Andrew Victor

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About Andrew Victor

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  1. A friend (clarinetist and Berkeley professor) sent me this truly inspiring video from the Rotterdam Philharmonic that, for me, is an awesome transformation of fear into hope.
  2. All ensemble rehearsals and concerts are cancelled. I'm going back to my "roots." Played through my first cello concerto (Grutzmacher) on Sunday - first time in 70 years. Played through my first viola "concerto" (Mozart Sinfonia Concertante) Monday). Played to play through Mozart violin concerto # 5 today (I've got 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 on the stand). Plan to go the drive-through pharmacy at 8am on Wednesday and pick up prescriptions for the next 90 days - then back to another violin concerto. I'll decide tomorrow. I've got big stacks of these things. Will I ever get back to where I was 69 years ago? No but there is nothing to do for the foreseeable time but try my best.
  3. When my hearing started to fail (in my 50s), and my intonation became "troublesome" as a result**, I used a cheap drugstore ear plug in my left ear when I played. I fitted it loosely so that the sound in my left and right ears were equalized. I calculated that this amounted to about a 12 to 18 DB decrease in the sound getting to my left ear (depends on how you hold your head). This is a very inexpensive way to reduce the loudness of a violin. Alternatively, some musicians purchase "musician's earplugs" that reduce the sound pressure to their ears a specific amount while (supposedly) passing the tembre that is characteristic of the instrument and important to sensitive playing. By using the plug in only one ear I was still able to hear all the tonal qualities my violin produced. ** Overdriving an ear results in hearing the notes as sharp and can result in violinists compensating by playing flat (that is a known and published phenomenon). What happened to me was that I heard the louder tone (from my left ear) as sharp while hearing the softer tone (from my right ear) in tune at the same time and not being able to even tune the strings properly. Even today, when tuning my violin to an oboe (z.b.) I finalize the job by playing my A string in cello position so neither ear hears a louder sound and is overdriven.
  4. I seem to recall a time in my past when I tried to fix whistling E strings by rotating them 360 degrees at the ball end before sticking them in the fine tuner. Has anyone else found that to work?
  5. Shortly before he left the Emerson Quartet, cellist David Finckel completed a series of 100 brief digital "Cello Talks" ( ) recorded in his various hotel rooms while on tour with the Emerson. People who are considering creating on-line instruction videos might find his products instructive.
  6. Well, 2 week2 ago I responded to the OP the way every one else did. But a week ago, I opened my viola case for the first time in more than a month to practice for a chamber music session later in the week and decided to use my W. Seifert viola bow (for the first time in many moons) - and lo and behold the gap between the leather and frog is 9mm loosened and 12 mm tightened. This is the way this bow came to me new 24 years ago (when it sold for $180 - now it retails for $550). None of my other bows is "leathered" this way. I admit my thumb goes right to the wood but it feels very comfortable to me to play this way. I can fully understand why some others might want their bow to feel like this if their hand is anything like mine. For a bow of this modest value it would worth it to me even if it does wear the wood. But I can't possibly wear it out - my kid who will inherit it can have that pleasure - or sell it. But even if I were 60 years younger, I would not change it.
  7. The clearest impression I ever had of "real sound" was a very few years ago when I attended a Midori master class and was able to hear her "real sound" up close with no other sound interference even if only for the few seconds she actually played. Really amazing! The same exciting sound clarity came through to me when I heard the Cypress String Quartet from a center seat in the first row. But I do recall hearing similar sonic quality from recordings - from $20,000 and $50,000 speaker systems; once when when I was speaker shopping and once of a string quartet at a wealthy friend's home. Way beyond my price range.
  8. I have used alcohol to clean my strings since the 1960s. I actually did this about weekly in the early years, but much more rarely this century, perhaps less than once every few months. (I have been playing since 1939.) I hypothesized after using a cloth (cotton in those earlier days, microfiber for the past 20 years or so) and also a nylon scrubbie (followed by a cloth) in this century when the rosin crud was too tough for a cloth, that rosin between the metal windings of the string was not touchable by those methods and a solvent was needed to remove it. For the past 40 years I have applied the alcohol from (non-drip) pads sold in drug stores for injection prep (so there is no surplus solvent) and I immediately wipe each string off with a (absorbent) cotton cloth to remove the rosin and any dissolved rosin. I did this because I wanted to minimize any penetration of alcohol to the string cores (my idea from the beginning) - gut in the '60s, synthetic since. I have noticed only improvement in instrument sound from this practice and no problem with string endurance. (During performances I use my right thumbnail to scrape rosin from strings if my sound seems to be failing.)
  9. The frequency of my alcohol cleaning of strings is now greatly reduced. As I pointed out I immediately remove the alcohol from the string surface by wiping with a dry cotton cloth to prevent penetration to the core. The tonal changes I have achieved by using alcohol cleaning convinced me that there was a negative tonal effect of rosin between the metal string windings that is reduced by alcohol cleaning. I will admit that I no longer clean my strings with alcohol weekly. Now I only do that if a nylon scrubbie and microfiber cloth don't give me the effect I want. I probably alcohol clean no more than every 3 months (and that includes the 4 instruments I may play regularly - (violin (2), viola and cello). I also no longer use Liebenzeller rosins. Since that entry in this thread I have gone through Andrea, Magic, and settled mostly on Leatherwood rosins (both Supple and Crisp, sometimes mixing them) having bought their blends from the maker for violin, viola, and cello on a half-price deal when the company was fairly new. Expensive stuff - it never leaves home.
  10. This is my take on this question: When the bow is loosened sufficiently for storage, the leather should just touch the frog so that when the bow is tightened sufficiently the gap is minimized. Softer bows will probably create a greater gap when sufficiently tightened - so you don't want to over-hair them. You can purchase decent thumb leather pieces for $1(US) or so. Professional installation probably costs no more than $30 - I do it myself. So if the leather gets messed up by pressure from the frog it's no great loss. Some people like to play with their thumb on the leather and some with the thumb in the "notch" of the frog. The latter will eventually cost you in the long run (or the inheritor of your valuable bow). One of my bows is an F.N. Voirin and obviously previous players used it with thumb in notch - and so did I - probably for an additional 20 - 30 years - until the underlying metal was exposed (I have done a jerry-rigged repair patch). The potential value of that bow has probably all been played and worn out of it, but even so I don't do that any more!!! It is also best if your bow has been haired and the "gap" set in the climate in which it will be played. (Although for the future, who knows what that will be!)
  11. Fitting bridges, including the necessary trimming to optimize mass, is something that luthiers learn to do and perfect with a great deal of experience. Luthiers may well fit as many bridges in a week as some violin makers fit in a year.
  12. Some one, good point - some rosins do seem to require some scoring to get good application to the bow hair started.
  13. Peter K-G, If your time is limited you might find helpful. There you should encounter a very experienced professional violinist as teacher and have freedom to work at your own pace and have enough time between lessons (i.e., teacher interactions) to work on the stuff. My adult son has used for on-line (delayed-response) video lessons.
  14. A reasonable list of shops some of which might meet your requirement: Area violin shops&npsic=0&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=37874149,-122410814,14657&tbm=lcl&rldimm=4916917212678676751&lqi=ChVCYXkgQXJlYSB2aW9saW4gc2hvcHNaJQoMdmlvbGluIHNob3BzIhViYXkgYXJlYSB2aW9saW4gc2hvcHM&phdesc=2poVRLBmvwA&ved=2ahUKEwj0oPOEyL_mAhXQHjQIHRJlCR4QvS4wAXoECAsQKw&rldoc=1&tbs=lrf:!1m4!1u3!2m2!3m1!1e1!1m4!1u2!2m2!2m1!1e1!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:10&rlst=f#rlfi=hd:;si:17873989545835575298,l,CitCYXkgQXJlYSB2aW9saW4gc2hvcHMgQmF5IEFyZWEgdmlvbGluIHNob3BzGVbgnjKh3N7FWlEKInZpb2xpbiBzaG9wcyBiYXkgYXJlYSB2aW9saW4gc2hvcHMiK2JheSBhcmVhIHZpb2xpbiBzaG9wcyBiYXkgYXJlYSB2aW9saW4gc2hvcHM,y,pm1j4I0t6fo;mv:[[38.509723699999995,-121.82162409999998],[37.220852400000005,-122.8836653]] I have visited about 4 of them plus Joan Balter in Berkeley.
  15. Three13, Two thoughts on teachers in Marin County: The Magic Flute, music store at Northgate One, maintains an on-line list of teachers who have registered with them (at least they did when I was teaching until 10 years ago). Julie Mellon, who runs the Suzuki violin program at Dominican U. in San Rafael should be competent to do the job (she is now the concertmaster of the conductor-less chamber orchestra I now play with - Lucas Valley Chamber Orchestra). You can find her on line as well. I hope this is a helpful start.