Andrew Victor

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Everything posted by Andrew Victor

  1. I started using an AcoustaGrip shoulder rest a few years ago for violin playing. It sticks to the back of the violin by micro-suction ans is easily placed and removed, no clips or rubber bands. Its foam conforms to one's shoulder (etc.) shape. I find more and more players in my orchestra using this. On viola (thicker instrument) I sometimes use a GelRest Micro (or nothing at all).
  2. I have found it is possible to change a viola's sound quite a lot by choosing just the right string combination. My two violas are totally different in sound and optimal string combinations - and bow choice. Also I wonder why people equate arm length (and hand size) for playing string instruments with height. My tallest height was 6 feet and I have long arms (my elbows reach my waist when I was that height - now in my 85th year the reach my hips), my violin playing granddaughter finally made it to about 5'4" but when were doing her lessons we had a "game" where we would compare the lengths of our left arms, by sticking our finger tips into the other's armpits. By the time she reached that height we could touch each other's armpits. I know violinist almost 6-1/2 feet tall with smaller hands and shorter arm.
  3. My violas are both 16". If you arms are long enough to play that size it fits very well with your violin experience because the arm extension AND the finger separations for 3rd position are the same as 1st position on violin and the other positions follow those proportions. I have not played other violas than mine - except over a decade ago I did play a Jay Haide at Ifshin Violins and thought it was a very good viola. One of our local "ringers" has actually chosen a Jay-Haide violin and viola as his performance instruments.
  4. Joachim and Kaufman are both flat chinrest models. I think the Joachim is a bit shorter (lower) if that is also what you want. Concord Music sells both models, perhaps other dealers do too. If you want a little rise (like the "original STUBER" model made in Germany up to about 50 years ago)* you can add a "The IMPRESSIONIST" to the top of the flat chinrest and fashion it to exactly what you want - and if at first you don't succeed you can just reheat it and try again. And if the IMPRESSIONIST** has too much material for your use, you can cut off just enough and use that. And if you change your mind you can just remove the Impressionist and no harm done. Been there, done that - except my IMPRESSIONIST halves are still on 2 violin and 2 viola chinrests, but I did remove them and reshape them more than once to get the perfect fit for me.. * Because one can no longer buy those chinrests except tailor-made from UK for about $160, which I did once years ago (when they were $100) and almost did again earlier this year.. **The IMPRESSIONIST is pretty amazing stuff if you are having trouble getting exactly the chinrest fit to your "chin" that you want.
  5. Is it not possible to fit a new screw into the old cap and thus get a perfect match of screw and eyelet? Would this decrease the value of the bow any more than replacing just the eyelet?
  6. Overtones are critical to use of vibrato to achieve decent projection from most violins, since vibrato adds higher-power neighboring overtones to the sound produced when playing certain notes. The pitches of the overtone peaks vary instrument-to-instrument but a competent player will quickly find how to perform vibrato on a "new" (i.e., unfamiliar) instrument if it is decent enough. See brief "vibrato" discussion near end of the following link. It was an article by Joseph Curtin in The STRAD magazine 10 - 15 years ago that solidified this thought for me but it was my own experience 55 years ago when I had to play some solo parts in our community orchestra concert that first raised the issue. My own cello had broken and I had to play the concert on a borrowed KAY cello; the effort required to produce sufficient vibrato to engage enough overtones for projection in the venue was unbelievable - in fact at one point my left hand flew off the neck! Somewhat embarrassing - but I recovered - and bought a replacement cello the next time I got out of town.
  7. In my opinion, Victor Sazer's book "New Direrections in Cello Playing" (not so new any more) provides excellent guidance for returning cello players who might have forgotten this and that and would rather not engage a teacher again. The cellists I make music with these days range in height from less than 5 feet to at least 6' 2" and all manage to do a great job with 4/4 cellos. PhilipKT has written nothing above I could possibly disagree with.
  8. Ifshin Violins did a New York neck reset for me 14 years ago after I bought a new cello from them. First they lowered the bridge* for me before I first took it home. The next week they lowered it a bit more. The following week, when I requested further lowering they refused and did the neck reset while I wandered around Berkeley for a few hours and had lunch before taking it home again. It has worked out fine for me even though it still has higher "action" than either of my other cellos. * I was used to a lower bridge.
  9. Really?? Someone would spend 10 minutes listening to a community orchestra audition? Really??? Just be sure that whatever you play is performance ready.
  10. I'm jealous. It's something I would love to do - but a "week trip" instead of a "day trip." I would start by narrowing down the number of potential makers by using this URL that Laurie published:
  11. As of this past November - been playing for 80 years - the first 30 without a shoulder rest (although I did own one - a "Menuhin", I think. The next 40 years with soulder rests - mostly Wolf Secundo. More important is finding a shoulder rest that is comfortable for playing an 8 hour day - even if you don't play that much. Important to set things up so you can hold the instrument on your collarbone. Most recently I've been using an AcoustaGrip foam (with micro suction) for violin playing (~ 3 years) and a GelRest Micro when playing viola (about 2 months). I use a thinner chinrest on viola but use the same "topography" for my jaw on both - in order to get that on viola I use a very low chinrest and build up the top with an "Impressionist" to match the top of my violin chinrests and just enought that both instruments fit between my jaw and collar bone exactly the same way. The lowest chinrest I have found is a "Joachim" and any dealer can replace the violin "barrels" with slightly longer viola ones.
  12. Really fantastic. Every Bach solo work is a Universe of potential expression and color. I do recall seeing Lara St. John performing the Chaconne from Bach's 2nd Partita at our local Border's bookstore in 1996 (hawking her new CD) and she rolled the chords. It was a delightful experience for my 7 year old granddaughter who had been taking violin lessons from me for 6 months by then. and was delighted meeting Ms. St. John, exchanging a few words and getting her Bach CD signed.
  13. I remember the last time I went to buy a replacement cello tailgut (mine had broken) and the store no longer sold them. That's when I "discovered" the Sacconi nylon! I think it was almost 70 years ago. The Sacconi tailcord was invented by Frank Passa, who gained his lutherie skills in the shop of Sacconi in NYC before moving to San Francisco where he set up the shop he owned for 51 years. I visited Passa at his home in Santa Rosa, CA in 2000, about a year before his death. He and his family were still producing Sacconi tailcord there. His product was far superior to competing, cheaper products ("off-brand") of the same design, which I found consistently would stretch and continue to stretch after installation. He also had stacks of pernambuco bow blanks stored in the large garage under his house, and instruments and safes that had come from his San Francisco shop that had closed the previous year.
  14. I've had 4 of these (left-mounted) - on 4 violins for a decade and a fellow violinist then put a quarneri model Resonation Chinrest (RC) on his Enrico Rocco violin with good result. My only disappointment was that I had to go to a different model chinrest from my favored 50 year old Original Stubers. Another thing, mmmm's photo is misleading. The rubber is not that thick - what you see in the photo are the parts of the rybber that shield the violin edges from the metal posts. The actual rubber linings that rest on the instrument are quite thin. Much more recently I attempted to order two of the lowest-height RC model to use on my violas and found the website "down for maintenance." So I tried something else - I removed the cork lining from the chinrests I was using and replaced it with 2mm thick rubber sheeting cut to fit. It works at least as well as the RCs lin improving tone. So I took the little bit of rubber I had left and relined two of my old Stuber violin chinrests - and "voila!" fantastic sound and that same old jaw comfort I had enjoyed for earlier decades. Unfortunately I donated my two other Stubers to a local youth orchestra a few years ago (I've ordered two replacements - I hope they have the same contours).
  15. I've never used titanium, but of the gut, nylon, steel wire and Kevlar I've used, I prefer Kevlar- better sound (violin, viola AND cello).
  16. Back to 40-0's query: Re-examining your question, I perceive that you are actually reading music in terms of note names. I think you must do things differently than I do. I have always related place on the staff to place on the instrument rather than to the "name of the note." So I've had no problem switching to a new clef on a new instrument. I got through a number of serious concertos on my 2nd instrument (cello) before realizing that I was playing bass and tenor clefs without ever thinking of note names - in fact if asked to name a note in bass or tenor clef at sight I would actually have to relate it to either an open string location on the staff or the "F-spot" or " middle C-spot" of the clef. But in treble clef I always knew the note names because I'd played violin since age 4. It was not until my 60s (20 years ago) when I was teaching cello to a piano teacher that I decided to try to play piano and had to learn note names in bass clef. Now, for the past 4 years I've taken up viola on a more serious level than earlier and I face the same problem with alto clef. Perhaps it is similar to the mental maps we use when driving. Once you know where you are going, you just follow the map in your head. Once you have related the locations of the "dots" on the (treble) staff to location on the instrument you ought to be able to drive it anywhere the "dots" go from the map on the sheet music. I like Etorgerson's statements about not wanting to "fix it." It does take an act of will to begin that step. I was that way with viola for 40 years - just for normal playing. Now I'm facing the same problem about reading the viola (alto) clef on cello - it would definitely be a useful translation skill.
  17. Watch your left hand in a mirror while you play to see what you are doing. If your instrument strings are in tune with each other you are not reaching across perpendicularly to the strings - even though ti feels like you are. You will need to get used to what it feels like to get the proper finger spacing across different strings. You could practice double stops by playing the notes separately and then together - i.e., scales in all sorts of intervals - although if you are new to the instrument you are probably limited to first position and this limits the intervals you can test - but still, you can do some.
  18. What instrument are you now playing in treble clef? In high school band I played baritone horn in treble clef. I also played violin in treble clef --and cello in bass, tenor, treble and "trouble clef" (that is treble clef played an octave down). Now I also play viola in alto and treble clefs. Sometimes my mind glitches when sight-reading music on one of the chin instruments and I will shift an alto or treble clef note a space (or line) up or down one when the music is fast and my mind switches to the other instrument. I rarely do that on cello because the physicality is so different than the other two instruments'. All you can do is remain alert to what mistakes you make and let time heal the wounds.
  19. One of my cellos, that I have owned for 70 years is stamped internally "L. LOWENDALL, 1877, Dresden" The back of the pegbox is stamped "Lowendall's Grand Concert Cello / Stradivarius" Below that is a paper repair label "Luther Heiges, Baltimore 1912." I also recall another Baltimore repair receipt that came in the bag with the cello dated 1929. A decent Albert Nürnberger bow came to me with the cello - I still have that too. The cello is typical of all Strad copies I have owned or tested - down to its annoying F# wolf (now finally eliminated with a Krentz). It had some broken wood and holes in the ribs (but no damage to front or back) when I received it in 1949 and studied on it but it only got worse over time until its move to California in 1962 caused catastrophic damage when the neck block disintegrated. I finally had it repaired around 1990 and it has been stable and decent since then - nice chamber music cello. I notice that auction prices on Lowendall cellos have cycled up to about $5,000 for at least the past 30 years. Check out for a list of all Lowendall auction prices over the decades.
  20. First thing you need is someone to teach you how to "touch" a violin, someone they call "a teacher." Personally, I think the Suzuki books contain a progression of music pieces that are good to build on, but you have to learn the mechanics (physical aspects) of playing this instrument or you can develop bad habits that will inhibit progress and will probably injure you. Suzuki should also be supplemented with supportive "exercises" or etudes. There are plenty of on-line (even youtube) sources where you can observe people holding violins and you can sign up for on-line visual courses like Artistworks, but it really pays to have a live teacher who can observe the muscles under your skin well enough to help you make necessary changes in the physical aspects of your playing from which you can continue to progress. You can reach a point from which you can continue to progress on your own, but I would not recommend trying that from the very beginning.
  21. With professional teachers I studied violin from age 4, cello from age 14 and took up viola (a little bit) on my own at 40 and got more involved in viola at 80. Until my late 60s I could pick up any one of these instruments and get to where I had been in a hour or so and in many ways I improved until I was 72. Since then my skills are diminishing, as is almost every other physical attribute. Back to the question of this thread. To me the problem of practicing multiple instruments is two-fold: 1. The size aspects -arm position, finger spacing and bow speed and "pressure." 2. Reading the music - different clefs and the same clefs on different instruments. To take care of the size aspects I always start a multiple-instrument practice session with the larger instrument. Cello, then viola, then violin. I've done it that way for years. I don't think I have a problem with the size differences. The bow weights and sizes and the way I hold them pretty much takes care of potential bow "pressure: issues. When I first started to play cello (before my first lesson) I tended to hold my bow and position my left hand like a violinist. At my first cello lesson my teacher took care of that with a couple of swift strikes to my hands with his bow. Reading notes on the different instruments is a whole other problem - one that can strike at any time. My mind can switch instruments in the middle of an unfamiliar musical phrase. Reading different clefs is a whole other matter as far as I'm concerned and one that can raise its ugly head any time I pick up any of the instruments Violin is entirely treble clef - no problem there. Viola is mostly alto clef with some treble clef - lots of treble clef for some music. For a violinist the problem is not switching clefs so much as confusing the position of notes on the staff with position on the instrument ( "oh yeah - this isn't a violin" - especially when an unfamiliar string of fast unfamiliar notes appears). If I have played the music before these sight-reading issues tend to evaporate. Because of the different physical position of cello playing compared to violin and viola I have never had a problem confusing reading cello music. Cello starts out low with bass clef, moves to tenor clef (one fifth above - that's just one string higher) and then on to treble clef. AAs a violinist first, I just think violin fingerings when I'm playing treble clef on cello. But cello treble clef from an earlier era has one more curve ball to throw at us - it is the "Trouble Clef" or "Dvorak Treble Clef," which is played one octave below where it is in the treble staff. To make matters worse it is actually an archaic substitute for the tenor clef with the notes just one whole tone lower than they would appear in the tenor clef - and I find that hard to sight read. But when I first encountered it 20 years after my cello lessons, I realized that that was what I had done before my first cello lesson when I played music from my violin books on the cello - but by then it seemed too late to make room for it in my head - and it still seems like that - and I'm not alone with that problem.
  22. Sorry, Curious1! I did not notice the last frame. From the top, the others looked to me like a typical cello-bow hold - at least like mine; from that perspective I could not see the pronation. Apparently it is also a matter of our relative finger lengths. Although, there are some pro cellists I have seen who pronate that way too - but that i not what I had in mind..
  23. This is what I posted a short time ago at a discussion about squeezing the thumb: "Science- or engineering-wise the bow is a simple beam. When being used it is supported vertically at two points by the strings and the the thumb. With a mass of only about 60 grams (slightly more than 2 ounces) a violin bow is too light to put enough force on the strings when playing to the left of the bow's CG and sometimes a bit too heavy when playing to the right of the CG (closer to the frog). To compensate ONE finger must apply pressure downward on the bow (to the left of the thumb when playing nearer the tip and to the right when playing nearer the frog). Maybe more than one finger just to keep things stable! Any more finger pressure and you are just squeezing the bow and all that squeeze is just wasted energy. Just try to find the way to balance the bow around the fulcrum of your thumb to get the right sound from the bow hair contact with the strings. For off-string strokes things get more complicated except with "perfect bows" that have the right elasticity to read your intention and do the right thing. But those bows are pretty scarce - even more so for bows that also have perfect resonance for best sound." The force applied by the fingers on top of the bow comes from the weight of the arm, not by squeezing. The bow hold shown above by Curious1 is a fairly typical cello-bow hold. But it will work for playing the violin with a violin bow in many circumstances - but not all.