Andrew Victor

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  1. Violin Bow pernambuco

    Are older pernambuco bows dark in color because they are old, or is it because that's the way they were made? My F.N. Voirin, Albert N├╝rnberger, and Richard Weichold bows are all well over 100 years old and dark, but so are both of my Paul Martin Siefried bows and my Seifert bows- latter half of 20th and early 21st century. I've also got a dark viola bow stamped C. Bazin, but I'm pretty sure it's newish and probably Asian. The Morgan Anderson bows I've seen have been very light - are they going to go dark in another 60 - 80 years?
  2. Galamian Violin Hold

    Perlman has very large hands. The average violinist cannot follow his example. Each player must adapt their own physique to the (practically) fixed size and shape of violins. In my own experience I found the same things about vibrato and shoulder rests as Kavakos. I did not start to play with a shoulder rest until I had been playing for about 30 years. It stabilized my violin for arm vibrato in 1st & 2nd positions. A neck injury at age 55 forced me to switch to a wrist vibrato, something I found difficult to do in the lower positions - took me years. Even now - 28 years later - it takes me a while to warm up to it every day (for some reason I find it easier on viola - maybe big hands and long arms).
  3. Arm Vibrato Causes Tendonitis!?

    I was taught to use arm vibrato, but a neck injury when I was 50 caused partial (temporary) paralysis of parts of my left arm that kept me from playing violin for a year. When I resumed playing I could no longer do arm vibrato. Wrist and finger vibrato at third position and above were easily developed, but it pretty much took me 25 years to get a semblance of wrist vibrato in 1st & 2nd position (for some strange reason I find it a bit easier on viola). My cello vibrato capability resumed about a year after the neck injury and remains to this day. I'm in my 80s now and my advice is that if you plan to play for the rest of your life, as I do, develop a wrist vibrato now; it takes a lot less energy. You can start in 3rd position - it is virtually a natural thing to do - so is "finger vibrato" in 5th and above.
  4. Shaky bow arm

    Softpaws, I took what you said as advice and bought some phosphatidylserine from Amazon. It seems to work for me. Thanks.
  5. Violin finger tapes : Help beginner

    The pitch sounds the vibration of the string between the bridge and the highest place on the fingerboard that your finger allows it to vibrate-it is not the middle of your finger. The use of tapes is never more than an approximation to help you develop and your brain to remember how to "block" your finger positions. If you use the tapes when playing some of the early pieces in Suzuki Book 1 (with familiar tunes) it can help you set up your hand properly - but ultimately you always have to depend on your ears. The tapes should be removed as soon as you have learned where all 4 fingers go to be in tune. Actually, when I had to tape fingerboards for students, I never taped the 4th finger. I figured that by the time the students got to using their 4th fingers it was time to remove all the tapes "and set them free."
  6. Getting the g to speak

    I had 2 violins with troublesome G strings above the 1st octave harmonic. This problem went away for both violins when I switched to Thomastik Peter Infeld strings with the Platinum-coated E string of the set. Subsequently I switched A/D/G strings to Vision-Solo and later to Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold. As long as I kept those Platinum E strings on the G strings continued to be great. The PI nickel-plated E string did not have the same curative properties. My 2 other violins have always had fine G string behavior, but I have treated them to the PI -Pt E strings also and everything is copacetic.
  7. I'm asking about the Carl Sandner ("Stradivari copie") cello I bought from Studio City Music in 1964. Paul Toenniges was still the owner but the sale was made by a young man named Hans Benning, recent bridegroom at the time ,of Paul's daughter, and now the "old man" at the shop. The list price at the time was $500 (I was given a substantial "teacher discount"). Although the label is signed in ink by Carl Sandner, there is no date. Henley's "Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers" lists Carl Sandner among the many names over the years from that family and mentions his making in 1960 and shows a (facsimile) undated/unsigned label.I took that cello along with me around 1998-2000 when I visited Frank Passa while I was looking for a cello that I preferred (after Passa had "stroked" and retired from his shop in San Francisco and moved to Santa Rosa). I tried an ancient cello Frank had (with a big knot in the back), but it had the same problems as mine (he still had lots of stock there in his house). Frank said my "Sandner" was "his best model." I had struggled with this cello for many years, (untold numbers of string combinations, new tailpieces, new endpins, new bows, various wolf suppressors). About 50 years after I bought it I finally got it to where I wanted (short of a few hundred thousand dollars more cello) with a Krentz wolf eliminator .I wonder here if anyone is familiar with this cello maker/model and what they might be selling for these days. I'm not planning to sell it - but you never know. I know that many currently made Sandner instruments are being sold as student instruments, in competition with Asian products.
  8. Cheap but OK-ish 'Baroque' bows?

    I bought one of these from Amazon last year: Vio Music#709 Old German Baroque Style Beautiful Snakewood 4/4 Violin Bow. It seems OK to me, they still sell it for $95. It is shorter and lighter than "a modern bow." If your hair is too loose, remove some (maybe 5 hairs at a time) cut from inside to keep the ribbon wide and uniform. Fewer hairs with the same stick distortion mean more tension in the remaining hairs. For baroque music, especially Bach, you might want a "soft" feel that allows you to play 3 & 4 string chords without "whipping" them.
  9. Shaky bow arm

    As Jim said, there are meds. My doctor prescribed both beta blocker and Gabapentin (not taken together), but neither is specifically for this affliction. I find neither completely effective and both can have annoying side effects for some people - including me.
  10. Shaky bow arm

    A medical doctor might be able to diagnose your symptoms. You may have "essential tremor' (also called "familial tremor" - does anyone else in your family have this problem). Your experience with the glass and cups suggests that to me. I have that problem (especially carrying a dinner plate in one hand), although it did not affect my bowing (at least not badly) until my 80s. If that is the problem, one way to reduce it when bowing violin might be to hold the bow differently. As an experiment you could try holding the entire frog rather than the stick. If that works, you will have a temporary fix and can experiment further from there, perhaps sticking your thumb through a little more - or not being religious about keeping your pinky on the stick. For me, the tremor has a relationship to my shoulder and the fact that violin and viola bows are held high. I don't have as much problem with a viola bow, which is 1/6 heavier than a violin bow - but I still have a problem. I do not usually have the problem with cello playing - the shoulder is well above the bow, which is at waist height and held more solidly (not more tightly).. By the way, this is not a serious affliction. Two of my kids seem to have inherited it from me - one is a successful architect and the other an artisan wood turner ( But it is probably one reason I have lousy penmanship. My MD informed me that there are shoulder/arm exercises that an help with this problem. I have found going up and down your back from below with a back brush in the shower simulates one of them (in case, like me, you are averse to exercise for its own sake). And - as Dwight contributed (post above) little kids are first started with short strokes - in the Suzuki program they can spend months doing pre-Twinkle short bow strokes. EDIT on Dec. 21: If it worked for your shakes to hold the frog, you might try the UK product: Viotech Violin/Viola Bow Cushion - $9.95 for two cushions. Google it because there are a number of sellers in the US. Johnson String may have the lowest shipping charge.
  11. Menuhin method

    Menuhin was a small person and the way he did things would not apply to everyone (in fact, during the 2nd half of his life, they didn't apply all that well to him!). Some face-to-face lessons with a professional teacher are the best way to acquire useful left and right-hand "postures." A good teacher will also help assure your chinrest and if you need one, shoulder rest are good fits for you. Sometimes regular lessons do not fit with an learner's schedule or personal economy, but some such professional contact is virtually essential to develop proper skills on bowed-string instruments. The new book by Simon Fischer, "The Violin Lesson," is, in my opinion, certain to become the new violin "bible" for the next century. It is definitely worth having.
  12. Intonation of Double-Stops?

    Notes that sound in tune in melody may not sound in tune in harmony (i.e., in a chord). This is one of the challenges of ensemble playing at the highest level (for example, how to "tune" a string quartet). Some years ago I played in a string quartet that hired a coach for 4 sessions and he worked on us with this "tuning the quartet" issue - specifically in Mozart's "Dissonance Quartet" that was one of the things we were preparing to perform. In the purest sense, fixed-pitch instruments, such as pianos, are tuned to be (more or less) as in tune as possible in all keys, but not absolutely in tune in any key. But if you play music on your bowed string instrument with a piano, you will have to adjust your tuning of some notes to those of the piano to match closely enough.. Cellists and violists actually have to tune (i.e., detune) their lowest ( C ) strings to the pianos if that note will have to be played. If you are "lucky" you might not be able to tell the difference, but unfortunately for them, some people in the audience will. In other words, the OP's teacher was right. My most memorable experience involving double stops went on for a few years about 50 years ago. I was first violinist in a string quartet that played together once a week. We always played at the cellist's house (he was the oldest of us) and he had a large boxer (dog) who growled the first time I played a double stop. Charlie (the cellist - who played all 4 bowed instruments and had played double bass in the National Symphony when he was younger) then informed me that the boxer always growled when first violinists played double stops out of tune. I just quit trying to play double stops when we practiced together.
  13. J.S. Bach, a temperamental guy?

    I've always considered this just to be the "convention" for such things that depends on the basic key of the music. Also - when chords are involved, this convention can eliminate crowding of the written notes (it is easier to write a third than a second). Finally, intonation-wise it makes no difference for keyboard instruments. For string instruments exact intonation depends on the key, something that anyone who has tried to "tune" harmonies in a string quartet knows.
  14. Viola scale length vs. short pinky

    I certainly found Manfio's remarks about bridge location very interesting - especially since it is an opinion I have long held - that some makers have not always placed their f-hole notches appropriately for the acoustics of their instrument (or for the length of the neck). In my opinion 380 mm is a typical vibrating string length for a 15-1/2 to 16 inch (body length) viola. The required hand span is reduced somewhat the more the instrument neck is pointed to the left when playing it (but that is also a function of the upper (right) arm length for convenience of straight bowing). Cellists make up for the awkward finger spacing required in low positions by doing a lot of "hand dancing." That has to be done on viola for some awkward passages - depending on what is awkward for the player.
  15. Whats the best way to clean an old bow

    I think it may depend on the value of your bow. Frankly, I doubt that violin varnish cleaner would hurt a bow stick - but you should probably remove the frog first to keep the goop of the bow hair. If you have already tried using violin varnish cleaner unsuccessfully contact a luthier - if your bow is worth the effort. 15 years ago, when i was still earning money and had all my instruments serviced, my luthier cleaned "baked on rosin" off a violin that had accumulated it in the 4 years of its' life before I owned it (since it needed no other servicing at all). I had tried to remove that crap using regular violin cleaner, but it never worked. They charged me $75, but they got it clean - but since they had not asked me if they should do that I resented it for a few seconds. If you have a bow worth thousands of dollars start out by just trying to rub the old rosin off with a cotton or microfiber cloth. If that doesn't work and your bow has high value it would be worthwhile to contact a professional luthier. I have several 19th century bows and microfiber or cotton cloth has always worked. Now I always wipe my bow sticks clean whenever I notice rosin dust on them and I wipe off my instruments under the strings every time I return them to their cases.