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A. Brown

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I live in Ottawa, Canada where I work as a technical

writer and editor. Strictly an amateur violin player,

I started lessons in classical technique a year ago at

the age of 43; now enjoying it immensely! I have been

playing other instruments for several decades,

especially Irish/Newfoundland/Quebec traditional music

on the concertina, so I approached the violin already

quite comfortable with reading music and learning tunes

by ear. Being left-handed was a bit of a handicap at

first in learning the delicate nuances of bowing, but

using a computer mouse with my right hand for 14 years

was a big help! Anyway, after a year, I think it's

coming along well; I'm certainly enjoying the training

of my ear and body that violin demands.

The Fingerboard has been a true source of inspiration

and knowledge for me--thanks to all of you for being so

expressive and obsessive!

To all you other crazy middle-aged people who have

taken up the fiddle, don't get dejected thinking that

you'll be 50 (or 60 or whatever) before you can really

play. Face it--you're going to get old anyway; now

would you rather be a good fiddler when you get there,

or just someone who dreamed about playing this

noble instrument?



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: What a great idea! I am a co-founder/salesman for a startup software company in Los Angeles. I have been playing the fiddle for about 3 years, having started when I was 31. I have learned so many great things from the people on this board and look forward to many interesting exchanges in the future. Thank you to all the experts who lend your time to educate the rest of us so patiently.

: Tom

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Originally my plan was to save up my money to buy an airplane ticket to the Canadian arctic and spend the rest of my life with the Inuit hunting seals for food. One day I spent the money that I was saving for my ticket on wood and tools and I've been stuck down here in Texas building violins since then. I guess that it was a good thing. I don't know how to hunt seals and I don't like being cold.

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Everyone has been so forthcoming about themselves! Perhaps I should add that we have a greyhound (our kitty just died,) our son is 15 and daughter is 18. As an armchair hobby, I've done internet genealogy trying to find out, if I can, if there is musical ability passed along. I have one G-G-G aunt who played guitar with her fiddlin' husband in backwoods Kentucky; they won fiddling contests. There is a lot of playing by ear and habits of constant singing in my family. A G-G grandfather owned a music store after the Civil War. Several uncles were interested in jazz, having been born in west KY and in St. Louis in the 20's-30's, and one played semi-professionally when he wasn't being a Marine. He was killed in the first days of the Korean War, and my son inherited (through my father) his 1944 Martin D-28 that he won in a poker game. My son right now is playing electric bass but eventually will get around to the guitar. Lots of people in the present generations of my family, both sides, treat music as a participation activity.

Ann Brown


: Hello,

: I'm the mom of a violinist/violist who is this month auditioning at five conservatories, and of an ex-cellist who now plays clarinet. I spend a little time hanging around a violin shop watching and listening. I was a flute player (MM in performance) but don't play now, but I remain interested in music. Husband plays piano but is a scientist.

: Ann Brown

: Seattle WA USA

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I am a fiddler living just outside of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada. I've played for 24 years (since the age of 4) and presently teach privately and play for lots of dances. I also travel quite a bit in the summertime to teach at fiddle camps and do a lot of judging at fiddle competitions. I'm married with a 7 year old son who plays the fiddle.

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Hello everyone,

First, I'm proud of Ann who had the courage to ask such an involved and personal question. I had thought about asking the same question a while ago, and admit that I wasn't sure if it would be received well. Well, I can see that I was wrong. :) I'm relatively new to this board, and started visiting since October of '98. (and almost everyday since then!) I've always loved the sounds of stringed instruments(especially the viola and violin), and finally bought my first one in October. I used to play the piano which has helped me quite a bit. I'm from Ottawa, Ontario, just graduated from university, and currently work as a full-time R & D engineer at a high tech company. In my spare time, I like to swim, and read all I can about the violin.

Kenneth Chang

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: I have a small interest in instrument repair and maintenance. Just last month I cut myself a new bridge, cleaned and polished the violin, and planed the fingerboard, with excellent results (thanks to the booklet "You Fix Them" by Scherl and Roth, a reference that I got from this board). I also pulled the painful pins out of my pegs at the time (thanks to Al Stancel for the suggestion!). I don't think I'm going to try bow rehairs, though--it just seems too tedious. I do want to thank this board for the encouragement it gave me to cut my own bridge.


Where did you find the booklet "You Fix Them"? I did an archive search and couldn't find anything on it.


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: Where did you find the booklet "You Fix Them"? I did an archive search and couldn't find anything on it.

Hi Claire,

You will find the reference to the Scherl and Roth booklet in the maestronet message


The booklet itself I found at my public library (the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh). I believe that amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com have it available, but they wanted an outrageous amount for it (something like $50), so I didn't buy the booklet. Good luck!


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I'm a 17 year old violin student from, living in and studying in Iceland. I've been playing for 12 years now, originally a Suzuki student in the US (where I lived when I was 5-10). My teacher is Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, concertmaster of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra for the past 25 years. She studied with Dorothy DeLay and Caroll Glenn. I've long since decided to be a violinist (like, what other choice is there) and intend to study in the US. The Icelandic school system is slightly different from yours so I won't be there for another two and a half years.

Currently I'm working on Bach d minor (Chaconne), Ziegeunerweisen by Sarasate and the Tchaikovsky concerto. That is, when I have time to practice.... :)

This summer I'll be attending the Weathersfield Music Festival in Vermont to take lessons with Mr. and Mrs.Vamos, who teach at Oberlin and are good friends with my teacher. If you're going to be there or know of anyone who will, definitely come say hi!

Best wishes from Iceland,

Bestu óskir frá Íslandi,

Ari Þór Vilhjálmsson

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: Just a quick note to all readers out there - if you ever have a chance to see one of Eric's cellos - do so! When I held the 1998 Exhibition of American Violin and Bow Makers at Butterfield's last February, everyone was talking about Eric's cellos, making sure I saw them and asking me what I thought. Everyone, including myself, agreed that his cellos were particularly beautiful, especially one that was made (if my memory serves me correctly) in Wisconsin under Carl Becker Jr.'s supervision. Incredible work - really a gorgeous table! Anyway, I just thought I would make an unsolicited mention, as I thought of those cellos after reading Eric's post.

: : My name is Eric Benning and I was born into violinmaking. My Grandfather, Paul Toenniges, my father, Hans Benning, my mother, Nancy and my cousin, Carl Becker Jr. are all violinmakers. I am the youngest of three brothers and the only one with any desire for violinmaking. My oldest brother is a Sheriff and the middle brother is a professional violinist in L.A.

: : I began making new instruments with my father and grandfather at age 10. My wife plays on a violin I made at age 13. I studied with my father mainly, but also with Carl Becker Jr. in Pickerel, Wisconsin for a time, Bill Watson in Upper Bitthams for a brief time, and I studied wood carving under Steffan Pfeffer in Mittenwald.I currently work with my family at Studio City Music Inc. in Los Angeles. A business started by my Grandfather.

: : I'm a amateur cellist and an avid motorcross racer as well. I have a 7 month old son that I have flexible plans for him becoming a violinmaker and motorcross racer as well.

: : This was a fun topic. I enjoy hearing a little bit of personal information from you all.

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Hi! this is a great idea. I never knew that there were so many my age on this BB.

My real name I keep a secret, but most of you know me as Roman. (If you are REALLY curious you can e-mail me.) I am a 17 year old violinist from Saskatoon SK. Canada. attending Aden Bowman Collegiate for Gr. 11. I am also the piano accompanist for the Saskatoon Boys Choir.

As a violinist, I have played in many festivals, provincial, national and international competitions. I've taken part in international workshops and masterclasses. I study with Professor Robert Klose, Director of Strings at the U of Saskatchewan...have been for the past 7 years and will continue studying with him in Alberta when he joins the staff of the U of Alberta in Edmonton.

I am a guest performer/soloist and member of the New England Symphonic Ensemble which every month or so performs with choirs and symphonies in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1997 we attended the International String Workshops/Festival in Stavanger, Norway before completing a complete tour of Scandanavia, ending in Iceland where I missed saying "hi" to Ari (didn't have the pleasure of knowing him yet.) I am also the concert master of Harmony Chamber Orchestra here in Saskatoon.

I really enjoy performing. I am working on Tzigane by Raval, Caprise Venoise by Kreisler, and the Tchaikovsky violin concerto is all memorized and ready for a march competition.

It is my belief that competing to the extreme is very unhealthy, and as soon as I have gained enough recognition, the number of competitions I play in will drop. Performing is my true love. I play in my home church (of which my dad is the pastor: visit at www.tagnet.org/saskatooncentral/) and other churches around the world.

I play a 1900 Paul Bailly Maginni copy but am looking at a brand new fiddle by David Palm of Shellbrook.

My best piece of advice: Never give up! If they say you can't do it...prove 'em ALL wrong!

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I'm a fiddle player who took up the instrument as an adult. Most of my playing is old time, irish, and folk. As I've only been playing for two and half years I'm still pretty raw. Oh yeah writing computer software keeps me in fiddle gear.

It's an interesting mix of folks on this board.

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will this be your first trip to north america? vermont is a lovely state. my wife and i visit new england several times a year (new hampshire mainly), and i could see retiring to this part of the country where it is quieter and more relaxed. the winters are tough, but then again, they kind of stink where i am come to think of it.


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Hi everyone,

I'm not a pro yet. I'm a 17 year old violin student and amature violin maker. This weekend I am auditioning for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

I must say that I was surprised by the number of people who responded to this in such a short period of time.


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My name is Herbert Chang, I am from Beijing,China. I started to play the violin when I was 16, then the Cultural Revolution started and my violin teacher was sent down to do labor work in the countryside. I found another teacher who was a violin student younger than me, but he left Beijing because his family was sent down to the countryside. I fiddled on my own for a short period of time before I found myself in the countryside. Then life went on...I am almost 50 now, still enjoying playing the violin, although not playing too much better than 30 years ago.

I live in Virginia now and have just begun to take lessons from a wonderful teacher. I promise you she is not going to leave for the countryside! It's been a great pleasure to meet all of you on this BB.


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probably the first person to catch my interest here was andy victor. i'm sure he feels that we all know him so well at this point, that it doesn't make sense to post. he has given me countless useful hints, ideas, and things to consider. he along with others has given me information that could only come from years of first hand experience-i consider myself lucky to have "met" several of you both on and off the board.


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I am a violin teacher and performer.


I teach 21 students a week. They range in age from 5 to 18.

I have studied the violin since I was 10 and I was given my Greatgrandfather William Toy's violin.


I am a graduate of the Capital University Conservatory of Music and also have studied at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Ashland University.

I have also studied violin with Andrew Lisko and Cal Rogers.

I teach a small orchestra at a Christian School and I am on the board of the Mansfield Youth Orchestra.


I really love to play the violin and I still continue to work on new solos.

I have a violin website that I have enjoyed putting on- line.

Sheila's Corner



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: Hi again,

What Patti didn't tell you is that she is one of Canada's top fiddlers, having taken first place three times at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship here in Ottawa. She is a fantastic fiddler and teacher. I had her as a teacher at the "Bye the Canal Fiddle Camp" for a week last summer. And, with her beautiful bowing arm, she makes playing the fiddle look so easy. The brievity of her note reflects the modest person that she is. Hope to see you at the camp again this summer, Patti.

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I only discovered this board a month ago. I'm a forty-something professional violist and occasional violinist. I began with violin at age 9, which promptly earned me the label of Black Sheep in my family. When I switched to viola at 27, I realized what my true instrument was always meant to be. Currently I live in South Florida, where I'm a member of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and do other gigs as I get them. I play mostly on a 16.5" viola made in 1965 in Prague by A. Honek, a maker about whom I know absolutely nothing. I bought it through an eBay auction last spring and consider it one of the best finds of my life, though, as it's gotten nothing but favorable comments from my colleagues.

Not being the type to "talk shop" all that much, I usually steer away from topics concerning playing. My primary interest in frequenting this board is to learn about how instruments are made and repaired, an area in which I'm a definite amateur. I can do basic setups and bow rehairing, etc., as I had to learn these things when I once had a playing job overseas which was far away from any luthiers. At this point in my life I enjoy recycling old forgotten instruments that I find here and there, with the goal of giving them new lives with young aspiring musicians as a favorable alternative to Skylarks and "Cremonas". I'm not a teacher myself, but many of my friends are. So far, I've only posted here to ask questions about refinishing one of the old instruments I have. None of the pros replied, so if you are reading this and are a pro maker or repairperson, please scroll down to the "Refinishing advice" thread before it disappears (hint, hint!)

-- Susan

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