine-tune pegs and enlarging the "hole" to fit the Octave C string was a real "piece of work" (the peg material in that region is solid, hard aluminum alloy. I'm amazed at how well the sound has turned out - but as a cellist (also) I do find the C string sound a bit disappointing - but better than I expected. By the way, I have wondered for almost 70 years why the cello C string is not also pegged that way - but I have never had a cello C string break. Maybe it could happen, but I've always changed strings before it did - I think they "go off" for other reasons.
  11. Andrew Victor

    The Swan (Saints-Seans) - On Viola!

    I commented on this beautiful performance at (discussion) where I first heard it. Between this and some subsequent linked Youtube OCTAVE string demonstrations I decided to string my 2nd viola with SENSICORE OCTAVE strings. I received the strings 2 days ago. I had long doubted that a violin or viola could reasonably replicate the deeper sound of a cello but the YouTube experience convinced me. And sure enough, the problem I have encountered are ( 1) the strings (especially the C string) are very thick and I had to enlarge the string hole in the peg (which is no simple task with the aluminum portion of a Wittner fine-tune peg - since the holes in these pegs do not pass through an actual diameter it is a bit tricky ), (2) the strings are very high tension and thus might be tough for some friction pegs to hold the pitch, (3) the strings are quite sensitive to the bow and bow technique - I thought one of my cello bows might be best for it but was surprised toI find the tone seems best and easier to achieve with my ARCUS viola bow than any of my other viola or cello bows. (4) the C string is the only string that does not quite come up to "cello standard" in my opinion. The others are quite good. For me, the rest is in the future - to see if I (with 68 years of cello playing) can actually learn to read base and tenor clef on a chin instrument without stumbling too much (I do have 79 years of violin playing and 43 of on-and-off viola).
  12. Andrew Victor

    New Helicore strings 'Octave'

    I gotta say it: "Esther's playing of La Cygne blew me away. I would not have believed that any strings could sound like that on a violin body. I think I'll buy a set - next problem is to decide which violin to set them up on.
  13. Andrew Victor

    Unexplained left hand problems? Help!

    Since all the nerves in your arms go through your neck, it is possible the problem is in your cervical spine. Have you tried different chin rest or shoulder rest? How do you angle the violin when you play? Would your hand frame work better if you aimed the violin neck more to the left? Those are the thoughts that come to my mind.
  14. Andrew Victor

    Cello sound test

    AtlVcl: There have been times when it is handy to whip over there to the right when up high (down low, geographically), and it is nice not to have to bow that odd note in a completely different way - which was possible on that ancient cello I mentioned.
  15. Andrew Victor

    Cello sound test

    It you can play violin you can learn to play cello well enough to test one in about a one hour lesson! I did, back when I was 14 I was given a cello to prepare to play as a substitute in an adult string quartet 10 days later. I did it - and could read the base clef notes. But my technique was not really good enough to "test" a cello. Although by then I could read and play cello music anywhere in the lowest octave of all the strings. I had my first cello lesson a month after I was first given the cello and there I learned how to properly position the cello relative to my body, how to hold my left hand relative to the neck, and how to hold the cello bow (it is different than the way you hold a violin or violin bow) - and how to vibrato on a cello (also different). That first lesson fixed all those things - I took lessons for the next 2-1/2 years and progressed at about the speed of sound. Of course there was always a great deal more to learn! Still is although I'm too old to learn it now! I bought my most recently acquired cello from Jay Ifshin 13 years ago when he (who is not a cello player) took me into a back room of his shop and played a few notes for me on this new model ("a l'ancienne Rogeri") he was selling. Even though he was not a cellist he could bow and finger it well enough to impress me that I wanted to try it. I bought it! The main problem is that the person behind the cello does not really hear what the instrument sounds like. The lowest tones don't get to the player's ears in proper acoustic balance with the rest of the tones ("The Physics of Musical Instruments" by Fletcher & Rossing, pp 308-309, Springer-Verlag, 1999). I learned this very strikingly when I heard someone else (not nearly as good as I was) play one of my cellos. But the player certainly does hear and feel where the difficulties with responsiveness are (the upper octaves of the C string are almost always problematic - although I did play one ancient instrument [summer of 1964, it had been worth $10,000 in 1960 - probably into the mid-6 figures these days] that had no problem in that range - but none of the new instruments I've played up to about $30,000 (in today's market) were great up there). A violin maker friend of mine would get others to play the instruments he made. They played them in his studio and also in a larger space (actually I was the person who did a lot of that for him). He could play a bit but gave it up to make them instead. In my opinion the book "New Directions in Cello Playing" by Victor Sazer provides good guidance for some of these things. When I returned to more serious efforts of cello playing in my 60s, after 30 years of concentration on violin and much lower-level efforts on cello, I found this book helped me evaluate if the way I was doing things (as I thought I remembered I had been taught) were valid.