April 11th, 2017

Regional Music Sterling Scholar: Hannah Grace Klassen

I am very delighted to announce that Hannah Grace Klassen has been chosen as the Regional Music Sterling Scholar.

She performed Jardins Sous La Pluie by Debussy, and her portfolio included a remarkable array of achievements in piano, violin, voice, and theater/drama.

This award represents an enormous amount of dedication and devotion and is a well-deserved honor.

As Regional Music Sterling Scholar, Hannah will automatically receive scholarship offers to universities throughout Utah, including BYU, the University of Utah, and USU.

Congratulations Hannah! I’m very proud of you and so happy for you!

December 23rd, 2016

2017 Sterling Scholars

 

Congratulations to Hannah Klassen and Whisper Sariah Saltzman! 

Hannah was awarded the 2017 Sterling Scholar in Music for Cedar High School.

Whisper was chosen as the Music 2017 Sterling Scholar for Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts.

Kudos to both of you for the hard work and dedication you have devoted to developing your talents and earning this distinguished title!

November 15th, 2016

The Five Strings

The Five Strings are a performing family band made up of five students of mine from Dallas, Texas — Talisa, Tavia, Trevin, Tiana, and Tiarra, ranging in age from 7 to 17.  They are accomplished and talented violinists, and have worked hard developing their abilities in violin, mandolin, guitar, ukelele, piano, singing and dancing. They are currently working on their 4th CD, perform regularly throughout the states and have a YouTube channel chock full of high quality videos and collaborations with other artists.

They just released their first original:

 

 

And a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” with Alex Boye:

 

And their newly released Christmas Video:

 

Visit their YouTube channel or Facebook page to support them and to see more of their inspiring videos!

 

June 22nd, 2016

Violin Recital at St. Jude’s in Cedar City

marinMarin Colby will be giving a violin a recital next thursday, June 30, 2016, 7pm at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (70 N 200 W St. Cedar City, UT 84720). She will be joined by her cousin, Mary Furse, on the violin, and accompanied by Tracy Bradshaw on the piano.

The program will include the entire Suite #1 (originally for cello) by J.S. Bach (performed by Marin), the second movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (performed by Mary), followed by the first movement of Sonata #2 by Schumann (also by Marin). The program will end with a beautiful duet rendition of Mi Mancheri (adapted from the Josh Groban recording).

All are invited and admission is free!

June 12th, 2016

Miss Washington County 2016

SavSavannah Langston was awarded Miss Washington County 2016!

For her talent, she played ‘Toccata” – a David Garrett violin arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor originally written for organ.

This is a prestigious award that requires much preparation (and many hours of practice!!) and will pay dividends for Savannah in the form of scholarships and experience, strengthening her resume, and opening doors in the future.

Way to go, Savannah!

April 5th, 2016

Youth Concerto Classics Soloists 2016

Southwest Symphony

Congratulations to Abby Clark, Aly Candland and Audrey Godfrey… chosen to solo with the Southwest Symphony on April 8th, 2016! Abby will be performing the haunting first movement from Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto #2 in G minor, and Aly and Audrey will be playing the virtuosic and playful “Navarra” written by Pablo Sarasate.

The Youth Concerto Classic Concert is at 7:30pm in the Cox Auditorium on the Dixie University Campus. You can order tickets or get more information here: http://www.southwestsymphony.co/concert-dates.html

January 1st, 2016

2016 Sterling Scholars

ss

Congratulations to Abby Clark and McKenzie Sampson! Abby was awarded the 2016 Sterling Scholar in Music for Desert Hills High School. m-ss (2)McKenzie was chosen as the overall 2016 Sterling Scholar for Desert Hill High School, where she entered in five categories, one of which was (of course!) music. Congratulations to both of you for earning this distinguished title and best of luck at regionals this coming April!

November 30th, 2015

Open Registration for Festivals 2016

It’s time to sign up for festivals!

The Southern Utah String Festival is on March 5, 2016 and registration is due December 19, 2015. Please go to their website and complete the forms to register – payment is made online through their site after the form is filled out using Eventbrite. Let me know if you need any help or information when registering.

SUPAF (Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival) registration is now open and are due on December 18, 2015. You can visit their website to sign up. Beginning and Intermediate Strings are on February 18, 2016; Advanced Strings are on February 23, 2016

October 3rd, 2015

The Inspiring Solo Recital

Giving a solo recital takes an enormous amount of dedication, preparation, focus, and courage! When taken seriously and given its proper attention to detail, it can be a fantastic vehicle for learning, growth, and sharing. Two of my students will be giving recitals this week, and I encourage you to attend and offer your support and love. You may be inspired to consider preparing one yourself! However, attending the first recital may be a bit unrealistic…

Eliah (2)Eliah Lafleur will be giving his first solo recital tomorrow, October 4th, 2015, in Kazakhstan (Central Asia). He has put in many hours of practice (with the kind and generous assistance of his talented mother) to become wonderfully prepared and is looking forward to sharing his work with his friends and family! If you are able to drop in to watch, do say “hello” from me!

Meanwhile, here in Utah, Ruth Ferguson has also been working tirelessly (along with her mother Hilary (vocals), and her sister Emma on the recitalharp) to prepare a beautiful recital to share at the St. George Tabernacle (18 S. Main Street) on October 10th at noon. All are invited, it is free to attend, and it is much closer to many of you than Kazakhstan!

We wish you both good luck and a fun recital experience!

June 16th, 2015

Empyrean Quartet in Zion

My quartet (The Empyrean String Quartet) will be performing at the Canyon Community Center in Springdale next friday, June 26, 2015, at 7:00 pm as part of the Z-Arts Concert Series held at the edge of Zion National Park.

The program will consist of Mozart Quartet #3, Shostakovich Quartet #8, and Brahms Quartet #3. Tickets are $10 for Z-Arts members and $15 for non-members, and can be purchased by calling 435.772.3434 ext. 313 or by emailing zarts@springdaletown.com.

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May 4th, 2015

Master Class with Jenny Oaks Baker

JennyGrammy nominated violinist Jenny Oaks Baker will be in St. George this friday, May 8th, to perform with the Southwest Symphony in Concert “Etchings in Tone.” The performance begins at 7:30pm in the Cox Performing Arts Center (325 South 700 East). Click here for more information or to buy tickets.

She will be giving a free master class that afternoon (May 8th) at 3:30 at the same location (Abby Clark & Sariah Saltzman will be performing soloists in the class). Come and learn!

April 9th, 2015

Regional Music Sterling Scholar: Abby Wuehler

regional music sterling scholar abby wuehlerI am delighted to announce that Abby Wuehler has been chosen as the Regional Music Sterling Scholar.

She performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, 1st Mvt.

This award represents an enormous amount of dedication and devotion and is a well-deserved honor.

As Regional Music Sterling Scholar, Abby will automatically receive scholarship offers to universities throughout Utah, including BYU, the University of Utah, and Utah State University.

Congratulations Abby! I’m very proud of you and so pleased for you!

April 9th, 2015

Regional Music Sterling Scholar: Runner-up

regional music sterling scholar runner up kaelie gillespieI am also delighted to announce that Kaelie Gillespie has been chosen as the Regional Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up.

She performed Carmen Fantasy, 1st Mvt., by Sarasate.

As with Abby, this distinction was earned by a laudable amount of hard work and discipline over many months and years.

As runner-up, Kaelie will automatically receive scholarship offers to universities throughout Utah, including BYU, the University of Utah, and Utah State University.

Congratulations Kaelie! I am so proud of you, and am thrilled for your success!

April 5th, 2015

A Community of Love

furtwangler community of loveMy favorite conductor is Wilhelm Furtwängler, whom I consider to be the greatest conductor of Beethoven who has ever lived.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, the great German baritone, who died in 2012, related to an interviewer a conversation he’d once had with Furtwängler, whom he himself admired deeply.

“He (Furtwängler) once said to me that the most important thing for a performing artist was to build up a community of love for the music with the audience, so as to create one fellow feeling among so many people who have come from so many different places and feelings. I have lived with that ideal all my life as a performer.”

This ideal, so beautiful in purpose and expression, was one of the reasons Furtwängler conducted so purely and beautifully and is something I would ask each of you to consider when you perform. It is an ideal to grow into over your the course of your life as a musician.

In fact, it is my aspiration to create this same community of love in my studio with my students and their parents. Real meaning and beauty is found in the love we share together, as teacher and student/parent, not just performer and audience.

Restating Furtwängler words more personally:

“The most important thing for a (violin teacher) is to build up a community of love for the music with (my students and their parents), so as to create one fellow feeling among so many people who have come from so many different places and feelings. I have lived with that ideal all my life as a (teacher).”

It is this community of love, this one fellow feeling, that is the most important aspect of everything we do together. It is the real music we make—the music behind the music. Without it, our notes—no matter how perfectly performed—are empty and without true meaning. It is only within a shared experience of fellowship and love that we are able to hear, feel, experience, and share the music that joins us all within the melody of its sweet embrace.

April 3rd, 2015

Utah Performing Arts Festivals: Award Recipients

susf gold cup winnersI’d like to congratulate all of my students who participated in SUPAF and SUSF this year. Your preparation and musicality was exemplary, and you all demonstrated significant growth as violinists and musicians!

For SUPAF, the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival, adjudicators select the top performers from each session to receive a small scholarship to encourage further participation in the arts. Here are the 2015 SUPAF Award Recipients from our studio:

Abby Clark (Solo)
Alex Heizer (Solo)
Audrey Godfrey & Aly Candland (Duet)
Elly Winder (Solo)
Fiona Fackrell (Solo)
Genesis Gonzales (Solo)
Genesis & Matthew Gonzales (Duet)
Ian Fackrell (Solo)
Jill Gibson (Solo)
McKenzie Sampson (Solo)
Rylee Dalton (Solo)

For SUSF, the Southern Utah Strings Festival, a student who earns a “Superior” rating in three separate years is awarded a Gold Cup and asked to play in the Gold Cup Recital. Here are the 2015 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients from our studio:

Abby Clark (Solo)
Aly Candland (Duet, with Audrey Godfrey)
Audrey Godfrey (Solo)
Fiona Fackrell (Solo)
Sailor & West Mylroie (Duet)
Sandy Pulsipher (Duet, with Elly Winder)
Sariah Saltzman (Solo, Duet & Quartet—duet with McKenzie Sampson)

These awards represent hours and years of hard work; I admire your dedication and practice, and your love for the violin!

Reminder: Please come to support Rylee Dalton and Sariah Saltzman as they solo with the Southwest Symphony tonight in the Youth Concerto Classic Concert held at 7:30pm in the Cox Auditorium.

February 15th, 2015

Spirit of Hope Gala

spirit of hope gala

My quartet, The Empyrean String Quartet, will be performing at the Spirit of Hope Gala at the Dixie Convention Center Garden Room on the evening of March 28th in support of the Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic in Saint George, Utah.

The gala will feature performances by Emmy-award-winning composer, Kurt Bestor, and gifted vocalist and actor, Southern Utah’s Brodie Perry, and will include a chef-designed dinner by Heritage Catering.

Tickets are $125 and can be purchased online or by contacting Melissa at (435) 632-8645.

All proceeds benefit the Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic of Saint George, Utah.

The Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic, founded in 1999, is “a non-profit, non-government healthcare organization that provides access to affordable healthcare services for the uninsured, underinsured and low-income in Southern Utah by acting as a safety net of services that include primary medical care, mental health services, and dental care” and operates solely on donations and grants. Their motto is: Healthcare With Heart.

You can support the Doctors’ Volunteer Clinic through volunteering or by making a donation through their website.

February 12th, 2015

Kayenta Arts Foundation: String Soirée

kayenta-arts-foundationMy quartet, The Empyrean String Quartet, featuring violist Linda Ghidossi-DeLuca, violinist Urs Rutishauser, and cellist Jessika Soli, will be performing the works of Beethoven and Mozart at two concerts in beautiful Kayenta, on February 26th and 27th at 7:30pm to benefit the Kayenta Arts Foundation.

While both concerts are already sold out, you can support the Kayenta Arts Foundation, and the building of a Kayenta Center for the Arts, by visiting their website.

Their vision is “to build the premier venue in the greater southern Utah area for awareness, appreciation, education, and enjoyment of diverse artistic endeavors.”

The Kayenta Arts Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization.

February 9th, 2015

Online Violin Lessons: Questions & Answers

online-violin-lessons-questions-answersSkype has its advantages and disadvantages when compared to in person lessons. My goal, where possible, is to abolish the disadvantages completely; and where it is not possible, to continually find ways to lessen or mitigate the disadvantages to such a degree that the overall balance swings in favor of Skype lessons in terms of the student’s experience, progress and preference.

Here are some common questions and concerns about the disadvantages and some of my strategies to mitigate them.

I begin with technical questions and then address the five biggest concerns about online lessons.

What does it cost to set up Skype?

Skype is 100% free, and so are calls between Skype users. Please install or update to the lastest version for best video results.

Webcams and mics: Most newer computers/laptops/phones will already have a built-in camera and microphone that will work fine; otherwise, you can purchase an acceptable webcam for as little as $20 (or you can spend more for higher quality webcams).

For internet, you will want a high-quality broadband connection: minimum 1.5 Mbps or faster.

If concerned, here are the system requirements for Skype.

Is there lag with Skype?

If my student’s internet connection is strong almost never. (With 90% of my students I never experience lag.) If their connection is not strong there will be lag 1-3 times per lesson lasting 3-4 seconds. On the rare occasion that the connection drops, it’s okay — stay calm and simply call me back. (Have your phone handy just in case there is a lasting connectivity issue.)

Things you can do to foster a strong connection:

Instead of using wi-fi/wireless, access the internet directly (i.e. “hardwire”) by plugging an ethernet cable into your computer and the router.

If you are using wi-fi, try to be close to the modem. Also, ask others not to stream movies etc. during your lesson, restart your computer before each lesson, don’t have any extraneous programs open or software running, e.g., don’t have an anti-virus scan scheduled during a lesson. These suggestions will allow your computer resources and internet capability to be available for Skype.

How much experience do you have teaching violin via Skype?

I have been teaching violin via Skype since 2010, upwards of three thousand lessons in total. I myself have taken lessons via Skype from four different teachers, and presently study with a violin teacher who resides in New York, while my daughter takes cello lessons via Skype as well (many of which I have sat in on). For the past five years I have researched, developed, and fine-tuned my approach to overcome the inherent limitations of online teaching, and am now at the point where the progress of my online students equals that of my in-person students.

What are the limitations, or perceived limitations, of Skype and how have you overcome them? What is fact and what is myth?

1. Lack of personal connection between teacher and student: Part fact, part myth.

While everyone would prefer to be in the physical presence of a friend or teacher, I find I still have a deep connection and many heart-warming moments with my students while on camera. Sharing, love, kindness, kinship, happiness, and inspiration—the most important things in life—are conveyed and experienced through the heart.

It has always been my goal, whether in person or on camera, to be totally present to my students during a lesson, and I am keenly aware of its importance in online lessons. And even though I am on camera, I am still a human, and a lot of personal warmth can be conveyed and experienced between us.

2. I will lose the benefit of hearing you play in person, as well as playing along with you: Part fact, part myth.

 

While there are definitely shades and subtleties that are easier to hear in person, you become attuned to hearing over Skype and within the realm of that sound you can still hear dramatic differences in dynamics, feeling, and tone quality. As a Skype student myself I can easily hear when my teacher demonstrates dramatic opposites—more or less richness, more or less emotion, more or less depth—and can be taught and inspired by these fluctuations.

It is similar to listening to a recorded performance of Beethoven by, for example, The Budapest String Quartet. While it is not the same as a live concert, these recordings are still deeply moving and inspiring, and contain an unmistakable depth of musicality, sensitivity, and soulfulness—more than most artists ever achieve in a live performance.

And while I cannot play along with a student due to slight transmission delay which prevents dual synchronization, one person can synch with the other. For instance, I can play a piece or passage on violin, or its piano accompaniment, and the student can play right along with me. The limitation here is that I can’t hear them, but they can hear me, and follow my nuances and cues, so this is something we can do when they are struggling with rhythms, pitches or dynamics etc. and need some guidance.

To further mitigate this limitation, I make “practice recordings” for my students wherein I play their piece, or a difficult passage of their piece, to play along with during their weekly practice. This is very similar to playing along in person, with the added benefit of being able to use the recording over and over again, and play along with me many times throughout the week!

I also make practice recordings of the piano accompaniment—which most violin teachers aren’t able to do—which allows my students to collaborate with and experience the fullness of a piece through a different instrument. Usually students just learn the violin part of a piece (one half of the whole), and rarely experience it in the way the composer intended, with the violin and piano together. With a recording of the piano accompaniment a student can experience the true art and musicality of a piece again and again. Even years later!

(And, using software such as Evaer or Pamela (for PCs) or Call Recorder for Skype (for Macs), students can easily record entire lessons for further study.)

I also insist students practice with a metronome, and encourage them to play along with quality recordings of their piece. This is an accompaniment in itself with many musical benefits, and from there it is an easy transition to playing with a live accompanist.

Finally, playing “copycat style” during a lesson (I play a little, they copy me, imitating correct pitch and tone quality) makes them more independent, helps them listen more carefully to themselves, not just me, and requires that they figure out how to make their sound match mine.

Considering this topic—playing along with the student—is considered perhaps the biggest drawback of online lessons, the above strategies go a long way to lessening one of the inherent limitations and concerns people have about Skype lessons.

3. If you can’t touch a student you will have trouble making corrections and imparting technique: Myth.

Creative use of descriptive language and demonstration as well as specifically targeted exercises are just as effective as manipulating through touch. While touch is nice, I have not encountered a case I could not correct through the webcam in the same amount of time.

4. You can’t point to a starting point on the sheet music. This will waste a lot of time: Myth.

In orchestras (or quartets), for example, the conductor will say, “starting from bar 32” or “begin at rehearsal letter A.” I do the same thing. This trains them to be more musically aware and more independent and ready for ensemble playing, and is much more efficient and professional in the long run. It doesn’t take long for students to become adept at this.

 

5. Tuning my instrument on my own will be too difficult: Myth.

Teaching a student to tune their violin is exactly the same process in person or via video. I teach students to tune via verbal instruction because learning to do it themselves, learning to listen to their sound, is a skill they need to acquire and master. It doesn’t take long for most students to become proficient. In the meantime the student can use “fine tuners” or “perfection pegs” to assist until they have it mastered. The only exception is young children, in which case I teach the parent to do it until the child is ready.

What are some of the benefits of Skype?

Focus: Several recent studies have shown students are more focused and attentive on camera/online than in person. I have observed this in my own students as well. I notice less time is wasted, and that our time is spent more efficiently.

Technically: If they choose, students can record the lessons, both the audio and video. I can make practice recordings and transfer them to you during the lesson for immediate use post-lesson. There is instant access to online tools and materials which assist the learning process.

Logistically: No driving (saves time, gas money), no fighting traffic or the weather, you are in the comfort of your own home (can eat supper or hop into bed two minutes after your lesson!), if you move away I can still teach you.

• Can violin lessons via Skype work for kids?

Absolutely! I have taught many children under eight on Skype with great success. For younger children, having a parent present is crucial to help the child understand what is being asked, to help adjust their form and posture at my request, and to help walk them through the practice instructions during the week. As mentioned, I have noticed that on webcam all students tend to have better focus, and it is most noticeable in the younger ones, who seem to be enamored with the “TV” aspect of online lessons.

• Should the parent be present?

Most definitely for children under 8, and older than that, as needed. I will give detailed practice instructions that most students can easily follow by themselves, but every child and situation is different. As they become older, it is generally better for the student to be completely alone in a quiet room for the best sense of focus and attention.

• How do I get started?

Just send me an email detailing your background in violin, your specific goals, and your schedule availability. From there, we will set up a complimentary consultation to meet each other, answer quesions, check the connection and walk through the best webcam/lighting angles and set-up.

February 1st, 2015

Youth Concerto Classic Soloists 2015

southwest symphony
Congratulations to Rylee Dalton and Whisper Sariah Saltzman… chosen to solo with the Southwest Symphony on April 3rd, 2015! Sariah will be performing the beautifully lyrical first movement from Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, and Rylee will be following with the fiery rhythmical third movement from the same Concerto. Barber is an American composer who lived from 1910-1981 and composed many works for orchestra as well as the famous movement from his Op. 11 String Quartet “Adagio for Strings.”

The Youth Concerto Classic Concert is at 7:30pm in the Cox Auditorium on the Dixie University Campus. You can order tickets or get more information here: http://www.southwestsymphony.co/concert-dates.html

January 29th, 2015

Online Violin Lessons via Skype

Skype Violin TeacherI have been teaching violin since 1983 (age 11), most recently in St. George, Utah, since moving to the area in 2002. In addition to private lessons, I have taught quartets and orchestras as well as at violin workshops and retreats.

I have a Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy from BYU, and presently study chamber music at the Chamber Music Conference of the East in Bennington VT, and privately with Calvin Wiersma of The Manhattan String Quartet, and Amy Galuzzo of Carpe Diem String Quartet.

Locally, I’ve been an Adjunct Private Teacher with Dixie State University (’04-’09), am a past Concertmaster with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra (’04-’06), and am presently the first violinist with The Empyrean String Quartet. To read a more detailed summary of my background click here.

I am a professional, full-time, private violin teacher with a well-developed program that has been relentlessly honed to get results. However, I’m happy to tailor that program to best suit each individual and their unique goals.

While results are important, I believe in developing a relationship with my students using patience, gentleness, and kindness as my guiding principles.

I teach students of all levels: from beginners to advanced, from four-year-olds and 60-year-olds just starting out to university students majoring in violin.

My students have earned scholarships to the Eastman School of Music, BYU, the University of Utah and many others.

In the past ten years I’ve had 22 students win Music Sterling Scholar (including three Regional Music Sterling Scholar winners, and three Regional Music Sterling Scholar runners-up), 17 students selected to perform at the Salute to Youth Concert with the Southwest Symphony, and 15 students selected to All-State orchestra, including two concertmasters (2010, 2011), as well as the concertmaster for the St. George Youth Orchestra (2012).

I teach online lessons via Skype, and have taught students as far away as Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Canada and around the United States, including Hawaii.

My rate is $60 per hour.

Here is a post detailing some of the common questions and answers regarding Skype violin lessons.

Click on “Contact” at the top of any page to email me to inquire about lessons or with any questions you might have. I offer a complimentary consultation with prospective students on Skype prior to beginning lessons.

skype-violin-lessons

December 21st, 2014

Beethoven Op. 74 “Harp” String Quartet

This video contains excerpts from Beethoven String Quartet Op. 74, nicknamed “Harp” performed by my string quartet at a recent Soiree. The Harp refers to the pizzicato sections in the first movement reminiscent of the plucking of a harp. (This nickname was created by his publisher.) This quartet was written in Beethoven’s Middle Period, and is similar in many ways to the famous 5th Symphony. The Heroic quality pervades the first movement, building to a critical point wherein the first violin breaks out into a soloistic bravura, the other three instruments solidifying and growing more intense underneath, building in a brilliant flurry to a climactic arrival point. This is followed by a beautifully melodic and soulful slow rondo in the key of A-flat major, with episodes of melancholy intermingled with exquisite beauty. Thereafter comes an intense Scherzo, rhythmically reminiscent of the 5th Symphony, which is reinforced by a striking pianissimo pass of the final strain leading us into the final movement. This last piece of the puzzle, however, reverts back to the classical, traditional form of a Theme and Variations, clearly poking fun at the earlier drama. Here, Beethoven bypasses the expected blazing finale, leaving us instead with some delightful variations, punctuated with clear humor on the last two notes.

December 18th, 2014

Music Sterling Scholar Winners!

Utah-Sterling-ScholarA big congratulations to Abby Wuehler for winning the Music Sterling Scholar at Desert Hills High School and to Kaelie Gillespie for winning the Music Sterling Scholar at Pine View High School!

This honor represents years of hard work and dedication and is a testament to their character, work ethic, and talent!

Way to go, girls!

December 17th, 2014

Online Violin Lessons: Why Skype?

skype-violin-lessons

Skeptical? So was I.

I first entertained the idea of Skype lessons when there were no local cello teachers for my daughter and I resorted to a Skype teacher for her. I was blown away by its effectiveness, her rapid progress, and the utter convenience — no need to drive her anywhere, and her lessons didn’t even need to fit into my schedule — she could take her lesson while I was at work or in the kitchen making supper.

Thereafter, I began giving my own private students the option of a Skype lesson when they were traveling or out of town, and was again amazed at how similar it was to in-person lessons, and how much we could still accomplish.

Then I delightfully realized I myself could study this way and began taking Skype lessons, and now study with a teacher I love and admire who lives in New York. And the lessons are phenomenal! They are fun, engaging, and extremely helpful. A new world was opening up to me and I was incredibly excited. At this point, I was sold! I was off to the races and began to teach my own Skype students with great success.

While there are a couple obvious drawbacks to Skype — for which I have developed workarounds — there are also several advantages teaching-wise: e.g., students are more attentive on camera than in person, less time is wasted, lessons are more focused, and there is instant access to online tools and materials.

Over the past five years I have taught many students via Skype and have found their progress to be identical to my in-person students.

Once this was established, and considering the other conveniences — zero driving time, no fighting traffic or weather, saving gas money, no waiting time, more scheduling options, the comfort of being in one’s own home — Skype became a compelling option.

Click on “Contact” at the top of any page to email me for more information or to schedule a lesson.

Skype is free and works on both PCs and Macs. (Download Skype for free.)

December 1st, 2014

Skype Violin Lesson Policy

violin and musicTeaching violin is the profession to which I have dedicated my life. It is important to me that there is a good student-teacher fit. I only accept and keep students who are responsible and respectful. This includes:

Attitude: Cheerfully and cooperatively following all directions during your lesson, honestly reporting your practice time.

Practice: In order for you to progress it is of paramount importance that you follow the practice chart as precisely as possible.

Attendance: Please let me know in advance if you are unable to attend your lesson. Please note: I am unable to give extra lesson time to students who are late for their lessons.

An occasional off-week is wholly understandable, but any student showing a pattern of poor practice, attitude, or attendance will be referred to a different teacher who might be better suited for them.

Tuition & Payment

Payments are made through Popmoney. A link can be found under the LESSONS tab drop down at the top of the website.

Lesson tuition is due before or on the FIRST day of each month. If payment is not received before the first day of each month, a late fee of $10 will be immediately applied.

If you would like more information on anything mentioned during the course of this policy, I warmly invite all inquiries.

Technology

I am unable to give extra lesson time to students who experience webcam issues or dropped connections. (Have your phone handy for emergencies — we can finish the lesson that way if necessary.)

February 17th, 2014

Pianist Mykola Suk in Concert

Mykola SukMarch 1st, 2014 7:30pm in the Fibonacci Gallery (1495 S. Blackridge Dr.)

Mykola will be performing Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, in an arrangement with string quartet (Bonnie Romkey-violin, Urs Rutishauser-violin, Jason Bonham-viola, Jim Hardy-Cello, Robbie Mattheson-Bass).

Tickets are (in advance) $20, 2 for $35. At the door, they are $25 a piece, and students $15. You can reach the Fibonacci Gallery office at 435-656-3377 or write to Barbara at barbara@fibonaccifinearts.com

Mykola Suk gained international recognition as the winner of the First Prize and Gold Medal at the 1971 International Liszt-Bartok Competition in Budapest, Hungary. Still very much attached to Liszt’ music, he was called “the greatest present-day Liszt pianist” by former music critic for the New York Times, Joseph Horowitz. His international career has spanned four continents, performing in the most prestigious venues from the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory to Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Mr. Suk has given recitals in countries of the former Soviet Union, France, Germany, England, Finland, Egypt, Mexico, United States, Canada, Korea, China, Mongolia and Australia. He has appeared as soloist with numerous leading orchestras, from the Russian National Symphony under Mikhail Pletnev to the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under Roman Kofman. He has collaborated artistically with the world’s outstanding conductors, among them Charles Bruck, János Ferencsik, Arvid Jansons, Stefan Turchak, James DePreist and Carl St. Clair. His passion for chamber music has brought him to many distinguished chamber music festivals and collaborations throughout the world, among them, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Finland), Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Kiev International Music Festival (Ukraine) and International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York.

December 29th, 2013

Support Erika Dalton!

erikaRecently, a former student,  Erika Dalton,  entered her first international music competition, the American Protege International Competition of Romantic Music, and not only was she the only violinist to place, she took 1st Place overall amongst all instruments going up against serious and dedicated young musicians from around the world!  As a result Erika has been invited to solo at Carnegie Hall, a goal she has had since she was 7.

Getting Erika and her accompanist out to Carnegie hall won’t be cheap, but Master Chef Imi Kun out at the Riverwalk Grill at Sun River has graciously offered to put on a benefit dinner party to help Erika raise the travel funds.  The menu Chef Imi has put together is absolutely tantalizing, makes your mouth water just looking at the courses, and we’ll combine live music, both classical and jazz, for the event. We are calling it “Romancing the Senses.”
“Romancing the Senses.” is Friday January 3 from 6:30 pm, and is $25 per ticket.  A modest portion of each ticket will benefit Carnegie Hall travel.  To reserve tickets, one can call the Riverwalk Grill at 435-773-4111
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December 22nd, 2013

Missed Lesson Policy

Missed LessonThere are no make-ups for lessons missed or canceled on the day of the lesson, and tuition is still due as normal. Remember, you are paying for a lesson time, not the lesson itself.

Make-ups are only possible when I am contacted by phone or email at least 24 hours before a scheduled lesson.

Extended absences: If you need to take a month’s break (or longer) at any time during the year, there are two options: (1) I fill your time slot with a student from the waiting list and when you are ready to resume lessons, I bump you to the top of the waiting list. (2) Pay your normal monthly tuition to retain your lesson time for your return. Please note: There are no schedule or policy changes during summer. Please call ahead of time to arrange make-ups for traveling.

My intention is to have a missed-lesson policy that is simple and easy to administer, and one that honors the value of my time in that if someone fails to show up for their lesson, that same portion of my day is still spent preparing and waiting for their scheduled arrival, and thus deserves the normal compensation. Also, that portion of my schedule is contracted out to that individual in lieu of other students on my waiting list who are eagerly awaiting and available for any possible openings.

September 5th, 2012

The Case for Active Practicing

Violin_thumbThe Case for Active Practicing, by Henry Myers

Practicing: the word itself inspires pain, suffering, depression, boredom, angst, and turmoil; it evokes images of stern-looking students, arduously drilling a passage until they either squeeze out five consecutive successes or quit in frustration. The sheer effort that it requires seems monstrous and intimidating; the payoff, relatively small.

Predictably, it’s an activity that relatively few people enjoy.

I myself have struggled with it for most of my life. Having professional musicians for parents and an aspiring cellist for a brother, playing the cello always felt more obligatory than elective, and thus I learned to resent practicing and avoided it at all costs; subsequently, my inability to play well induced much pain during my lessons, where I was often brought to tears by my teacher (no hard feelings!)

Eventually I realized that I did, in fact, want to play the cello, and starting about 9th grade I became a practicing fiend; in the following years I would only log more and more hours. Yet I felt like the archetypal student musician (as the image so succinctly and somewhat humorously depicts). While I did improve over my high school years, I often felt that the countless hours I put in weren’t quite paying off. I tormented myself with thoughts of being inadequate, untalented, unintelligent.

Why was I so incapable of efficiency?

Truth be told, I was inefficient because in my practicing I placed repetition over thought. Compared to the sheer amount of hours I practiced, the level of brainpower that I exerted was rather underwhelming. I didn’t really have a coherent method: I just practiced somewhat aimlessly until I either hit some preplanned number of hours or drowned in frustration.

Once, during a moment of exasperation as I neared a deadline, I was told not to worry; that even if my progress seemed stagnant, if I continued to work I would eventually have an epiphanic moment where everything would come together. Instead of feeling soothed, though, I felt angry. Why can’t progress happen incrementally? Why does practicing necessarily have to be so passive? Ironically, I found the answer by examining that question.

See, the term “practicing” is deceptive. It should instead be thought of as “learning”.

This may seem like a tautology, but it really isn’t. The term “practicing” suggests repetition, while “learning” suggests the acquisition of knowledge, which is what I believe the colloquial “practicing” should be. Furthermore, “practicing” is passive; learning is active. To define the italicized terms, let us consider the mind.

For practical purposes, imagine that your mind is neatly divided into conscious and subconscious halves. The conscious is active; it’s basically what most people would identify as the “thinking” part, in which thoughts occur and observations are made; we control this part directly. The subconscious, is passive; it functions behind the scenes and is responsible for taking the observations made in the conscious mind and memorizing, interconnecting, and abstracting. It is also responsible for what we call “intuition”, which could be understood as unconscious reasoning. The subconscious is basically out of our control.

When we practice, we too often leave the process of abstraction entirely to our subconscious. If we keep missing a shift, for example, and try to remedy it by sheer repetition, we have to wait until our unconscious mind develops a solution based on repetitive data. However, if we instead stop to examine the problem consciously, we provide our subconscious with a variety of more helpful information that it can much more quickly extrapolate into something useful.

To be clear, I don’t advocate trying to replace your subconscious functions with your conscious functions. First, it’s impossible, and second, you WANT your subconscious to work for you! It’s incredibly powerful and capable of doing amazing things. What you don’t want is to rely entirely on it. Instead, use your conscious to guide your subconscious. The conscious part of the mind needs to play a more active role in learning.

Let’s return to the shifting example. Rather than merely attempting the shift several thousand times, ask yourself what you can learn about it. For example:

What do the positions that I’m shifting between feel like? What fingers are on what notes? How does the hand balance on the instrument?
How can I go between the two positions fluidly? How do I feel and understand the transition?
How can I work vibrato into my shift? How can I coordinate it into the shift?

Answering these questions involves experimenting physically, so while it’s possible to abstract something verbally about what you discover, the answer itself may be non-communicable. Eventually, this process can be automated, where solutions and ideas just occur naturally. Once you have answered these questions, i.e figured out how to improve the shift, then it’s time for repetition. Repetition is used to convince yourself that what you’re doing is correct, and to establish everything as part of a sequence of motions. In that way, repetition allows you to merge a process into a single thought.

After you finish practicing that shift, set it aside until the next time you practice. If you come back to it in an hour, you might find that you can’t exercise the ability that you worked on, that you can’t activate the mental pathways you thought were created. This doesn’t mean that your practice was lost: in fact, it probably means that your subconscious is processing it. So put it away, sleep, and give your mind time to work. When you start practicing in the morning, you might find that you know the shift better than you did before. Congratulations! Your practice was effective. It wasn’t boring at all; it was just like solving a puzzle. It was even fun. Now it’s time to start practicing again, but fortunately you’ve gained ground since yesterday and have new puzzles to solve.

It has always been the case that much of the process of learning is subconscious. However, we tend to struggle with practicing because they simply go through the motions and rely almost entirely on whatever the subconscious does to learn. What we need to be doing instead is actively using our conscious to investigate, analyze, and solve problems. Practicing shouldn’t be a mindless, repetitive exercise; it should instead be both mindful and informative. If I could leave you with a single thought, remember that practicing is learning: learning to practice is only a specialized version of learning to learn, and learning starts with thought. Remember, activity is key. Now get off your butt and go practice.

Or rather, get off your butt and go learn.

December 8th, 2011

A Different Practice Method

energy Here is an important article on practicing by Scott Speck (Please read, students!):

Your brain is like a computer. It can learn almost anything you put into it, and repeat it back practically flawlessly. Why, then, should it be so tricky to learn a difficult piece of music? I believe it’s because we constantly enter the wrong data into our computer.

Think about this: when most musicians practice a difficult passage, what do they do? They play it at or near full speed, and get it wrong. Then they play it at full speed again, and get it wrong again. And again. And again! Then, finally, almost by chance, they get it right – once. Satisfied, they go on to the next passage.

So what has the brain (and finger and bow arm and embouchure) learned from this practice? It has stored the data that was input the first time, and the greatest number of times – the incorrect data. Can you blame it? Just like an advanced computer, when called upon in performance, the brain can then retrieve this incorrect data flawlessly. The result is a replica of all the mistakes in practice – a very messy performance.

The key to effective practice, then, is never to input the incorrect data in the first place. It follows that if you never make a mistake in practice, you will be practically incapable of making that mistake in performance.

Never make a mistake in practice? How is that possible? Let me show you how.

For any passage within the realm of your technique, there exists a tempo at which you could play it flawlessly right now.  Once you find that tempo, you are on your way to playing it quickly and fluently.

Let’s take an example. Say you want to learn an incredibly fast passage made up of thirty-second notes, at the tempo of quarter note = 100. When you look at it, it’s overwhelming. When you try to play it with the metronome set at 100, not only do you miss notes constantly, but you are also seized by a very uneasy feeling. Your stomach tightens up. Your jaw tightens. Your breathing becomes shallow and inefficient. In short, you panic.

But wait. What if, instead of thirty-second notes, this passage were made up completely of whole notes? Could you play the passage right now? Of course. Furthermore, you could play it in tune, in perfect rhythm, and with a beautiful tone. Best of all, you would feel no panic whatsoever. In its place there would be a beautiful feeling of ease and grace.

So try this: Put the metronome on 100 as before, but this time, each note gets four beats of the metronome. In other words, treat each note as a whole note.

Once you have played the passage through, put the metronome up a notch or two and play it again. Still almost laughably easy, right? That’s the whole point. Now keep increasing the speed, going up a notch or two with each repetition. When the beat gets fast enough, lower the metronome again and start playing each note as if it were a half note – two beats to each note. As you progress, you can go to one beat per note. And so on.

Keep repeating the passage, one or two notches faster each time, until you feel just the very slightest twinge of unease while playing. At this point, stop. You have reached the limit of effortless playing for today.

Tomorrow, start the metronome a few notches lower than were you left off today. You’ll find that you can get the passage even faster before you have to stop. By the day after tomorrow, you will be flying.

It is extremely important here to stop whenever you begin to lose that feeling of ease – any further practice would be counterproductive. In this method, we always want to bring that feeling with us as we increase the tempo. The reason is simple: If the brain senses ease in connection with this passage 100 percent of the time in practice, it can only sense ease in performance.

With this method, you can master almost any difficult passage in three or four daily sessions of five to ten minutes each. I predict that when you learn this way, your results will be extraordinarily effective and reliable. And the beauty is, your computer will always retrieve the data correctly.

Try this method with each of the tricky passages in your music. I believe you will be surprised and thrilled to see what happens.

December 7th, 2011

Student Awards

Carolyn Salvador – Winner of 2017 Silver State Competition in Las Vegas, NV 

Ruth Ferguson – Fiddler on the Roof for Desert Hills High School 2017 Theater Production

Hannah Klassen – 2017 Regional Music Sterling Scholar

Audrey Godfrey – Chosen in the 18th Annual Immanuel and Helen B. Olshan Foundation Virtuosi of Houston Concerto Competition

Sailor Mylroie & Hannah Klassen – Chosen for the High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall 2017

Abbey Bennion – Winner of the 2017 Music Listening Contest for Minnesota and Utah

Hannah Klassen – 2017 Music Sterling Scholar for Cedar High School

Whisper Sariah Saltzman – 2017 Music Sterling Scholar for Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts

Audrey Godfrey – Chosen as one the “Virtuosi 12” to play at the Congressional Dinner for the 45th Presidential Inauguration, January 18, 2017

Whisper Sariah Saltzman – Selected for 2017 All-State Orchestra Concert Master

Aly Candland, Hannah Klassen, Ruth Ferguson, Whisper Sariah Saltzman – Selected for 2017 All-State Orchestra

Carolyn Salvador – Winner of the Golden Violin Award 2016

Abby Clark, Aly Candland & Audrey Godfrey – Selected for Youth Concerto Classic 2016 with the Southwest Symphony

Megumi Gass Terry – 1st Place Winner of International American Protege Strings Competition 2016

Abby Clark – 2016 Honors Orchestra Concertmaster, Sariah Saltzman – Assistant Concertmaster

Ruth Ferguson – 2016 Junior Honors Orchestra Concertmaster, Aly Candland – Assistant Concertmaster

McKenzie Sampson – 2016 All-Around Sterling Scholar for Desert Hills High School

Abby Clark – 2016 Music Sterling Scholar for Desert Hills High School

Abby Clark, Aly Candland, Hannah Klassen, McKenzie Sampson, Whisper Sariah Saltzman – Selected for 2016 All-State Orchestra

Abby Clark, Genesis Gonzales, Matthew Gonzales, McKenzie Sampson & Whisper Sariah Saltzman – 2016 SUPAF Category Winners

Ruth Ferguson & McKenzie Sampson – 2016 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Abby Clark, Aly Candland, Hannah Klassen, McKenzie Sampson, Ruth Ferguson – Superior Ratings at Solo and Ensemble Competition, qualifying for State Solo and Ensemble

Savannah Langston – Winner of the Talent Award (with violin) in the 2015 Miss St. George Pageant

Abby Wuehler – 2015 Regional Music Sterling Scholar

Kaelie Gillespie – 2015 Regional Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up

Abby Clark, Aly Candland, Audrey Godfrey, Fiona Fackrell, Sailor & West Mylroie, Sandy Pulsipher, Sariah Saltzman – 2015 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Abby Clark, Alex Heizer, Aly Candland, Audrey Godfrey, Britanee & Rylee Dalton,  Elly Winder, Fiona & Ian Fackrell, Genesis & Matthew Gonzales,  Jill Gibson McKenzie Sampson – 2015 SUPAF Award Recipients

Sariah Saltzman & Rylee Dalton – Selected for Youth Concerto Classic 2015 with the Southwest Symphony

Kaelie Gillespie – 2015 Music Sterling Scholar for Pine View High School

Abby Wuehler – 2015 Music Sterling Scholar for Desert Hills High School

Abby Clark, Abby Wuehler, Eli Wrankle, Hannah Klassen, Kaelie Gillespie, McKenzie Sampson, Whisper Sariah Saltzman – Selected for 2015 All-State Orchestra

Sandy Pulsipher – 2014 Finalist in Dixie’s Got Talent

Emma Humphries – Winner of 2014 Peach Days Fiddle Competition

Kathryn Porter – 2014 Music Sterling Scholar for Tuacahn High School

Isabelle Barlow, Kaelie Gillespie, Alex Heizer, Kathryn Porter, Sariah Saltzman, and Elly Winder – 2014 SUPAF Award Recipients

Aly Candland, Rylee Dalton, Ian Fackrell, Alexandra Heizer, Hannah Klassen, Mariah Larsen, Kathryn Porter, Sariah Saltzman, Elly Winder – 2014 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Kathryn Porter, Abby Clark, Abby Wuehler – Selected as soloists for Salute to Youth 2014

Abby Clark, Kaelie Gillespie, Hannah Klassen, Abby Wuehler – Selected for All-State Orchestra 2014

Erika Dalton – Scheduled to solo at Carnagie Hall March 2014

Zoey Baril – 2014  Music Sterling Scholar for Pine View High School

Sandy Pulsipher, Sara Ipson – 2013 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Mariah Larsen, Star Passey, Audrey Godfrey, Kathryn Porter – 2013 SUPAF Award Recipients

Joelle Henrie – 2013 Music Sterling Scholar for Desert Hills High School

Abby Wuehler – Selected for All-State Orchestra 2013 (and Abby Clark selected as an alternate)

Hillary Dalton, Rylee Dalton – Selected as soloist for Cedar City Young Artist Concert 2013

Sariah Saltzman – Won the Mesquite Talent Show 2012

Kezia Brown, Hillary Dalton, Joelle Henrie – Selected as soloist for Salute to Youth 2013

Emma Humphries – Winner of 2012 Peach Days Fiddle Competition – Small Fry Division

Hannah Covey – Winner of Mesquite’s Got Talent and a $500 Scholarship

Abbey Hafen – 2012 Regional Music Sterling Scholar

Hillary Dalton, Whitney Wittwer, Larrea Cottingham, Carilyn Pointer – 2012 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Fiona Fackrell – 2012 SUPAF Award Recipient

Jasmine Candland  – 2012 Music Sterling Scholar for Desert Hills High School

Abbey Hafen – 2012 Music Sterling Scholar for Snow Canyon High School

Hillary Dalton – Concertmaster for the St. George Youth Orchestra 2012

Larrea Cottingham – Selected as soloist for Salute to Youth 2012

Jasmine Candland, Joelle Henrie – Selected  for 2012 All-State Orchestra

Hannah Covey – 2011 Miss Mesquite Outstanding Teen, Talent: Violin

Josh Winder – 2011 Music Sterling Scholar for Dixie High School

Megumi Gass – 2011 Music Sterling Scholar for Pine View High School

Callen Crenshaw – 2011 Music Sterling Scholar for Snow Canyon High School

Marisa Barth – 2011 Music Sterling Scholar for Canyon View High School

Sabrina Parry – Selected as a Finalist for Salute to Youth 2011 with the Salt Lake Symphony

Sabrina Parry – Selected for 2011 Concert Master for All-State Orchestra 2011

Sabrina Parry – Selected as a soloist for St. George Salute to Youth Concert 2011

Callen Crenshaw – Miss St. George 2011, Talent: Violin

Jocelyn Bozarth – Miss Ivins 2011, Talent: Violin

Marisa Barth – Selected as a soloist for Cedar City Young Artist Concert 2010

Hillary Dalton – Selected as a soloist for Cedar City Young Artist Concert 2010

Megumi Gass – Selected for 2010 Concert Master for All-State Orchestra

Lexie Dalton – Selected to perform a solo with ZYSO

Hillary Dalton – Selected to solo with ZYSO 2009

Hillary Dalton – Selected for 2009-2010 ZYSO Concert Master

Megumi Gass – Selected for 2009 ASTA National HS Honors Orchestra

Marisa Barth – 2009 Selected as the Summer Greenshow Fiddler in Cedar City’s Shakespearean Festival

Megumi Gass – 2009 Chosen to perform with Pleasant Grove Orchestra Salute to Youth Concert

Megan Manwaring – 2009 Miss Toquerville, Talent: Violin

Savannah Slater, Braden Slater, Marisa Barth – 2009 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Megumi Gass, Tavish Nelsen & Brandon Graves, Lexie Dalton, Rylee Dalton – 2009 SUPAF Award Recipients

Blair Miller – 2009 First place in strings for RMACS Competition in Idaho

Janessa Fisher – 2009 Miss Hurricane and Top Talent

Megumi Gass – 2009 finalist for Young Artist Concert

Christoffer Devantier – 2009 Salute to Youth selection

Hillary Dalton – 2009 Salute to Youth selection

Clark Slater – 2009 Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up for Snow Canyon High School

Shelley Gardiner – 2009 Music Sterling Scholar for Dixie High School

Megumi Gass – 2008 1st place winner, state level ASTA Solo Competition

Megumi Gass – 2008 2nd place winner, State Fair Music Competition

Tara Sevy – 2008 Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up for Dixie High School

Blaine Allan – 2008 Selected to solo with the Symphony of the Canyons

Josh Winder – 2008 Salute to Youth selection

Callen Crenshaw – 2007 Selected to solo with the Southwest Symphony

Amy McDonald – 2007 Regional Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up

Jasmine Candland, Christoffer Devantier, Maren Ettinger, Abbey Hafen, Alex Miller – 2007 SUSF Gold Cup Recipients

Haylie Slater – 2007 Music Sterling Scholar for Snow Canyon High School

Amy McDonald – 2007 Music Sterling Scholar for Dixie High School

Sean Sevy – 2007 Music Sterling Scholar Runner-up for Dixie High School

Megan Nielsen – 2007 Salute to Youth selection

Tara Sevy – 2007 Salute to Youth selection

Danica Adam – 2007 Music Scholarship to Dixie State College

Haylie Slater – 2007 Salute to Youth selection

Deborah Johnson – 2006 Full Music Scholarship to University of Utah

Stephanie Nielsen – 2006 Full (4 year) Violin Performance Scholarship to BYU

Stephanie Nielsen – 2006 Regional Music Sterling Scholar

Stephanie Nielsen – 2006 Music Sterling Scholar for Snow Canyon High School

Heather Payne – 2006 Music Sterling Scholar for Hurricane High School

Deborah Johnson – 2006 Music Sterling Scholar for Tooele High School

Amy McDonald – 2006 Salute to Youth selection

Sarah Manweiler – 2006 Salute to Youth selection

Karlee McMullin – 2005 Music Sterling Scholar for Tuacahn High School

Amber Morris – 2005 Salute to Youth selection

April 7th, 2011

Regional Sterling Scholar for Music: Megumi Gass

music violinI am very happy to report that tonight Megumi Gass was named Regional Sterling Scholar for Music, and Callen Crenshaw was runner-up!

These are extremely high distinctions; the competition for these honors is exceptionally strong, comprising the Sterling Scholars in Music from 17 different schools in the region.

Congratulations, girls! We love you and are so proud of you.

I want to take this opportunity to extend my love and support to each and every student. Josh Winder and Marisa Barth also participated in this event, as the Sterling Scholars from their schools, and I was absolutely thrilled with their performances, and for who they are and what they represent. I have so much admiration and respect for my students, not only for the wonderful things they learn on their instruments, the beautiful music they make, and the recognition and awards they earn for their tireless efforts, but for who they are as sensitive, kind, and thoughtful human beings. I feel honored to have in my studio the students that I do.

March 18th, 2011

Studio Updates

So much has been happening in the studio over the past couple of months!  Out of hundreds of auditioners from all over the world, BYU only selected 11 serious violinists into their intensive and competitive music program, and two of them are right from our studio – congratulations Megumi Gass and Christoffer Devantier!  Marisa Barth is the 12th place and first on the waiting list should someone cancel.  All four of our auditioners played very well and received high praise.  Callen Crenshaw auditioned for and won a place in the University of Utah’s prestigious and highly sought after music program, to study with some of the top violinists in the state – congratulations!  We are very proud of all of  you.

In February, we had many students perform at SUPAF here in St. George, and we all had a fantastic experience! Jason Bonham was the adjudicator, and gave excellent feedback, and kudos to all of you.  Sabrina Parry was chosen to play in the SUPAF Festival Concert and wowed the audience with her fiery rendition of Lalo’s Symphony Espagnole.  She played this same piece earlier in the month for renowned violinist Alice Hallstrom, and will be performing it next month as a soloist with the Southwest Symphony.  Good luck, Sabrina!

Also in February, Megumi Gass soloed with the Orchestra of Southern Utah, performing Sarasate’s famous Zigeunerweisen.  Meg performed with courage and fire! Here is her review:

.

“We have a powerful potential in our youth,” declared FDR’s advisor Mary McCleod Bethune more than 60 years ago. That today’s youth still radiate powerful potential was more than evident to those attending the Orchestra of Southern Utah’s Roy L. Halverson Young Artist Concert Thursday night. Named for the music professor who did so much to enrich the region’s musical heritage during his 43-year career, the annual Halversen Young Artist Concert has established itself as one of Southern Utah’s prime venues for showcasing rising new talent.

That rising new talent was marvelously manifested when Megumi Gass (a senior at Pine View High School) opened the concert with her brilliant solo performance of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. In playing this technically demanding piece, Gass demonstrated her superb musical skills, playing with great passion and lyrical feeling. From the tautly dramatic opening notes through the more reflective and pensive later passages all the way to the feverishly kinetic conclusion, Gass cast a spell of musical enchantment over her enthralled listeners.”

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Way to go, Megumi!

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Earlier this month, many students from our studio performed at the Southern Utah String Festival held in Cedar City.  I have to say I LOVE festival days! It is so rewarding to see all the hard work pay off and transform into incredible performances – congratulations to all of you! Several received a Gold Cup and will be performing at the Gold cup recital on March 25th at the Piano Gallery.

Sterling Scholar

February 8th, 2011

Online Violin Lessons: Free Consultation

For a free consultation for online violin lessons contact me by email.

For those whose default email application won’t open a pop-up link, my email address is:

violin at bonnieromkey dot com

Expect the consultation to last about 15 minutes. We will meet, check our Skype connection, and discuss our mutual goals and expectations to see if we are a good match.

December 2nd, 2010

Christmas Recital!

christmastree8We have found a venue for the Christmas Recital (thank you, Kirsten!)  It will be held on Thursday, December 16th, at 7:30 at Desert Hills High School, Lecture Hall A.  Happy Practicing!

Update:  Congratulations to everyone for a beautiful and festive Christmas Recital! I love you all and hope you have a very merry holiday season!

August 13th, 2010

Fall Recital!

fall recitalGood luck to everyone participating in the recital this Tuesday! There has been a lot of terrific preparation made for this event by the students, and we are excited to perform.

Students, please be at the Tabernacle at 7pm to tune and warm up. The recital will begin at 7:30pm, at the St. George Tabernacle, at 18 S. Main St.

August 8th, 2010

Tools for Online Violin Lessons

Drones for Scales and Arpeggios

Metronome

Intonia

IMSLP – Music Library

July 15th, 2010

Benefit Concert for Haiti Relief

haitiI am happy to announce that Megumi Gass and I, along with the very talented Mami Dalton on piano, are giving a recital in support of the people in Haiti. It will be held this Saturday evening, July 17th at 7:30pm in the Opera House (212 N. Main). Please join us! The program will include works by Beethoven, Sarasate, and Saint-Saens, and all proceeds will be given to an orphanage in Haiti that was recently burned down. Thank you for your support!

July 14th, 2010

Contact: Email Address

Contact me by email.

For those whose default email application won’t open a pop-up link, my email address is:

violin at bonnieromkey dot com

May 14th, 2010

Playing with Fire

on fireCongratulations to everyone at the Spring Recital! This was a first in that we had two students (Ahnalisse and Brandon) play original pieces that they composed themselves! They were inspiring and powerfully expressive, and many of the concert-goers wanted me to pass along appreciation and admiration to both of you for sharing your pieces.

Each time there is a recital I take careful notice of what is going well (heart, musical sensitivity, and earnestness), and what needs to be addressed as a studio in general. In this case, three important items emerged.

First, we need more cowbell! I mean, more vibrato. Everywhere, from everyone! Vibrato is one of the most important keys to beautiful phrasing, and adds fire, vitality and your own unique sound to your pieces. It will take the heart and sensitivity that I mentioned above and send it into the musical stratosphere! How do we go about infusing our pieces with more vibrato? Like everything else: practice, practice, practice. Overdo your vibrato in home practice – be experimental, make it relaxed and wide, narrow and fast, inject it into every corner of your piece, and use a recorder or Intonia to check for any “dead” notes. Change your vibrato speed and range depending on your phrasing to shape your piece, make it yours, and make it come alive! It is difficult at first to keep your vibrato constant, but it will get much easier; as your creative use of it improves, so will your motivation. Vibrato is the gift that gives back. It allows you to experience and express what is inside of you. And as this process begins, and deepens, it ceases to be something “you have to practice,” you will be naturally drawn to the beauty it uncovers. Your vibrato will become an extension of your inner heart, and the song that plays there will express itself through every piece you ever play.

Secondly, be aware of any tension, especially in your face, jaw, and shoulders. Holding a violin under your chin while wielding a long stick comes with an obvious set of tension-related problems, and it takes focus, a mirror, and relaxed/deep breathing for the best and most natural posture. Lift your violin! It seems like this might make it harder to hold, but it will actually use gravity in your favor to keep your violin stable on shifts and vibrato, and give you better projection and stage presence as well.

The last thing I wanted to point out is the last thing in your performance – the ending! There were many powerful openings, but the last notes were less consistently convincing. Go out in flames! The ending can be the most exciting and beautiful part of a fabulous performance… and often the most memorable! Use lots of bow (be sure you are confident with your correct bowings in the last few bars), lots of energy and fire, and most importantly, lots of smile!

April 23rd, 2010

Perfect Practice

pointer‘One must practice slowly, then more slowly, and finally….slowly!’

Success with the violin depends on three core elements: love of music making, expert instruction, and faithful practice done with precision.

There are countless drills and practice methods which are necessary to reap great rewards, but the single most important method for the quickest advancement is practicing slowly. The rationale and principles behind this approach are manifold, rooted in both art and science:

‘Slow practice is the key to rapid technical progression. The cerebellum is a non-judgmental part of the brain: it assumes that any repetitive activity in the muscular system is being repeated because the conscious mind is trying to make it automatic. The cerebellum will be just as efficient an automizer of incorrect sequences of timing as of those that are correct. When practicing takes places at a pace too fast for accurate playing, there is very little chance for the material to be mastered, and reliable, confident performance simply will not occur. On the other hand, it is probably true that practice for speed is seldom necessary. The cerebellum can supply all the speed wanted if patterning is correct during practice.’ – Neurologist, Frank R. Wilson, on motor skills & instrumental performance.

The above information illustrates the accuracy of the age-old maxim:

‘If you practice it fast, and you miss a few notes, you are only practicing your mistakes.’

Practice does not make perfect; it makes permanent. So be aware of what you’re making permanent. The first time you play your piece or any section of it, be fanatically careful not to make any mistakes either in notes or in time values. If you have ever learned a passage incorrectly and had to go back and fix it, you will know what I mean. A martial arts teacher once told me that it took 100 correct repetitions to embed a new movement…but well over 700 repetitions to undo and re-learn the same movement if learned incorrectly the first time. This is why you see martial arts students performing their practice routines with such slow, careful precision. It is the same with violin.

‘A very fast technical passage should be worked out slowly, with ever increasing speed. I find a metronome very valuable for this. The metronome is set at a speed slow enough to enable the player to negotiate the passage easily. Set it slow that everything – dynamics, articulations, intonation and rhythm – can all be observed and played, leaving only the correct tempo to be achieved. The speed is then advanced one notch each time the passage is played successfully, until the speed is more than the proper tempo.’ – Philip Farkas, ‘The Art of Brass Playing’

When you execute a passage with speed, it’s quite natural – even subconsciously – to try and put power into your movements. Slow practice unveils weaknesses, inconsistencies, and errors. Soft practice allows us to let go of old ways of generating strength and delivering power. The essence of artistic violin performance is relaxed strength.

‘….You cannot achieve speed by speedy practice. The only way to get fast is to be deep, wide awake, and slow. When you habitually zip through your music, your ears are crystallizing sloppiness. ….Pray for the patience of a stonecutter. ….Pray to understand that speed is one of those things you have to give up – like love – before it comes flying to you through the back window.’ W.A. Mathieu, ‘The Listening Book’

Aaron Shearer, a famous classical guitar pedagogue, was an advocate of ‘aim directed movement’, which is having a clear understanding of where the fingers need to go before you move them there.  Aim directed movement can only be accomplished by slow practice.

The slow practice of fast, technical passages has great value, but just playing through something slowly is not the complete answer. We have to practice correctly while playing slowly. How do we accomplish this? During fast passages, our fingers not only move quickly from one note to the next, but they do so without stopping; they do so without any pause between the various intervals. This is where slow practice can be helpful, if it is done correctly.

What constitutes the correct slow practice of fast, technical passages? The key concept is to practice at a very slow tempo, while moving the fingers rapidly and precisely when changing notes. I call this ‘practicing fast, slowly.’ It is not a contradiction! ‘Slow fingers’ move with a languid, flowing motion. The fingers seem to help blend the notes together, enhancing the legato effect. ‘Fast fingers’ change notes quickly, deliberately, precisely, and immediately, helping to clearly enunciate each note.

Practicing slowly with ‘slow fingers’ does little to improve fast passage work when the correct tempo is later taken up. However, practicing slowly with ‘fast fingers’ can work wonders for improving rapid, technical passages. To ‘practice fast, slowly,’ select a very slow tempo with long note values substituted for short values. Move the fingers quickly and precisely at the exact moment the notes change. (It may feel as if you are suddenly jerking the fingers from one note to the next.)

During slow practice with ‘fast fingers’, your fingers are actually moving through the intervals just as rapidly as they will when you later speed up the tempo. However, since the tempo is slow, you have removed the obstacle of rapid succession. In reality, the fingers move through the notes quickly, but since they move one interval at a time, the passage is now completely manageable. Most important of all, you are practicing the very motions – the rapid changes of finger position – that you need to make at the fast tempo. What you now have is effective slow practice of rapid, technical passages.

April 23rd, 2010

Purchase Guide

Purchase GuidePurchasing a violin is often a significant expenditure, a long-term investment, and determines the quality of instrument you’ll be playing on for years to come. For these reasons it’s important to invest enough time to get it right. These tips are meant only as a guide, not as a fully comprehensive purchase manual. Please take your time, ask a lot of questions, test drive the violin, and use your best judgment.

1. Involve Your Teacher

Teachers are great resources because they have a wealth of knowledge and experience assisting many different students in their purchases with various dealers and makers. They can also help you determine the appropriate violin range based on their intimate familiarity of level, progress, motivation, commitment, and future goals. When you are trying out an instrument, bring it to your teacher so they can help look for more subtle distinctions in quality and value.

2. Determine Appropriate Instrument

A. Personal Requirements: What does the range of your playing include: solos, orchestra, chamber music, personal enjoyment and expression? Will you be pursuing music academically or as a career? What is your level of playing ability, progress, motivation, commitment, and future goals? What is the proper size?

Sometimes a poorer instrument may be holding a student back, cause frustration, lack of motivation and even injury. A good instrument can accelerate progress, increase motivation, increase technical skills and musical expressiveness by allowing a student to play on a better sounding, more responsive instrument.

B. Personal Taste: Each player has their personal preferences suited to their tastes and individual ear, personality and expressiveness. Some may prefer a brighter sound, while others a richer, warmer tone. This may change as you play a wider variety of violins, but before heading to a dealer have an initial idea as to what you feel best suits your tastes.

C. Establishing Price Range: Pre-determine your price range and have it in mind when you call to make an appointment to see instruments. That way the shop you are dealing with can ready instruments in that range for you to consider. If you don’t want to spend more than a certain dollar amount make sure to communicate this to the seller. For the education of your ear or for your curiosity, you may want to ask to hear instruments in the next range up or down.

Once you’ve established both need, taste and price range, you can then embark on finding the best possible instrument that meets your requirements, and gives you good value for your investment. This can best be accomplished through a bit of research.

D. Research: Discover the key qualities you’re seeking in a violin for the price range you’ve selected. These can include: craftsmanship, present condition, response, expressiveness, projection, ringing tone color and sound quality, durability, re-sale value etc.

Educate yourself on the differences between lower, medium and higher quality violins. Learn how a better violin can enable you to develop your sound. Also research makers and sellers/shops (see below). Once you start test driving violins, part of your research will be in seeking the opinions of a variety of people.

3. Finding The Right Seller/Maker/Shop:

A. Reputation: Are they well-known? Respected? Have a reputation for superior craftsmanship and durability? Been in business for a long time? Regarded as honest and fair? Do they have an expert staff fully capable of and willing to patiently answer all of your questions and concerns, and work with you to find the best violin suited to you, and one that makes you happy? Are they known for being honest? Look for a shop that provides information and guidance without pressure, and sales representatives who are willing to listen to your needs and the preferences of your teacher. Do they want your long-term business?

B. Selection: A good dealer will offer a selection of instruments by different makers and understand the national and international markets. Ideally, find a shop that sells both to students and professionals.

C. Trial Policy: Most reputable establishments will let you audition more expensive instrument for 1-2 weeks. This trial time is essential in making the right choice!

D. Stated Trade-in Policy or Warranty: Ask about the trade-in policy (or warranty) of the shop. If in the future your child needs a better quality instrument or a larger size, what value will your present purchase be given in a trade situation? Also try to determine what selection the shop has available in the range or size that might be the next step-up if trading is important to you. if the seller offers 100% trade in value. In that way the seller will have an interest in the upkeep of your instrument and will keep you advised of whatever is necessary to maintain its value.

E. Build A Long-term Relationship: Try to find someone who is interested in building a long-term relationship with you, someone you can trust and work with throughout the course of the student’s musical education and career.

F. Good Repair Shop: Are they professionally trained and well-known for their skill and workmanship in proper set-up and service of instruments, sound adjustments, and quality maintenance for both your violin and bow? Fine stringed instruments are designed to last for hundreds of years; during that time you will need a repairperson to make certain your instrument is healthy and sounding its best. It is in your best interest if the seller provides this service, especially if they are the ones offering a trade in policy. They also would know the instrument and its history best.

Fixing violins is an art and requires great skill. I can personally recommend a great violin repairperson should you need expert help.

4. Test Drive…Test Drive…Test Drive

Play on a wide variety of violins and bows. This will help you determine what you like and don’t like, and help you to better determine your price range.

Once you find a violin you love, ask if you can have it on trial for a period of time to ensure it’s not an impulse buy, and that it stands up to your standards over a period of time, situations and demands.

Play in a variety of locations (store, home, theatres, concert hall, school) to hear how it projects, play a variety of styles (legato, staccato, chords, pianissimo, fortissimo etc) to hear how it responds, and play for a variety of people (teachers, colleagues, other students or violinists, family) to hear a wide range of reactions. Also allow these same people to eyeball and play it so they can give you first-hand feedback and advice. The more eyes and ears and players and opinions, the better!

5. Communication

Learn to communicate what you hear (or don’t hear!) to the professionals so they can determine whether changes can be made to that particular instrument, or to assist them in finding one that can produce the unique quality of sound you’re looking for. Sound will be affected by a change in strings or bridge and a sound post adjustment. If you like certain things about an instrument or bow, but not others, talk about this with whomever is helping you. It will help you get what you want in the most efficient way as many violins can be adjusted to better – or perfectly – suit your personal tastes.

6. Purchase Good Value

When everything else has been settled, make sure you’re getting a lot of violin for the price. Buy a fine violin from someone who has something at stake in being honest and providing good value, such as a good reputation in the community, or a business relationship with your teacher. In most instances, since there is no Blue Book or Consumer’s Report for violins, the buyer is quite dependent on the seller’s expertise and perspective on the market place to price instruments and bows accordingly – this is another important reason to consult you teacher before any purchase. With that in mind, value of fine instruments can be said to be based largely on the following:

A. Origin: Who made the instrument? Is it a master instrument, a master shop instrument, trade name instrument, amateur instrument? When was it made? Where was it made?

B. Quality of Craftsmanship: quality of materials, artistry and craftsmanship

C. Condition & Proper functioning: no open cracks or seams, cracks repaired neatly and securely, conformity of basic critical measurements, angle of fingerboard, neck length, exactness of proportions, smooth turning pegs, proper arching, position and length of fingerboard, proper string spacing, proper length and position of sound post, proper height, contour, fitting and position of bridge etc.

D. Sound: quality of tone, projects easily, warm and consistent, ringing, expressive, and suited to your personal needs, preferences, and playing environment.

E. Re-sale value: Condition of instrument or bow, ease in terms of ability to trade or resell, or to increase future options for “trading-up”.

7. Remembering The Bow & Case

A quality bow makes a big difference in the way a stringed instrument sounds and responds. Once you’ve decided on an instrument, begin a similar search for a bow that best meets the above requirements and accentuates and responds to the qualities of the violin you’ve chosen. A good bow is strong, flexible, responsive, carefully crafted of superior materials, and carries a long-term warranty. Please consult with me for additional information.

The value of your new instrument and bow is only as secure as the case. Determine how much risk you need to guard against and choose carefully. Be sure to ask about the quality of materials and craftsmanship, suspension features and warranties.

April 23rd, 2010

Theory

1 – Note Names

2 – Key Signatures

3 – Scales – Identify

4 – Scales – Construct

5- Scales – Ear Training

6- Sight Reading

7 – Theory Practice

8 – Intervals – Identify

9 – Intervals – Construct

10 – Intervals – Ear Training

11 – Chords – Construct

12 – Chords – Ear Training

13 – Rhythm – Time Signature

14 – Rhythm – Dictation

15 – Rhythm – Practice

April 23rd, 2010

Maximizing Master Class

groupMaster Class is to be taken as seriously as private lessons. It is an invaluable part of a violinist’s growth process. You get practice performing, feedback from other students, and watching other performers will motivate you. It’s the perfect setting to improve your performance quality.

1. Attendance and being on time is important because others are relying on your presence to get the most out of the group experience (and coming late can be disruptive).

2. Have a cheerful and professional attitude; your demeanor affects the mood of the group as a whole. Smiling helps you relax as well as assuring the rest of the class that it is a safe place to perform, unleash, express, excel, or make mistakes, and learn.

3. Pay attention, participate, co-operate, be respectful, and follow instructions. Individual disruptions interfere with the groups’ opportunity to learn in an efficient and enjoyable atmosphere.

4. Have your performance piece well-prepared to help make the performing experience enjoyable. This will also help you see weak areas and where you need to place your time and attention.

5. Watch and listen closely and constructively to each performance for things you like or appreciate, as well as areas that could be improved. Your fellow students are relying on you to offer helpful feedback and suggestions, in a kind and encouraging way, so that they can gain more insight into their playing and improve their skills/piece. Giving your best effort shows you care, and conveys tremendous support.

April 23rd, 2010

Maximizing Lesson Time

happy girlFollowing these few suggestions will pay immediate and long-term dividends and maxmize your lesson time.

1. Come to lessons with a good week of practice (6 days) behind you! This helps you discover where you need help, and lets me give you the help you need to steadily progress into new levels of ability.

2. Carefully chart your practice days/time for the week. This gives me an accurate sense of your progression and allows me to determine how to best tailor your practice instruction.

3. Be ready on time. If you’re late, we still finish at the end of your scheduled time. Being on time also helps you to relax and be in a good frame of mind.

4. Have your violin tuned and all music and materials ready to go (e.g., pencil, metronome, music stand).

5. Be fully engaged in the lesson: Be co-operative, ask questions, and have a pleasant attitude – you’ll learn faster AND happier!

6. Focus and pay close attention. Precisely follow all directions.

7. This is your top priority: Make sure you clearly understand your practice assignments and weekly “focus,” and the proper way to execute the drills. Stop me and ask if you need clarification. Email me if you need help; don’t waste a week not knowing what something means.

April 23rd, 2010

Violin Purchase Guide

Purchase GuidePurchasing a violin is often a significant expenditure, a long-term investment, and determines the quality of instrument you’ll be playing on for years to come. For these reasons it’s important to invest enough time to get it right. These tips are meant only as a guide, not as a fully comprehensive purchase manual. Please take your time, ask a lot of questions, test drive the violin, and use your best judgment.

1. Involve Your Teacher

Teachers are great resources because they have a wealth of knowledge and experience assisting many different students in their purchases with various dealers and makers. They can also help you determine the appropriate violin range based on their intimate familiarity of level, progress, motivation, commitment, and future goals. When you are trying out an instrument, bring it to your teacher so they can help look for more subtle distinctions in quality and value.

2. Determine Appropriate Instrument

A. Personal Requirements: What does the range of your playing include: solos, orchestra, chamber music, personal enjoyment and expression? Will you be pursuing music academically or as a career? What is your level of playing ability, progress, motivation, commitment, and future goals? What is the proper size?

Sometimes a poorer instrument may be holding a student back, cause frustration, lack of motivation and even injury. A good instrument can accelerate progress, increase motivation, increase technical skills and musical expressiveness by allowing a student to play on a better sounding, more responsive instrument.

B. Personal Taste: Each player has their personal preferences suited to their tastes and individual ear, personality and expressiveness. Some may prefer a brighter sound, while others a richer, warmer tone. This may change as you play a wider variety of violins, but before heading to a dealer have an initial idea as to what you feel best suits your tastes.

C. Establishing Price Range: Pre-determine your price range and have it in mind when you call to make an appointment to see instruments. That way the shop you are dealing with can ready instruments in that range for you to consider. If you don’t want to spend more than a certain dollar amount make sure to communicate this to the seller. For the education of your ear or for your curiosity, you may want to ask to hear instruments in the next range up or down.

Once you’ve established both need, taste and price range, you can then embark on finding the best possible instrument that meets your requirements, and gives you good value for your investment. This can best be accomplished through a bit of research.

D. Research: Discover the key qualities you’re seeking in a violin for the price range you’ve selected. These can include: craftsmanship, present condition, response, expressiveness, projection, ringing tone color and sound quality, durability, re-sale value etc.

Educate yourself on the differences between lower, medium and higher quality violins. Learn how a better violin can enable you to develop your sound. Also research makers and sellers/shops (see below). Once you start test driving violins, part of your research will be in seeking the opinions of a variety of people.

3. Finding The Right Seller/Maker/Shop:

A. Reputation: Are they well-known? Respected? Have a reputation for superior craftsmanship and durability? Been in business for a long time? Regarded as honest and fair? Do they have an expert staff fully capable of and willing to patiently answer all of your questions and concerns, and work with you to find the best violin suited to you, and one that makes you happy? Are they known for being honest? Look for a shop that provides information and guidance without pressure, and sales representatives who are willing to listen to your needs and the preferences of your teacher. Do they want your long-term business?

B. Selection: A good dealer will offer a selection of instruments by different makers and understand the national and international markets. Ideally, find a shop that sells both to students and professionals.

C. Trial Policy: Most reputable establishments will let you audition more expensive instrument for 1-2 weeks. This trial time is essential in making the right choice!

D. Stated Trade-in Policy or Warranty: Ask about the trade-in policy (or warranty) of the shop. If in the future your child needs a better quality instrument or a larger size, what value will your present purchase be given in a trade situation? Also try to determine what selection the shop has available in the range or size that might be the next step-up if trading is important to you. if the seller offers 100% trade in value. In that way the seller will have an interest in the upkeep of your instrument and will keep you advised of whatever is necessary to maintain its value.

E. Build A Long-term Relationship: Try to find someone who is interested in building a long-term relationship with you, someone you can trust and work with throughout the course of the student’s musical education and career.

F. Good Repair Shop: Are they professionally trained and well-known for their skill and workmanship in proper set-up and service of instruments, sound adjustments, and quality maintenance for both your violin and bow? Fine stringed instruments are designed to last for hundreds of years; during that time you will need a repairperson to make certain your instrument is healthy and sounding its best. It is in your best interest if the seller provides this service, especially if they are the ones offering a trade in policy. They also would know the instrument and its history best.

Fixing violins is an art and requires great skill. I can personally recommend a great violin repairperson should you need expert help.

4. Test Drive…Test Drive…Test Drive

Play on a wide variety of violins and bows. This will help you determine what you like and don’t like, and help you to better determine your price range.

Once you find a violin you love, ask if you can have it on trial for a period of time to ensure it’s not an impulse buy, and that it stands up to your standards over a period of time, situations and demands.

Play in a variety of locations (store, home, theatres, concert hall, school) to hear how it projects, play a variety of styles (legato, staccato, chords, pianissimo, fortissimo etc) to hear how it responds, and play for a variety of people (teachers, colleagues, other students or violinists, family) to hear a wide range of reactions. Also allow these same people to eyeball and play it so they can give you first-hand feedback and advice. The more eyes and ears and players and opinions, the better!

5. Communication

Learn to communicate what you hear (or don’t hear!) to the professionals so they can determine whether changes can be made to that particular instrument, or to assist them in finding one that can produce the unique quality of sound you’re looking for. Sound will be affected by a change in strings or bridge and a sound post adjustment. If you like certain things about an instrument or bow, but not others, talk about this with whomever is helping you. It will help you get what you want in the most efficient way as many violins can be adjusted to better – or perfectly – suit your personal tastes.

6. Purchase Good Value

When everything else has been settled, make sure you’re getting a lot of violin for the price. Buy a fine violin from someone who has something at stake in being honest and providing good value, such as a good reputation in the community, or a business relationship with your teacher. In most instances, since there is no Blue Book or Consumer’s Report for violins, the buyer is quite dependent on the seller’s expertise and perspective on the market place to price instruments and bows accordingly – this is another important reason to consult you teacher before any purchase. With that in mind, value of fine instruments can be said to be based largely on the following:

A. Origin: Who made the instrument? Is it a master instrument, a master shop instrument, trade name instrument, amateur instrument? When was it made? Where was it made?

B. Quality of Craftsmanship: quality of materials, artistry and craftsmanship

C. Condition & Proper functioning: no open cracks or seams, cracks repaired neatly and securely, conformity of basic critical measurements, angle of fingerboard, neck length, exactness of proportions, smooth turning pegs, proper arching, position and length of fingerboard, proper string spacing, proper length and position of sound post, proper height, contour, fitting and position of bridge etc.

D. Sound: quality of tone, projects easily, warm and consistent, ringing, expressive, and suited to your personal needs, preferences, and playing environment.

E. Re-sale value: Condition of instrument or bow, ease in terms of ability to trade or resell, or to increase future options for “trading-up”.

7. Remembering The Bow & Case

A quality bow makes a big difference in the way a stringed instrument sounds and responds. Once you’ve decided on an instrument, begin a similar search for a bow that best meets the above requirements and accentuates and responds to the qualities of the violin you’ve chosen. A good bow is strong, flexible, responsive, carefully crafted of superior materials, and carries a long-term warranty. Please consult with me for additional information.

The value of your new instrument and bow is only as secure as the case. Determine how much risk you need to guard against and choose carefully. Be sure to ask about the quality of materials and craftsmanship, suspension features and warranties.

April 23rd, 2010

Violin Care

Violin CareThis quick guide is intended to help you better understand and care for your violin, and to recognize when it needs to be professionally serviced. Proper care and prevention is essential to prolong the life and quality of sound of your instrument.

*Remember: Most questions should be referred to a qualified luthier. This is meant only as an informative guide and not as a repair manual. If you have any questions or problems with your violin, bring it to me and I will help will help you decide if it needs professional help. Never attempt any home repairs on your violin or bow as one mistake can destroy the value of your instrument.

1. Cleaning Your Violin

Quick Guide: use a dry natural-fiber cloth for cleaning, use only violin-specific cleaners/polishes

After each use, gently wipe (don't rub!) rosin dust, dirt and moisture off the body, strings and fingerboard using a soft, dry, lint-free, natural-fiber cloth. (Launder frequently to remove dirt and rosin.) Rosin left on the strings will hinder their vibration, and affect the resonance and clarity of tone by preventing the bow from grabbing the string properly. Left on the instrument body, rosin can scratch or eat away at the finish causing your violin to depreciate. The varnish is an important part of protecting your violin, and the sound it produces.

There are many violin-specific cleaners and polishes on the market. (Do not use commercial cleaners, furniture polish, solvent, alcohol, or oils, to wash your instrument! Do not polish more than once every couple of years, as it can cause unsightly build up. Polishing only serves an aesthetic purpose, and will not enhance the sound of your violin. Instead, use your breath and a soft cloth to help bring out its natural lustre. If you do choose to use polish, do not get any on the strings or bow, as this will cause your violin to play improperly. Do not use hot water to clean your instrument.)

2. Strings

Quick Guide: student players replace every 6-10 months, use graphite pencil on nut and bridge grooves, clean frequently

Most strings with regular use (1/2 hour to an hour a day) should be replaced every six to ten months (some sooner, some later), as they lose their brilliance and responsiveness. (It mostly depends on the string and how often you play.) The biggest criterion is: do you feel the strings should be replaced? If the answer is 'yes', then replace them. When doing so, only change one string at a time. Removing all of the strings at once will lose the proper placement of the bridge, and the lack of tension may cause the sound post to fall down. Lubricating the grooves on the nut and bridge with a graphite pencil will help the strings slid more easily, reduce the chance of string breakage, and extend the life of the strings. It also helps the bridge remain in the proper position when tuning.

Occasionally inspect the strings to see if they are in good shape where they contact the bridge. If the winding has been separated, the string can dig into the bridge and should be replaced. Also, if a string is pinched against the side of the peg box the friction can break the string and possibly crack the peg box. It’s also possible for strings to become squeezed between the peg and the bottom of the peg box; this can cause the string to break, damage the peg, or damage the hole in the peg box.

New strings will stretch and need frequent re-tuning for about a week. (They will go flat as they stretch out.) When tuning your instrument, try not to go above the correct pitch of the string, as this will stress the string, making it break sooner.

The top nut is the ebony piece at the very top of the fingerboard over which the strings go into the peg box. The only real maintenance here is to lubricate the string grooves with a bit of graphite from a pencil lead. You must also keep an eye on whether the string has worn the groove down too low and onto the fingerboard. If this is the case, the string will start to buzz or be difficult to play.

Strings come in a great variety! Many violinists like the sound of Dominant strings for their resonance and richness. Other favorites include Infeld Blue, Evah Pirazzi, Tonica, Infeld Red, Pro Arte, and Zyex. The perlon (or Kevlar) core strings tend to have a smoother sound and last quite well. Each violin has its own tonal qualities and as such each responds best to different strings, so experimentation and experience will help you choose your best string.

Remember to wipe the rosin from the strings frequently.

3. Bows

Quick Guide: loosen hair after playing, don't use tip of bow to tap objects, replace hair once a year

When not in use, the hair of the bow should be loosened until it is touches the stick; otherwise the hairs, over a period of time, will stretch and not play properly. More importantly, it removes the tension from the bow and prevents the stick from warping. If this is not done, the stick will straighten, making it impossible to tighten the bow properly, and the metal ferrule holding the hair may break as you attempt to tension it more. If the bow has been left tensioned long enough that the stick appears to have lost its natural arch, loosen the adjuster and leave it for a day or two. The stick may then resume its natural shape.

While playing, do not over-tighten the hair. It should only be tight enough so that it is approximately the width of a pencil.

When applying rosin (round rosin is best), rotating it will make it last longer and not become grooved. Approximately 12 times up and down the length of the bow hair is sufficient. (If the bow is new, it will need to be rubbed thoroughly with rosin before it is used. Rosin provides the essential friction required to make the strings vibrate.) If a lot of white dust can be seen on the instrument after playing, you're probably using too much rosin. If you notice rosin dust accumulating on your bow stick, wipe it off with a soft cloth.

Avoid touching the horsehair with your fingers. The oil of your hands can create a slick spot on the hair, preventing it from holding rosin, and thus deplete the ability of the horsehair to catch or grab the strings and produce good tone.

Be careful not to tap the tip of your bow against anything solid (even gently). This very delicate part of the bow breaks easily and is very difficult to repair. If any parts of the bow should fall off (such as the ivory button or slide), hang on to them and take the bow for immediate repair: these can be quite expensive to replace.

The quality of your bow is important to the quality of sound you elicit from your instrument. Bows should be kept clean (done at the time of a re-hair), and the hair should be replaced regularly (once a year is plenty for a student violinist). A good indication of the need for a re-hair: missing hairs, the hair becomes very dark or greasy, doesn't bite like it used to, needs more and more rosin to make the hair grip the strings, the hair starts to break frequently, or when the hair, at its loosest, hangs well below the stick. (As it gets older, the hair stretches and may become too long to tighten properly. When this occurs, attempting to tighten the bow can seriously damage the stick.) When a single hair breaks, use scissors to cut it from the bow. Pulling the hair will slowly loosen the knots that hold the hair in the tip and frog.

After a bow has been freshly rehaired, you may feel the bow has lost some of its sound quality (more noise, sandy sound, rougher feel). There is no need to return the bow for different hair. It simply needs a week or two of playing. The hair has an uneven, 'scaled' surface that holds the rosin in place, and until the rosin is worked in, the bow can sound sandy. Eventually, through usage, these natural scales are worn off, leaving a smooth surface on each hair follicle. When this occurs, the bow will need to be re-haired.

It is important not to force a bow you are having trouble tightening or loosening; take it to a repair shop before further damage occurs. Ignoring a bow in this condition can lead to damage of the inner workings, specifically the eyelet, and may cause cracks in the butt of the bowstick.

Occasionally, the eyelet screw will strip and must be replaced. The eyelet connects the end screw and the frog. You will notice that it's stripped when you are no longer able to tighten the hair and it is possible to pull the screw out.

If all of the hair pops out of your bow at once, don't panic. The bow is not ruined, it has merely lost the 'wedge' holding in the hair, and can be fixed easily by a professional.

Other things that occasionally need replacement are the grip and the winding. The winding is made of steel wire, silver wire, whalebone, leather, or plastic. It adds aesthetic and functional value to the stick, however it sometimes un-winds. The grip is made of leather or lizard skin and allows a comfortable positioning of the hand.

4. Seasonal Care

Quick Guide: keep at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, in moderately humid (50 – 60%) conditions

Changes in temperature and humidity cause instruments and bow hair to expand and contract (or sometimes develop mold), both of which can lead to open seams (most likely to occur in high humidity) or cracks in the long-term, and an un-focused sound in the short-term. Always try to keep your instrument at room temperature whenever possible, and in an air-conditioned room in the extreme heat of a St. George summer.

If a problem does occur, the glue holding the instrument together is water-soluble, therefore allowing the seams to (hopefully) open rather than forcing the instrument to develop a crack(s) (which are most likely to occur in low humidity), which are more difficult to repair. If your violin does develop a seam or crack, loosen the strings and have it repaired immediately to prevent it from spreading further (never try and glue it yourself!). Do not touch the crack as the natural oils in your skin will contaminate the wood and lessen the bonding capacity of the glue, making it more difficult to make an invisible repair. Re-gluing seams is a fairly simple procedure that involves washing the old glue out and running a bead of new glue in and clamping it, and should always be done by a professional.

Weather-related places to avoid leaving your violin: in the car (the varnish might bubble; glue dissolves in heat, leaving your instrument vulnerable to open seams; your rosin might melt and ruin your case), in direct sunlight, near a window, beside a heat or AC vent, in rooms that have marked changes in temperature or humidity.

5. General Care

Quick Guide: keep only in safe place, off floor and chairs, and in a suitable (and closed) case

Most violins that are broken or damaged are done so accidentally. Some common things to avoid are: leaving your violin or bow on a chair, on the floor, hanging from a music stand, in an open case (especially with the shoulder rest still on), within the reach of young children, or any other precarious position. Jewelry, watches, bracelets, dangling earrings, jacket or shirt buttons, and zippers often cause unforeseen scratches, dings and dents.

If you use a shoulder rest, take it off before returning your violin to its case. The shoulder rest can get jammed down if the case is forced closed, and create a crack in your violin. Also be alert if the rubber tubing on the metal feet of your shoulder rest is deteriorating, so that they don't scratch off the varnish. The rubber tubing itself is an abrasive and can eventually rub off varnish and leave a scar on the wood if you repeatedly slide it along the edge of the violin when you're removing or (re-) positioning the shoulder rest.

If you are the owner of a valuable or irreplaceable instrument, be sure to invest in an appropriate case. A suspension case will elevate your instrument away from the shell of the case, and will hold it firmly by means of a neck restraint and cushioned pads at the upper and lower blocks.

6. Bridge

Quick Guide: regulates sound, watch for tilting, do not move unless necessary, use graphite in grooves

The bridge is one the most important parts of the set-up of the violin. It regulates the sound of the violin by setting the height and relationship of the strings to the instrument, and is held in place only by the tension of the strings.

A well-cut bridge should give a string height higher on the 'G' side than the 'E' side. The feet should fit the contour of the top of the violin so that the bridge stands perfectly upright, and the feet perfectly flat. If the bridge becomes tilted in either direction, the violin will lose sound, and the bridge might warp, fall over, or crack. Check the bridge for warping by viewing it from the side. The bridge should be centrally aligned between the inside notches of the f-holes, and at a 90-degree angle (at the back – i.e. the side facing the tailpiece) to the plane of the instrument. If the bridge curls forward it may be time to have it either flattened or replaced. If needed, adjustment should only be attempted with care and confidence but is important as this will improve the sound and help prevent warping. (I can show you how; otherwise I recommend you get a personal demonstration by a violinmaker on how to straighten the bridge.) The feet can be brought back down by bracing the violin against the chest with the scroll pointed down and using your fingers (thumb and forefinger) to gently pull the bridge back into position.

Note: The bridge will sometimes be pulled slightly forward by the action of tuning, and, ideally, should be examined each time you tune your violin.

A little graphite from a pencil lead rubbed in the string grooves of the bridge will help the strings pass over the bridge a little a more smoothly. This should be done perhaps once a month, or when the strings are changed.

To protect the bridge from the 'E' or 'A' string slowly cutting into the wood of the top, a small, thin piece of leather or parchment is usually glued into place over the string groove. If your bridge doesn't have one, use the small sleeve provided with most new 'E' and 'A' strings.

Bridges are made to fit in one place, and moving the bridge from its original placement is not recommended. Have it routinely examined by an expert, especially whenever the strings are replaced.

If your bridge breaks or falls, remove the strings and tailpiece, bridge and tailpiece from the instrument. This prevents the tailpiece from scratching the top. Bring the instrument to a violinmaker for repair.

7. Sound Post

Quick Guide: essential to sound quality, located inside violin, can be disturbed if violin dropped/banged

Known in some cultures as the 'soul' or 'spirit' of the violin, the sound post is located on the inside of the violin, and its relative position to the bridge – acting as a support for the top, and a nodal point which directs the patterns of vibration and hence the sound – is essential to, and can dramatically affect, the tone of the instrument.

The ends of the post are beveled to fit the inside curve of the violin. The post must fit in length so as not to be too tight or too loose, and the fit should be snug and clean. Since it is not glued into position, it can move – especially with hard knocks or climate changes (The tops and backs of the instrument expand and contract with changes in humidity. Because these pieces are glued onto the sides all around, the height of the arching changes slightly. This can cause the sound post to be either too tight or too loose, resulting in sound quality variation.)

If you notice a change in the sound quality of your violin over a period of time (i.e. from a full, rich tone, to a shallow, dry, harsh or gritty tone), it may be that your sound post needs to be adjusted. If you hear something rattling around on the inside of your violin, it's possible that your sound post has fallen down. (If this happens, loosen all your strings and immediately have it serviced.) This can occur if you drop it or bang it into something, or if you take all your strings off (at the same time) when replacing them. It will only take a few moments to set it back up, but this is very much a job for a professional. It's a good idea to be present when it is being fixed, so that you can play your violin and work with a skilled luthier to create the exact sound you prefer.

8. Pegs

Quick Guide: responsible for tightening strings: can stick or slip due to humidity, temperature, improper winding

Pegs are often prone to slipping or sticking due to changes in humidity and temperature, or because they are improperly wound.

With pegs that slip, a simple cleaning is recommended. Simply unwind the string and wipe the peg with fine steel wool and replace. Additional cleaning inside the peg hole may be necessary. Remove the peg and very carefully scrape the build-up on the inside of the hole with a penknife, and take it in for refitting as soon as possible. Never force a peg into the hole when the peg is slipping as this may crack the peg box. With pegs that stick, try a little dry Ivory soap on the peg where it touches the peg-box (never force it to turn). Peg dope is the best bet to help sticky pegs turn a little easier, but use it sparingly as it can build up and cause the pegs to slip.

Occasionally pegs fit poorly, and it is recommended they be replaced. Pegs that don't fit can slip, have a "bump" in them while turning, or stick out on the other side of the peg-box. If pegs stick out too much, or if there is a crack in the peg-box, a bushing may be required, which should be done by a qualified repairperson.

Occasionally check any fine tuners to make sure they are not wound too tight. If they are, loosen them and retune with the pegs. It is possible for tuners to get stuck; in some cases the tension can cause a string to break.

9. Buzzes

Quick Guide: check variety of items for looseness or contact, also for cracks and seams

Buzzes on instruments have many possible causes. Here is a checklist of what to look for:

1. Is there any jewelry or buttons touching the instrument?

2. Is your mute loose?

3. Is the chinrest secure?

4. Are the strings wound properly around the pegs?

5. Are the strings old?

6. Is there a loose winding on the string?

7. Do the strings travel over the bridge and top nut without obstruction?

8. Is there anything touching the top, such as a part of the tailpiece?

9. If you use fine tuners, are they all properly tightened down to the tailpiece?

10. Are there any open seams between the ribs and the top or back?

11. Is there contact between the tailpiece and the chinrest, or top?

12. Are there any cracks developing on the top?

13. Are the top-nut grooves worn down too low, onto the fingerboard?

April 23rd, 2010

Structuring Practice

time to practiceThere are well-established, proven paths to violin advancement. Each week the guidance and practice assignments I give you are deliberately chosen to help you take the next step on that path. Remember, the curriculum I have developed will help you get there as efficiently and quickly as possible. If you trust me and follow this path dilligently and patiently, a step at a time, you will achieve the same results as the people who have taken the same path before you (this includes me, my teachers, and any violinist you may admire and aspire to be!).

Don’t waste your time or frustrate yourself! More advancement can be made in 15 minutes of good practice than in an hour of shabby practice. I’ve constructed my practice chart to help provide a very easy-to-follow, step-by-step framework for a typical practice session. Here is a brief explanation of each section, and its intention.

1. FOCUS – Each week I will emphasize a particular element in your skillset that needs extra attention in order to achieve the next level of playing. This will be detailed in the “Focus” box and should be foremost in your mind during every step of the practice chart. Challenge yourself to make these fundamental changes permanent habits, and you will see palpable and significant improvements in your abilities.

2. TECHNIQUE – Scales and Arpeggios are two basic components of mastering the violin that we will address at nearly every lesson. I will tailor the execution of these to fit your level and will give you detailed instructions on how to practice them that must be undertaken with focus, precision, and discipline. There are two blank boxes beneath these that I will fill with additional technical exercises for your advancement. Whatever technique assignments I give you I prefer quality practice over quantity. What is crucial here is not the amount of time, but the amount of focus.

3. ETUDE – This category is level-dependent and will be handled differently from student to student, ranging from developing note-reading and rhythm skills, to vibrato, shifting, and complicated bow strokes — whatever you most need help with. Careful practice of an etude is important as they are chosen to shore up whatever skills are lagging behind the rest. (Whichever skill is weakest, will drag the rest down.)

4. PIECES – Play through each assigned piece slowly with the metronome (more than once, if possible). Play carefully, with much attention to detail and musicality. Identify problematic sections, then zero in on them, normally 2-4 measures at a time, to dramatically improve them. Drilling these bite-size pieces will usually employ methods like “The Breakdown” mentioned on the practice chart, metronome practice at slow-medium-fast tempi, rhythmic distortions for accuracy and agility, the “trill drill,” “elbow bow,” and the use of “Intonia.” During the course of our time spent together, we will discuss and explore many different ways to help you make these dramatic improvements. Drilling small sections like this has a contagious effect that will automatically help the rest of your piece.

It is important to consider that only one hour a week is spent at the lesson, while the vast majority of your time on the violin will be spent practicing at home. With this in mind, the purpose of your weekly lesson is revealed: Your lesson is meant to teach you how to practice at home. It is this time at home, closely following the practice program I outline for you, that will determine how much progress you will make, so please make sure you understand all instructions before leaving, and follow them faithfully at home. I don’t mind questions, or repeating instructions, so please ask!

The progress you make is up to you! Cheerful students who follow the directions eagerly will generally make much quicker, and more painless, progress.

April 23rd, 2010

Posture Checklist

Posture ChecklistA masterful violin posture is the single most important component of learning how to elicit a rich, full sound from your violin, and allow you to perform at the highest levels.

If you experience pain while playing it is most likely related to muscle tension; either you have proper posture and are unconsciously tightening muscles, or your posture is improper which in itself forces your muscles to tighten to compensate for the lack of correct physiology.

When either occurs, stop and review the steps below before playing again.

1. Are you completely relaxed? Gentle stretching and “rag dolls” are an excellent way to prepare for a practice session, lesson, or performance. Make slow, deep breathing a priority for all practice sessions.

2. Is your bow hold correct? Your right hand should be relaxed and rounded, with all fingers hanging over the stick (except for the pinky which is lightly curved with the very tip touching the bow), ring finger on the dot. The index finger leans against the stick between the two finger knuckles. Thumb is bent, with tip gently biting into the stick to provide control and strength. Wrist should be relaxed and very soft.

3. Stand up straight with feet shoulders-width apart, knees slightly bent, legs and trunk relaxed and balanced wherein your weight is evenly distributed and can shift easily. Make sure your torso is not twisted or turned.

4. Is the violin placed correctly? Put it on your “shelf” (violin rests on the collar bone – no shoulder involved!!), tuck in comfortably, and let the weight of your head hold it easily in place. Don’t squeeze or use tension in shoulders or neck or chin to support violin (left hand helps support lightly).

5. After the violin is in place, bring the left hand up and place fingers lightly on the fingerboard keeping the thumb soft and below (or just peeking over) the fingerboard level – don’t grab. Look in the mirror to be sure your left wrist is relaxed and soft (flopping slightly open).

6. Once you are ready to begin moving the bow, play some detache strokes on open strings and use a mirror to determine if your bow path is correct (bow pulls towards the bridge, slight “oval bow”), and your bow hand flexible.

7. Consciously keep every muscle in your body relaxed, fluid, and soft, while continuing to breathe slowly and deeply.

April 23rd, 2010

Performance Preparation

performance preparationWhy do we study music? Why do we perform? These are important questions to ask ourselves so we never lose sight of what’s truly important in life and all that we do.

If we seek to aggrandize ourselves through music, we’re mistaking the essence of creativity and expression. The soul of art is found in the experience of joining and sharing, and we can only ever truly share what’s worth sharing when we are humble.

Before you perform remind yourself you are sharing your love of music, and the love inside of you in general, with whomever is present.

When you perform you are sharing your experience of the music. What the music means to you. Since we’re all essentially the same beneath our various external appearances, authentically sharing your experience will touch something meaningful in those who are listening.

And whether people are listening closely or not at all, here is the key to every moment on stage or off:

Express to yourself your love of the loving melos, the inner melody of love.

What could be more beautiful or fulfilling or loving to yourself and everyone present?

Remember, we do not study music to become perfect performers, but to share the perfection of love. And this is possible no matter how many mistakes we might make. So let the inner melos be your focus, not a perfect performance. Let love do the work. Let love be itself.

With the above in mind, here are some practical reminders to help with the mechanics of performing.

1. Is your piece thoroughly prepared? This will aid your confidence greatly. Try it out first on your parents, best friend, baby brother, cat, grandmother – anyone who will listen – as often as possible. Pre-performing for others is the best way to reveal any weak spots that need further work (and to help you practice expressing to yourself your love of the loving melos).

2. Practice saying your introduction (name, title of piece, correct pronounciation of the composer & accompanist) and getting smoothly from rest to play position, to your ‘beginning breath’. A pre-performance routine will make the performance more automatic when the time comes, allowing you to lose yourself in the music as much as possible.

3. Learn what helps you to relax. Each time you perform notice the thoughts that trip you up and the ones that help you relax. When you have a thought that trips you up practice allowing it to be there without fighting it, judging it, or pushing it away. Just let the thought be there without any judgment whatsoever and it will eventually lose its seeming power.

4. When you make a mistake – this is inevitable, so make peace with it beforehand – know that it’s a normal part of performing. Don’t make a face and don’t lose confidence; accept it in stride and go forward with the idea that you will be calm if you make a mistake or don’t make a mistake. They really don’t matter at all. What matters is being kind to yourself and having a peaceful experience no matter what happens.

5. Have ‘safety ramps’ – a spot every couple of lines that you know well and can start from should you get lost. (Where you can call up the beginning note and immediately know how the piece proceeds from there.) Shadow practicing will greatly assist you in mastering this ability.

6. Listen to and enjoy the music you are making. Find the soul of your piece, and let its theme, mood and emotion completely envelop your heart and mind so that you play it with abandon, wholly absorbed in the authentic and heartfelt expression of the music you’ve chosen to share, and your personal interpretation and experience of it.

And, in the end, all that matters is the melos, and that is always there with you no matter the outcome.

April 23rd, 2010

Parental Role at Lessons

taking notesTo help ensure we get the most out of our weekly time together, here are a few suggestions to encourage the most effective and enjoyable lesson possible:

1. Please ensure your child is on time with violin tuned, practice chart filled out, and with all music and materials. (This includes promptly purchasing books/music, making copies etc.)

2. Should the parent be present during the lesson? Most definitely for children under 8, and older than that, as needed. I will give detailed practice instructions that most students can easily follow by themselves, but every child and situation is different. At a certain point I find it is more productive for the parent to not attend lessons, as this helps the student feel more independent, and makes learning violin their own project. By this time, it is generally better for the student to be completely alone in a quiet room for the best sense of focus and attention.

3. If present, actively and quietly observe the lesson, and take notes if desired. It is important to leave your child completely in my hands for the duration of the lesson. It is distracting for students to take direction and input from two sources during lesson-time, so please hold all advice until the lesson is over.

4. If present, please do your best to not show disapproval or displeasure so that we can foster a safe learning atmosphere. It’s not easy to learn an instrument, and there will be many missteps along the way.  Smiling and other non-verbal cues offer much needed encouragement and support.

5. Please ensure all siblings, blaring TVs, frolicking dogs etc., are in another room.

April 23rd, 2010

Parental Role with Practice

Parental Role 1Certainly the most advantageous teaching situation is one wherein the teacher, student and parent work in concert. I’ve had several inquiries from parents on what they can do at home to best help their child progress in their lessons, and I want to help more clearly define the role of the parent with these general suggestions.

1. Help find the best time of day for practice, and encourage consistency.

2. Be interested and involved in your student’s practice routine and process, as well as their inner experience.

3. Ensure they are following what is outlined in the practice chart – especially the weekly FOCUS – and that they keep careful track of their practice by marking their chart daily.

4. Ensure they are using a timer, metronome, and are practicing slowly and carefully, making the most out of their practice time.

5. Help your student enjoy making music by praising what they are doing well and offering enthusiasm and encouragement.

When Practice is Difficult:

1. Offer Praise Not Pressure – keep practice-time light by being supporting and loving even when they are accomplishing small feats. Tell them how much you enjoy listening.

2. Ask Them For Their Input – do they need/want more help from you, or less? Let it be the student’s project, but let them know you’re always on their side.

3. Find New Motivation – take your student to a live classical performance, listen to inspiring music from great artists, encourage them to read about inspiring musicians, suggest they play music with a friend.

4. Create Practice Incentives – sometimes practice incentives or rewards, especially for small children, can get them back on track or over a hump.

5. Set a Goal – provides focus & direction, and accomplishment & reward in the present (rather than some future date) as they make even slight gains. Create smaller goals within a larger goal until momentum is regained.

6. Find Best Time/Place – if your student is having trouble focusing, try two shorter practice periods, or a different time of day. Find a quiet room, or a different setting, away from interruptions, siblings, radio, tv, phones etc.

7. Change up the norm– E.g. Make up a story about what your song is trying to express. Play dramatic extremes. Try to bring back some fun.

These are excerpts from ‘The Practice Revolution’ by Philip Johnston, which is filled with wonderful guidance on how best to work with your child.

1. Be Interested

The single best thing parents can do to help their child practice is to be genuinely interested in what’s going on with their music lessons. To be hungry to find out what happened in the last lesson, and how their child plans on being ready for the next one. To want to know how the flute fits together, or how to apply rosin to the bow, or which hand pushes those buttons on the trumpet. And what that left pedal on the piano is called. What’s the highest note their child can play? How fast is that new study supposed to be? What are they most looking forward to showing off at your next lesson? How is their child feeling about their next recital? What made them decide to choose to play this piece? Which scale do they hate the most and why? Which composer do they enjoy playing most? What do they mess up most often in lessons? Such questions can happen in the car, at the dinner table, straight after lessons, while they’re getting their kid dressed for school, at the checkout at the supermarket…wherever. But they should happen a lot. Parents who ask questions like this won’t have to feign fascination—they’ll end up with greater insights into what their child is doing, and in turn be more interested as to how things are progressing. Most children are delighted to be the center of their parent’s attention, and will tend to view favorably any activity that thrusts them into the limelight like that. If music lessons can feature on that list of positive attention-getters, then a large part of the practice battle has been won already.

2. Encourage

Parents don’t need to be gushing over every correct quarter note, but calculated positive feedback from parents is a great way of reinforcing behavior. The logic is that if the parent catches their child doing something right, and then praises them for it, the child is likely to want to repeat that behavior in the future. This can be even more effective if the parent is well-versed in which issues the teacher is trying to develop, allowing for selective targeting of such praise. So if the problem for the past few months has been that the student practices too fast, the next time the parent hears a passage of slow practice—however fleeting—they should pop in and mention to the student how careful their practice is sounding. They can also keep an ear out for when the student may be sounding frustrated with what they are doing—not so they can sweep in and fix the problem, but just so the child knows that there is someone in their corner. Depending on the situation, they can gently encourage the child to try the section a couple more times, or try it a different way, or try a different section altogether, or even to take a break for a while and come back later. The point is that when the child battles with practicing demons, they do so with support, and with plenty of encouragement to persist.

3. Reflect

At the heart of successful practice is the need for students to understand exactly what they are trying to achieve in the week ahead—well before they start the first practice session. This means that instructions from the teacher, and feedback during the lesson are more important than ever. Parents can ensure that the communication between studio and home is complete by having the student reflect back to them the essential information for the week ahead. The student should be able to explain exactly what their tasks are, together with the practice techniques that were recommended to complete them. They should also be able to answer questions about key points that were raised last lesson, together with any details of upcoming deadlines or performances. The questions from the parent are designed to help the student cement their understanding of what’s required, and are probably best conducted as soon after the lesson as possible (in the car on the way home is ideal!). It’s also useful to pop into practice sessions at random and have the student outline again what their goals for the week are…that way, if the practicing has been wandering from the task at hand, the student will be gently reminded to get their eye back on the ball, without anyone having to ask.

4. Steer

Even when kids are completely clear on what their goals are for the week, and have a comprehensive list of practice techniques to use to pursue those goals, they can sometimes be confused as to how to organize it all. Sometimes three pieces, five scales and some theory papers can feel like a lot, and a little help from parents can go a long way. The parents can’t actually do the practice for them, but they can help the child work out how many practice sessions will happen, when they will take place, and how long will be available for each one. Once that’s been done, they can build together a plan for getting everything done. Parents can also keep an eye on the practice sessions themselves, keeping a look out for any obvious appearances of the common practice flaws outlined earlier in this book. For example, if they hear the student spending twenty minutes on a section that they can already play, it’s time to go in and tell the student that the section already sounds great, and that they could be done practicing sooner if they concentrated on tasks for the week that they haven’t mastered yet.

5. Enthuse

While praise can be useful for reinforcing what a student is already doing, being enthusiastic can help motivate students to be excited about things they haven’t even started yet—affecting practice sessions that may not take place for months, or even years. So for example, the parent and child might be listening to an advanced violin sonata on the radio in the car, and the parent might turn to the child and tell them: “You know what’s really exciting? I love listening to this piece, but if things keep going the way they have been, by the time you finish high school, you’ll probably be able to play it! Probably only one person out of every ten thousand who start violin lessons are strong enough inside to make it that far—when I tell you I’m proud of what you did in your lesson today, I’m not kidding.” It’s over the top. But it’s entirely appropriate, because coming from mom or dad, words like that can ring in the child’s ears long after the conversation ends. Parents can enthuse about the new piece their kid has been given. They can enthuse about the fact that their child has almost finished their new book, and may even get through it all before the holidays. They can enthuse about the new instrument their child now has. They can enthuse about how much everyone applauded at the student concert, and how their child was one of the few to play from memory. And the best thing about these various moments of enthusing? They don’t have to be done to the student. They just need to be said within earshot of the student. (In fact, such enthusing will have its greatest credibility and impact if the child believes they were not supposed to hear what was said). So if the parent’s little aside was about how little Matthew is playing so well that it won’t be long before he is playing some Beethoven, don’t be surprised if little Matthew requests some Beethoven in a future lesson. Why? Because being able to play Beethoven is obviously a yardstick for being musically grown up—they know, because they heard their parent say so once. As a mere teacher, no superlatives we may deliver about Beethoven would count as much as that.

6. Progress Checks

With the practice model being based around the student having specific jobs to do, rather than practicing for a set time, knowing whether or not they are ready for their next lesson is more important for students than ever before. Students need to know early in the week if they are starting to fall behind, so that the lesson itself doesn’t sneak up and ambush them—a week can go by awfully quickly if they’re not paying attention. One of the best ways to assess progress is with a couple of well-spaced midweek Checkpoints, and the parent is the perfect audience for the student to show off what they’ve accomplished up until that point. The whole process is similar to the regular inspections that take place on building sites to ensure that the job is running to schedule. So if the student’s job was to learn two pages of music, then by half way through the week, they should be able to play one of them. The check doesn’t exist so that the parent can lecture the student about keeping up. Even if the session reveals that the student is behind, all the response needs to be is a discussion about how to restructure the rest of the week to still meet the deadline—no mention needs to be made about the student having been sub-par at the beginning of the week, because there is absolutely nothing anybody can do to change that now. But there is plenty they can do in the remaining days to ensure that the bad start to the week simply won’t matter at the lesson. If all jobs are completed, as the teacher, you shouldn’t care at all that they had taken things easy for the first three days of the week. This restructuring is not just a conversation about how to fit in extra practice sessions. It should also target how the student is planning on practicing. Often students fall behind because the way they are practicing is not working, not because they are spending insufficient time in the practice room. The parent can go through the list of suggested practice techniques, and help the child look for alternatives to the one they had been using. For those teachers who have their own studio website, midweek checks can also allow students to call for help between lessons—long before the problem grows into a big one. The thirty seconds it takes you to quickly send some advice in response to your student’s help request can transform the thirty minutes of the next lesson, and will be greatly appreciated by parents.

7. Knowing When Not to Help

Sometimes the best help is not to help at all. Some students work best when they are given room to move, and will actively resent parents leaping in with solutions for every practice problem they face. If a student is undergoing temporary difficulties in their relationship with the parent concerned, they may also undergo temporary difficulties with their music lessons if the parent tries to involve themselves in the practice process. (The same student would probably have temporary difficulties with chocolate ice-cream if that same parent announced that they really should start eating some.) Independently of the state of the relationship between parent and child, as students become more autonomous with their practice, the parental involvement model moves gently from helping regularly to simply being available should the student need it. But no matter how independent the practicing becomes, parents continue to set the enthusiasm levels with their own attitudes towards what is happening in music lessons. It can be as simple as eye-contact and a small nod at the end of an obviously good lesson. Parents don’t need to compose a sonnet for their kids to know that they are proud. And they don’t have to be sitting on the piano stool with their kids for every second of practice for the child to feel thoroughly supported, and to feel that the excitement surrounding their progress in lessons is being shared.

The following is an excerpt from ‘How to Get Your Child to Practice… Without Resorting to Violence’ by C. Richards.

“For children, leaving any rewards of practice to be realized only when they finally begin making music sound beautiful may be one of the things that causes such a high drop-out rate among children studying music. Each step of progress should be congratulated and enthusiasm for work on the next step encouraged.

While an adult might be able to wait for results, a child must realize some kind of return for efforts now. That is why it is important for parents and teachers to set specific goals in music study which can be realized by the child, preferably within the practice period itself, or no later than the next lesson.

Once the time for practice is decided, it should be upheld, and practicing should become as much a part of the daily routine as eating meals. When it becomes a habit, an expected part of the day, a part of life, there is no room for argument. The mere presence of a structured routine is conducive to motivation. If practicing is left to be done whenever the child feels like it, it is too easy to be distracted from it, and then the parent starts to nag. Parents, too, must be careful to give practicing top priority during the designated practice time, not allowing other chores or responsibilities to interfere…If the child senses the importance of practicing and receives encouragement in upholding the time commitment, he or she will usually not question what is expected for that period, even though at times the motivation may be weak…Teachers understand that life is not always stable and that occasional bad practice weeks must be tolerated or even expected. But the child learns to judge the importance of practicing by how lightly it can be set aside.

I would not give my own children a choice as to whether or not they were going to brush their teeth. In terms of basic education, why should the study of music be any different than that of math or language or science? Children are not the best judges of what is good for them. However, you can lead children into wanting music by giving them many musical experiences in early childhood.”

Recommended Reading

1. ‘The Practice Revolution’ by Philip Johnston

2. ‘How to Get Your Child to Practice…Without Resorting to Violence’ (Ideas and suggestions to overcome the negative image of practicing. Ideal for frustrated parents.) by C. Richards.

3. ‘I Love to Practice’ (63 Games and activities designed to help in practice sessions.)’ by P. Steiner & Y. Halls

April 23rd, 2010

My Background

Little Bonnie

I began violin lessons at age 3, encouraged by my mother, an orchestra teacher with a Masters in Music Education, and my grandmother, a violinist, and past President of the Utah Valley Symphony.

Teachers

As a child I studied under: Dr. Steve Goodman, Dr. Percy Kalt, Dr. Lawrence Sardoni, and Barbara Williams

At BYU I studied under: Nell Gotkovsky, Dr. Harry Curby, Dr. Ralph Matson (Concertmaster, Utah Symphony)

After graduation I studied with: Meredith Campbell, Dr. Lynette Stewart (Guarnari String Quartet), and Monte Belknap

Presently I study with: Amy Galluzzo (Carpe Diem String Quartet), Calvin Wiersma (Manhattan String Quartet)

Awards

Winner of the Huff Music Contest (violin) for five consecutive years, winning the Sweepstakes Award (overall winner, all instruments) in both years of eligibility (’86-’90)

Superior ratings for State Solo and Ensemble competition, (’87-’90)

Sterling Scholar recipient for music at Payson High (’90)

Full four-year scholarship from the BYU music department (’90)

First prize Utah State Fair Advanced Violin Competition in (’92)

Professional & Recording History

Barlow Bradford’s Utah Chamber Artists (’94-’01)

Kurt Bestor ensembles (’96-’15), Mannheim Steamroller Concert (2015)

Concertmaster, Temple Square Christmas Concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir under the direction of Craig Jessop (’98)

Recorded with L.A. East Studios, recording television and movie soundtracks (’98-’02)

Tuacahn Pit Orchestra (’03)

Recorded with Spiral Studios (’05)

Concertmaster, Southwest Symphony (’04-’06)

Concertmaster of orchestra with Peter Cetera, Dionne Warwick concerts (’05-’06)

Helena Symphony Orchestra (’12)

First violinist, The Empyrean String Quartet (present)

Solos & Ensembles

BYU Philharmonic under the direction of Clyn Barrus (’90-’94)

BYU honors quartet coached by David Dalton, Bryce Rytting, and the Roger Drinkall/Diane Baker Duo (’92-’94)

Toured the USA with the BYU chamber orchestra (’92-’94)

Played in over 30 quartets, trios, and orchestras, soloing on many occasions including with The Lyceum Chamber Orchestra (’86-’89), Utah Valley Symphony (’91), and a performance of Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Southwest Symphony (’04)

Education and Teaching History

I began teaching at age 11 when my orchestra teacher at Payson Middle School, Denise Willey, began sending me students (’83)

Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy, BYU (’96)

Suzuki Teacher Training with Jeanne Grover and Denise Willey, and extensive observation with Deborah Moench (’95-’99)

I’ve taught in the public school system, several different children’s orchestras and chamber groups, and coached many quartets

Dixie State University Adjunct Private Teacher (’04-’09)

Judge for Sterling Scholar, Salute to Youth, State Festivals, Las Vegas Bolognini Scholarship Competition

Workshop presenter Tuacahn Summer Arts Institute, Castle Rock Music Camp

Presently, I annually study chamber music at the Chamber Music Conference of the East in Bennington, Vermont, and the Moab Chamber Retreat in Moab, Utah, and have a private studio based in Santa Clara, Utah, where I teach violin students around the globe via Skype.

My Students

My students have earned scholarships to the Eastman School of Music, BYU, the University of Utah and many others.

In the past ten years I’ve had:

23 students win Music Sterling Scholar, with three winning Regional Music Sterling Scholar, and three more Regional Music Sterling Scholar runners-up

20 students selected to perform in the Salute to Youth Concert with the Southwest Symphony

20 students selected to All-State orchestra, including two concertmasters (2010, 2011), as well as the concertmaster for the St. George Youth Orchestra (2012)

April 23rd, 2010

Welcome to my New Site!

My email was down yesterday while I was changing servers and setting everything up, so if you tried to email me during that time, it probably didn’t go through (please re-send any emails from that time).  But we are on track now, and over the next few days I will be uploading pages and making adjustments, so please check back in periodically to see what is new!

April 23rd, 2010

Glossary

A: A is the note of the musical scale generally used for tuning.

A capriccio: in a fanciful, capricious manner

A niente: to the end

A piacere: at the performer’s discretion, at pleasure

A tempo: resuming the preceding tempo after a slowing or speeding up

Accelerando: ‘becoming faster’… indication that the music should be played at an increasing speed.

Accent: the emphasis on a beat resulting in that beat being louder or longer than another in a measure.

Accidental: a sign – a sharp, flat or natural – indicating the raising or lowering of a note.

Accompaniment: an accompaniment is an additional part for a performer of any kind that is less important than another, which it serves to support and enhance.

Ad libitum: freely; like a cadenza, abbreviated ad lib.

Adagio: ‘quite slow’… is sometimes used to describe a slow movement, even when the indication of speed at the start of the movement may be different. Quite slow. The diminutive form adagietto is a little faster than adagio.

Affetuosamente: tenderly, with feeling and emotion

Affrettando: hurrying, pressing forward

Agitato: restless, hurried, agitated

Al fine: to the end

Al segno: return to the sign

Alla: ‘in the manner of’… may be found in titles like that of Mozart’s ‘Rondo alla turca’, Rondo in the Turkish Style.

Alla breve: 2/2 or 4/2 meter.

Alla marcia: in march style

Allargando: slowing down, usually accompanied by crescendo

Allegramente: Brightly, merrily, happily, cheerily

Allegretto: the diminished form of the tempo marking allegro. Generally indicates a meter should be played a ‘little less fast’. Pieces scored allegretto are also generally lighter in attitude than pieces scored allegro. When categorized in lists of tempos allegretto is found between allegro and andantino.

Allegro: ‘lively, fast, merry, cheerful’… is generally taken as fast, although not as fast as vivace or presto. Allegretto is a diminutive, meaning slightly slower than allegro. These indications of speed or tempo are used as general titles for pieces of music headed by instructions of this kind. The first movement of a classical sonata, for example, is often ‘an Allegro’, just as the slow movement is often ‘an Adagio’.

Allegro guisto: quick, with exactness

Allegro moderato: moderately quick

Amabile: sweet, lovable

Amore, Amoroso: lovingly, tenderly, fondly

Andante: ‘walking’… at a walking pace,  moderately slow.

Andantino: less than andante; correctly means slower than andante, but often used to mean a little faster than andante.

Animando, animato, anime: getting livelier; animated, spirited, lively

Antico: ancient

Aperto: broad, majestic

Appassionato: passionately, with intense feeling

Aria: a solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, as in an opera; An air; a melody.

Arco: ‘bow’… used as an indication to string-players that they should use the bow, rather than pluck with the fingers (see pizzicato).

Arpeggio: broken chord in which the individual tones are sounded one after another instead of simultaneously.

Articulation: the degree to which notes are connected, such as staccato or legato.

Aspro: rough, harsh

Assai: qualifier meaning ‘very’… appears often in indications to performers of the speed of a piece of music, as in allegro assai, very fast.

Attaca: ‘attack’, proceed without a pause between movements.

Atonal: atonal music is music that has no specific tonality, is not in a specific key and therefore has no specific ‘home’ note or chord. The word atonality refers technically to various forms of 20th century music not in a key.

Augmentation: statement of a melody in longer value notes, often twice as slow as the original.

Au talon: bow at the frog

Avec: qualifier meaning ‘with’

Avvivando: becoming livelier

Badinerie: ‘teasing’… indicates a piece of music of light-hearted character.

Bar: the vertical line through the staff to mark metrical units or bars (measures). The double bar or double bar-line marks the end of a section or piece.

Bariolage: the undulating up and down motion of the bow between two strings.

Baroque: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1600 to about 1750. Composers of this era include Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

Bass bar: a specially carved and fitted piece of wood attached to the back of the top of the instrument. Its purpose is to support the ‘down’ pressure of the strings on top of the violin and spread the sound vibrations.

Beat: regular pulsation; a basic unit of length in musical time. The beat or pulse in a piece of music is the regular rhythmic pattern of the music. Each bar should start with a strong beat and each bar should end with a weak beat. These may be known as the down-beat (strong, at the beginning of a bar) and the up-beat (weak, at the end of a bar).

Ben: used as a qualifier meaning ‘well’. E.g. Ben marcato meaning ‘well-marked’.

Ben marcato: well-marked, sustained, or well-accented

Bewegt: moving, agitated

Binary form: the term for describing a composition of two sections. AB, each of which may be reported.

Bowing distribution: the correct distribution of the bow throughout a passage which maintains a uniform evenness of sound, and no distorted or loud notes which stand out and ruin or disturb the fluidity of the music.

Bravoure: bravura, bold, virtuosic

Bridge: transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, (also transition). Also the decorative, carved piece of wood placed on top of the belly of the violin and adjacent to the f-holes. Holds strings in place, up and away from the body. The way it is fitted on the instrument has a major effect on the transmission of vibrations.

Brillante: brilliant, showy, sparkling

Brio, brioso: ‘vivacity, fire or energy’, vigorously… appears as an instruction to performers as, for example, in allegro con brio, fast with brilliance and fire.

Burlesco: comical, jesting

Cadence: a resting place in a musical phrase; a cadence usually consists of two chords that provide musical punctuation at the end of phrases or sentences.

Cadenza: virtuosic solo passage in the manner of an improvisation, performed near the end of a movement or a concerto. A cadenza, based often on an extended and embellished final cadence, at least in classical concertos, is a passage originally improvised by a performer in which virtuoso ability might be shown. Cadenzas are now more often written by the composer, although some modern performers continue to improvise. In classical concertos the cadenza often leads to the last section of a movement.

Calamando: becoming calm and quiet

Calmato, Calamato: calmly, quietly, tranquilly

Calando: dying away, gradually becoming softer and slower

Calore: warmth

Canon: type of polyphonic composition in which one musical line strictly imitates another at a fixed distance throughout. A canon in music is a device in counterpoint in which a melody announced by one voice or instrument is imitated by one or more other voices or instruments, entering after the first has started, in the manner of a round. The word canon may describe the device as it occurs in a piece of music or a complete composition in this form, like Pachelbel’s well known Canon.

Cantabile: singing quality, melodious

Cantando: singing, smooth, flowing

Cappricio: a light-hearted, improvisational, usually quick instrumental or orchestral piece.

Capriccioso: capricious, fanciful, fantastic

Cédez: French for poco ritardando; a slight holding back

Cesura: indicates a complete break in sound. Often called ‘railroad tracks’.

Chamber Music: ensemble music for up to about ten players, with one player to a part. Chamber music is music for a small ensemble of instruments, intended for performance in a room or chamber, as opposed to a church or larger building.

Chamber Orchestra: a chamber orchestra has come to indicate an orchestra smaller in size than the usual symphony orchestra.

Chanterelle: note or passage on the E string.

Chord: simultaneous combination of three or more tones that constitute a single block of harmony.

Chromatic Notes: chromatic notes are those that do not belong to the key in which the piece is written. If an ascending scale is taken from the note C, in the form C, D, E, F, etc., chromatic notes would be C# (C sharp), D# (D sharp), etc., notes not found in the diatonic scale of C major, which has no sharps or flats.

Circle of fifths: the succession of keys or chords proceeding by fifths.

Classical: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1750 to about 1820. Composers of this era include: Haydyn, Mozart and Beethoven. In the most general meaning of the word, classical music may designate fine music or serious music.

Clef: the five lines generally used in musical notation have no precise meaning without the addition at the left-hand side of a clef, a sign that specifies the note to be indicated by one of the lines, from which other notes may be gauged.

Coda: a supplementary ending to a compostion. The last part of a piece, usually added to a standard form to bring it to a close. This may be very short, but in a composition on a large scale may be extended. The diminutive codetta may be used to indicate the closing part of a section of a composition.

Codetta: in sonata form, the concluding section of the exposition. Also a brief coda concluding an inner section of work.

Col, coll’, colla: qualifier meaning with or ‘with the’

Colla parte: following the solo part

Collé: an off the string lower-half détaché. The attack of the note should be on the string, and the moment the bow is suddenly drawn horizontally it begins its lift away from the string. It is possible to play collé at the tip, though not usually musically desirable.

Common time: the time signature 4/4

Comodo, commodo: comfortable, moderate, at an easy pace, easily, quietly, moderately, at a moderate pace, without haste

Con: a qualifier meaning ‘with’

Con amore: with love, tenderly

Con anima: with animation

Con brio: with brilliancy

Con calore: with warmth

Con delicatezza: with delicacy

Con fermezza: firm energetic style

Con forza: with force

Con fuoco: with fire, impetuous

Con furore: with furor

Con gusto: with taste

Con grazia: with grace

Con moto: with motion, movement, animation

Con passione: with passion

Con rigore: with rigor, strict

Con sordino: with the mute

Con spirito: with spirit, animated

Concertante: a concertante part in a piece of music is a part that calls for some element of solo performance, as in a classical concerto. The word is found in the phrase Sinfonia concertante, which is used to indicate an orchestral composition with two or more solo instruments, a title used from the late 18th century onwards.

Concertmaster: the leader of an orchestra (that is, the principal first violin).

Concerto: instrumental genre in several movements for solo instrument (or instrumental group) and orchestra. A concerto is a piece of instrumental music that contrasts a solo instrument or a small group of solo instruments with the main body of the orchestra

Conductor: person who, by means of gestures, leads performances of musical ensembles.

Conjunct: smooth, connected melody that moves principally by small measures.

Contrast: contrast of music materials sustains our interest and feeds our love of change; it provides variety to a form.

Countermelody: an accompanying melody sounded against the principle melody.

Counterpoint: the compositional art of combining two or more simultaneous melodic lines; term means ‘point against point” or ‘note against note”. Counterpoint is the combination of two or more melodic lines, the second or later additional melodies described as counterpoints to the first. If harmony is regarded as vertical, as it is in conventional notation, signifying the simultaneous sounding of notes in chords, counterpoint may be regarded as horizontal. The adjective from counterpoint is contrapuntal.

Crescendo:  ‘growing, becoming louder’… the dynamic effect of gradually growing louder, indicated in the musical score by the marking “<”

Cue: indication by the conductor or a spoken word or gesture for a performer to make an entry. Small notes that indicate another performer’s part.

Cut time: synonymous to the meter 2/2: two half-note beats per measure. Cut time is denoted by a 3/4 circle with a vertical line through it.

D.C. (or Da capo): ‘from the beginning’… an indication to return to the beginning of a piece. Abbreviated to the letters D.C. at the end of a piece of music or a section of it, means that it should be played again from the beginning (De capo al fine) or from the beginning up to the sign (Da capo al segno).

Da, dal or de: qualifier meaning ‘from’

Da ballo: in dance style, light and spirited

Da capo (or D.C.): ‘from the beginning’… an indication to return to the beginning of a piece. Abbreviated to the letters D.C. at the end of a piece of music or a section of it, means that it should be played again from the beginning (De capo al fine) or from the beginning up to the sign (Da capo al segno).

Dal segno: repeat from the sign

Declamatory: ostentatiously lofty in style

Decrescendo: ‘growing less’… the dynamic effect of gradually growing softer, indicated in the music score by the marking “>”

Détaché: a fundamental bowing stroke used when a passage is made up of even up and down bows. One note per bow. The bow should be firmly on the string at all times, and this stroke is usually played in the middle of the bow.

Development: structural reshaping of thematic material. second section of sonata-allegro form; it moves through a series of foreign keys while themes from the exposition are manipulated.

Diatonic: melody or harmony built from seven tones of major or minor scale. A diatonic scale encompasses patterns of seven whole tones and semitones.

Diminuendo: ‘becoming less’… is used as a direction to performers to play softer.

Disjunct: disjointed or disconnected melody with many leaps.

Disperato: desperate, hopeless

Divisi: divided, each part to be played by a separate instrument

Dolce, dolcemente: sweetly, softly, suave

Dolente: sad, weeping, mournful

Doloroso: grievingly, painfully, pathetically, mournful

Dominant: the fifth scale step, sol. Also, a brand of quality violin strings.

Dominant Chord: chord built on the fifth scale step, the V chord.

Double exposition: in the concerto, twofold statement of the themes, once by the orchestra and once by the soloist.

Double-stop: playing two notes simultaneously on a string instrument.

Downbeat: first beat of the measure, the strongest in any meter.

Duet: a piece of music written for two performers.

Duramente: firmly, boldly, harshly

Dynamics: element of musical expression relating to the degree of loudness, or softness, or volume, of a sound.

Effreto: the effect of music on an audience

Embellishment: melodic decoration, either improvised or indicated through ornamentation signs in the music.

Emphatique: emphatic, decisive

Encore: ‘again’; an audience request that the performer(s) repeat a piece or perform another.

Energico: vigorous, spirited, decisive

Elegy: an elegy (French: élégie) is a lament, either vocal or instrumental.

Ensemble: a group of performers. It may also refer to the togetherness of a group of performers: if ensemble is poor, the players are not together.

Eras: classical music is commonly grouped into six eras: Middle Ages (500-1420), Renaissance (1420-1600), Baroque (1600-1750), Classical (1750-1820), Romantic (1820-1900), 20th Century (1900-present).

Espressivo: expressively

Etude: a study piece that focuses on a particular technical problem.

Exposition: opening section. The exposition in sonata-allegro form is the first section of the movement, in which the principal thematic material is announced. In the exposition of a fugue (a fugal exposition) the voices (parts) enter one by one with the same subject: the exposition ends when all the voices have entered.

Expressivo: expressively

Facile: easy, fluent

Facilité: ease, fluency

False tone: refers to the tone of a string that is no longer true to pitch and which cannot be tuned to stay in pitch. Sometimes called a ‘dead string’.

Fermata: a hold or pause; when placed over a note it indicates that the note is to be held longer.

Fiddle: a fiddle is a violin, but the word is used either colloquially or to indicate a folk-instrument.

Fieramente: flashy, fiery, energetic

Fine: ‘the end’

Fingerboard: a long strip of wood fixed on the neck of stringed instruments against which strings are pressed in order to vary the pitch.

Flat: the word “flat”, indicated by a sign derived from the letter b, shows that a note should be lowered by a semitone.

Flautando: the bow is played lightly over the fingerboard, creating a hazy sound. See also: sul tasto

Flying Spiccato: like regular spiccato, but instead of remaining stationary the bow is drawn along the strings as it is bounced, producing a virtuoso effect.

Form: the structure or shape of a musical work, based on repetition, contrast, and variation; the organizing principle in music.

Forte: ‘loud’…indicated in a musical score by the marking ‘f’. It appears in the superlative form fortissimo, very loud. The letter f is an abbreviation of forte, ff an abbreviation of fortissimo, with fff or more rarely ffff even louder.

Forte-piano: accent strongly, then diminsh at once to piano (soft). Indicated by the marking ‘fp’.

Fortissimo: ‘very loud’… indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘ff’.

Forza, Forzando: with force, accented. Indicated by the marking ‘fz’.

Frequency: rate of vibration of a string which determines pitch.

Frog: the portion of the bow held by the player’s hand.

Fuoco: fire

Furioso: furiously, wildly

Genre: general term describing the standard category and overall character of a work.

Giocoso: ‘jocular, cheerful, gaily’…sometimes found as part of a tempo instruction to a performer, as in allegro giocoso, fast and cheerful.

Gioviale: ‘jovial’.

Giusto: ‘just, exact’… indicating a return to the original speed of the music after a freer passage.

Glissando: rapid slide through pitches of a scale.

Grace note: ornamental note, often printed in small type and not performed rhythmically.

Grandioso: with grandeur, pompously, majestically, loftily

Grave: ‘slow, solemn’… is used as an indication of tempo and mood, meaning very slow and serious.

Grazioso: gracefully, elegantly

Guisto: strictly, exactly

Gut string: a string that has a gut core and is wound with some other material. A gut string has a beautiful sound with less volume than a steel string and has a short life expectancy before it goes false.

Half step: smallest interval used in the western system, the octave divides into twelve such intervals; on the piano, the distance between any two adjacent keys, whether black or white.

Harmonics: individual pure sounds that are part of any musical tone; in string instruments, crystalline tones in the very high register, produced by lightly touching a vibrating string at a certain point.

Harmony: the simultaneous sounding of two or more notes and the technique governing the construction of such chords and their arrangement in a succession of chords. Following the convention of writing music from left to right on a horizontal set of lines (staff or stave), harmony may be regarded as vertical, as opposed to counterpoint, which is horizontal. In other words harmony deals with chords, simultaneous sounds, and counterpoint with melody set against melody.

Imitation: compositional technique in which a melodic idea is presented in one part, then restated in another while the first voice continues with new material.

Impetuoso: impetuously, vehemently

Improvisation: the art of creative expression derived from a spontaneous individual interpretation. Improvisation was once a normal part of a performer’s stock-in-trade. Many of the greatest composer-performers, from Bach to Mozart and Beethoven, were masters of improvisation, but in the 19th century this became a less common part of public performance.

Incalzando: Growing more vehement, to chase.

Inflection: small alteration of pitch by a microtonal interval.

Interval: distance and relationship between two pitches.

Intonation: the exactness of pitch or lack of it in playing or singing.

Issimo: a suffix that when added to a word means ‘more’. E.g. presto is ‘fast’, prestissimo is ‘very fast’.

Key: defines the relationship of tones with a common center or tonic. The key in which a piece of music is written indicates the scale used and the key note or home note, on the chord of which it must end.

Key Signature: sharps or flats placed at the beginning of a piece to show the key of a work.

L’istesso tempo: ‘the same speed/tempo’… signifies that the tempo remains as before, after a change of time signature.

Lamentoso: like a lament

Langsam: slowly

Largamente: in a very broad style, not quite as slow as largo

Largando: growing slower and more marked while also making a crescendo

Larghetto: ‘broad, wide, large’… is a diminutive form of Largo usually a direction of tempo, meaning slow. Larghetto is slowish, not as slow as Largo.

Largo: broadly and slowly but not as slow as grave.

Legatissimo: exceedingly smooth

Legato: long, smooth bow stroke; smooth and connected, opposite of staccato.

Leggiero, Leggero: lightly, delicately, nimble, quick, airy

Legno: ‘wood’; appears in the phrase ‘col legno’, with the wood, an instruction to string players to hit the strings with the back of the bow.

Lentamente: slowly

Lento: very slow and in a calm, deliberate manner. Slower than adagio, but not quite as slow as largo.

Lesto: gay, lively, brisk

Lirico: lyrical

Loco: play as written (generally used to cancel an 8va direction).

Louré: a slightly pulsating legato, also sometimes referred to as portato. The notes are purposely separated (only slightly and within a slur) and a slight vibrato emphasis may be used to draw out each individual note.

Lusingando: coaxingly, teasingly

Ma: a qualifier meaning ‘but’.

Ma non troppo: but not too much, without rushing

Maestoso: ‘majestically’… used to suggest a majestic or dignified manner of performance, either in mood or speed.

Maggiore: major

Major Scale: a collection of seven different pitches ordered in a specific pattern of whole and half steps. (whole whole half whole whole whole half).

Marcato: marked, distinct and accented

Marcatissimo: with much accentuation

Marcia: a march

Martelé, Martellato: hammered notes played with a sharp, decided stroke; very strongly accented

Martiale: in military style

Mazurka: a Polish national dance in triple time; music compsed for dancing the muzurka.

Measure: a rhythmic grouping that contains a fixed number of beats; in notated music it appears as a vertical line through the staff.

Melody: a succession of single tones or pitches that together express a distinctive sequence and idea.

Meno: qualifier meaning ‘less’… used in musical directions to qualify other words as in meno mosso, with less movement.

Meno mosso: slower, less motion/movement

Mesto, mestoso: ‘sad’… used as an indication of mood

Meter: organization of rhythm in time; the grouping of beats into larger, regular patterns, notated as measures.

Metronome: device used to indicate the tempo by sounding regular beats at adjustable speeds.

Mezza, mezzo: qualifier meaning ‘half or moderately’… found particularly in the compound words mezzo-forte, half loud, represented by the letters mf, and mezzo-piano, half soft, represented by the letters mp.

Mezzo-forte: ‘moderately loud’… indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘mf’

Mezzo-piano: ‘moderately soft’… indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘mp’

Middle Ages: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 500- 1420. Composers of this era include Euripides, Ventadorn and Halle.

Minor Scale: a collection of seven different pitches ordered in a specific pattern of whole and half steps (whole half whole whole whole half whole).

Minore: minor

Misterioso: mysteriously

Mode: scale or sequence of notes used as the basis for a composition; major and minor are modes. Modal scales are found in various forms. The first church mode is the Dorian, the third the Phrygian, the fifth the Lydian and the seventh the Mixolydian. These are the ‘authentic modes’, their range from D to D, E to E, F to F and G to G respectively. Theorists later distinguished two further pairs of authentic and plagal modes, the Aeolian, A to A, and the Ionian, C to C. The Locrian mode, B to B, is inaccurately named, but was early distinguished as Hyperaeolian.

Moderato: ‘moderate’… an indication of the speed to be adopted by a performer. It may be used to qualify other adjectives, as allegro moderato, moderately fast.

Modulation: the process of changing from one key to another.

Moll: minor

Molto: ‘very much’, a great deal… often found in directions to performers, as in allegro molto or allegro di molto, molto vivace or molto piano.

Mordent: ‘biting’. An ornament consisting of an alteration (once or twice) of the written note by playing the one immediately below it (lower mordent), or above it (upper, or inverted, mordent) and then playing the note again.

Morendo: dying away slower and softer

Mosso: ‘moved, agitated, energetically’… is generally found in the phrases più mosso, faster, and meno mosso, slower.

Motif / Motive: a short melodic or rhythmic idea; the smallest fragment of a theme that forms a melodic-harmonic-rhythmic unit.

Moto: ‘motion, movement’… is found in the direction ‘con moto’, with movement, fast. A moto perpetuo is a rapid piece that gives the impression of perpetual motion, as in the Allegro de concert of Paganini or the last movement of Ravel’s Violin Sonata.

Moto perpetuo: perpetual motion

Movement: complete, self-contained part within a larger musical work. A movement is a section of a more extended work that is more or less complete in itself, although occasionally movements are linked together, either through the choice of a final inconclusive chord or by a linking note, as in the first and second movement of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Mutes: mechanical device used to muffle the sound of a violin by controlling the vibration of the bridge.

Natural: a natural is a note that is neither a sharp nor a flat. A musical symbol which cancels a previous sharp or flat.

Nel, nella, nell’: in the, at the

Neoclassical: a style in music which indicates a 20th century eclectic return by some composers to various styles and forms of earlier periods, whether classical or baroque. The style is exemplified in the score for the ballet Pulcinella by Stravinsky or by the same composer’s opera The Rake’s Progress.

Niente: ‘nothing’ (as in a niente, ‘diminishing to nothing’).

Non: qualifier meaning ‘not’, no

Notation: the method of writing music down.

Note: either a single sound or its representation in notation.

Obbligato: a secondary part added to a composition to enhance.

Octave: interval between two tones seven diatonic pitches apart; the lower note vibrates half as fast as the upper and sounds an octave lower. The octave is an interval of an eighth, as for example from the note C to C or D to D.

Open Strings: the strings of a stringed instrument when played without being fingered.

Opus: ‘work’; is generally used in the listing of a composer’s works by opus numbers, usually abbreviated to Op.

Orchestra: a performing group of diverse instruments, usually comprised of multiple string sections (violin, viola, cello), with various woodwind, brass and percussion instruments.

Orchestration: the art of arranging music for the orchestra or the way in which this is done.

Ornamentation: formalized decorations of a melodic line, such as the trill or mordent. Embellishment.

Ostinato: a short melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic pattern, element or phrase that is repeated throughout a work or a section of one.

Ottava: an octave, an eighth

Ottava alta: the octave higher

Ottava basso: the octave lower

Overture: an introductory movement; also an orchestral work for concert performance.

Part: a part may indicate the line or music intended for a particular performer.

Passionato: passionately, fervently

Pastorale: pastoral, country-like

Pedal point: sustained tone over which the harmonies change.

Peg box: the portion of a stringed instrument that holds the tuning pegs.

Perdendosi: dying away; gradually diminish in volume, rhythm and tone

Perfect cadence: the chordal progression of dominant to tonic, in a major key V-I, in minor V-i.

Perfect pitch: the ability to hear and identify a note without any other musical support.

Performance practice: the attempt to perform music in the way envisaged originally by the composer.

Pernambuco: a very hard wood which is the preferred wood for making a very fine bow.

Pesante: heavy, ponderous, firm, vigorous.

Philharmonic: the adjective Philharmonic and noun Philharmonia are generally used as adopted titles by orchestras or by music-loving societies of one sort or another. The words have no other technical meaning.

Phrase: musical unit; often a component of a melody, generally ending in a cadence of some kind, and forming part of a period or sentence. Phrasing in performance has a less precise use, indicating the correct grouping of notes, whether as phrases in the technical sense or in smaller distinct units, corresponding to the various possible syntactical uses of punctuation.

Piacere: ‘pleasure’. E.g. A Piacere or Suo Piacere: at the performer’s discretion, at pleasure

Pianissimo: ‘very soft’… indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘pp’

Piano: ‘soft’… indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘p’. Pianissimo, represented by pp, means very soft. Addition of further letters p indicates greater degrees of softness, as in Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, where an excessive pppppp is used.

Pie, plus: qualifier meaning ‘more’

Pitch: the highness or lowness/deepness of a tone, depending on the frequency (rate of vibration). Perfect pitch is the ability to distinguish the pitch of a note, according to generally accepted nomenclature. Relative pitch is the ability to distinguish the pitch of one note with relation to another, given note.

Più: ‘more’… is found in directions to performers, as in più forte, louder, or più lento, slower.

Più mosso: more motion, more rapid

Pizz.: see pizzicato

Pizzicato: performance direction to pluck a string of a bowed instrument with the finger. A return to the use of the bow is indicated by the word ‘Arco’, bow. Pizzicato notes on the violin, viola and cello are normally plucked with the index finger of the right hand. The great violinist Paganini, however, introduced the technique of left-hand pizzicato for occasional use, notably in one of the variations of his 24th Caprice, where it produces a very special effect.

Placido: placid, tranquil, smooth

Play position: the correct posture (including stance, bow hold, violin positioning etc.) of readiness before beginning to play or perform.

Poco: ‘little’… is found in directions to performers, as in poco allegro, although un poco allegro, a little fast, would be more accurate. Poco, in fact, is commonly used meaning un poco, a little.

Poco a poco: ‘little by little’.

Polonaise: heroic or ceremonial polish dance

Polyphony: the art of counterpoint, or combining melodies.

Pomposo: pompously, loftily, majestic, dignified

Ponticello: bowing is down near the bridge and creates a glassy sounding tone.

Portamento: a mild glissando between two notes for expressive effect.

Portato: a lightly emphasized détaché, with added inflection possibly aided to a slight degree by a more expressive vibrato. This can be bowed with several notes in the same bow, or separately.

Postlude: is played at the end of a piece and indicates, in particular, the additional piano phrases that may appear at the end of a piece, after the performer has stopped. The word is more widely used to describe the closing section of a work or to indicate a piece of music to be played as the conclusion of some ceremony, the opposite of a prelude.

Prelude: a movement or section of a work that comes before another, usually larger, movement or section of a work, although the word also has been used for short independent pieces that may stand alone, or even for more extended works, such as Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.

Pressez: ‘quicken’…

Prestissimo: as fast as possible. Indicated by ‘pp’ or ‘ppp’.

Presto: ‘quickly’, rapidly… is used frequently as a direction to performers. (Faster than allegro.) An even faster speed is indicated by the superlative prestissimo or even il più presto possibile, as fast as possible.

Presto assai: very very fast.

Prima volta: the ‘first time’

Primo: first, principal

Profonda: profoundly

Programme music: music that has a narrative or descriptive extra-musical content. Music of this kind has a long history, but the term programme music was coined by Liszt, whose symphonic poems principally attempt to translate into musical terms works of literature, such as Goethe’s Faust or Dante’s Divina Commedia. It seems preferable that the term should be limited to instrumental music for concert use and should not include either incidental music or ballet music.

Progression: a series of harmonies.

Pronto: promptly, swiftly

Purfling: ornamentation or decoration inlaid around the edges on the top of a stringed instrument.

Quadruplet: a group of four notes played in the time normally occupied by three.

Quarter-tone: Divisions of the tone smaller than a semitone are occasionally found in art-music, particularly in the 20th century. Quarter-tones occur in the solo violin part of the Second Violin Concerto of Belá Bartók.

Quasi: almost, ‘as if’, in the manner of

Quasi sognando: dreamily

Rallentando: ‘becoming slower’… gradually growing slower, not as slow as ritardando

Range: distance between the lowest and highest tones of a melody, an instrument or a voice. This span can be generally described as narrow, medium or wide in range.

Recitativo: a style used in operas, oratorios, and cantatas in which the text is declaimed in the rhythm of natural speech with slight melodic variation and little orchestral accompaniment.

Register: specific area in the range of an instrument or voice.

Relative major and minor: the najor and minor keys that share the same key signature. Thus, the E major is the relative sharp of C minor, since both have four sharps.

Relative pitch: the ability to determine the pitch of a note in terms of its relationship to the notes that precede and follow it.

Religioso: in a reverent, devotional style

Renaissance: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1420 to about 1600. Composers of this Machaut, Dufay and Josquin.

Repeat sign: musical symbol that indicates repetition of a passage in a composition.

Resolution: conclusion of a musical idea, as in the progression from an active chord to a rest chord.

Resonance: the phenomenon by which several strings tuned to pitches that are harmonically related will vibrate even if only one of the strings is struck.

Rest position: stance or posture (feet together, violin under arm) a player takes directly preceding a bow.

Restez: stay in the position

Rhythm: the arrangement of notes according to their relative duration and relative accentuation.

Ricochet: rebounding/springing bow. Bow rebounds on several notes in the same bow.

Rinforzando: suddenly reinforce the volume of tone by an abrupt heavy accent (rfz)

Risoluto: in a resolute, vigorous, decided style

Ritardando: ‘becoming slower’… abbreviated often to rit. or ritard.

Ritenuto: ‘held back’… directs a player to slow down at once.

Ritornando: holding back, getting slower.

Ritornello: a short recurring passage that unifies an instrumental or vocal work. It became a frequent element in baroque solo concertos by composers such as Vivaldi.

Romantic: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1820 to about 1900. Composers of this era include Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

Romanticism: commonly applied to a period or the predominant features of that period, from the early 19th century until the early 20th. Features of romanticism in music include an attention to feeling rather than to formal symmetry, expressed in a freer use of traditional forms, an expansion of the instrumental resources of music and an extension of harmonic language.

Rondo: musical form in which the first section recurs. Rondo form involves the use of a recurrent theme between a series of varied episodes, often used for the rapid final movement of a classical concerto or symphony.

Rosin: substance made from the hardened tree sap, rubbed on the hair of a bow to help it grip the strings.

Rubato: flexibility of tempo within a musical phrase for expressive effect. In ‘robbed time’… taking from one note and adding to another.

Ruvido: rough, harsh

Saltando: rebounding/springing bow. Bow rebounds on several notes in the same bow.

Saltato: bouncing or ‘jumping’ bow. Usually two or more notes per bow are used.

Sans: qualifier meaning ‘without’

Sautille: fast spiccato acquired through a completely relaxed hand that permits sufficient elasticity to allow the bow to bounce itself. A rapid bounce, half on and half off the string, relies on natural rebound.

Scale: a series of tones or pitches in ascending or descending order.

Scherzando: ‘playfully’… in a sporting, livey manner.

Scherzo: a joke

Score: the full copy of written music that shows all parts. A conductor’s score, for example, may have as many as thirty different simultaneous instrumental parts on one page.

Scroll: the curved head of a stringed instrument where the tuning pegs are set.

Segue: proceed without interruption

Semplice: simple and unaffected, natural, with simplicity

Semi-tone: also known as a half step, the smallest interval commonly used.

Sempre: ‘always’… is found in directions to performers, as in sempre piano, ‘always soft’.

Sentimentale: with feeling

Senza: qualifier meaning ‘without’… is found in directions to performers, particularly in phrases such as senza crescendo, ‘without crescendo’.

Senza Sordino: without the mute

Sequence: a successive transposition and repetition of a phrase at different pitches.

Sereno: in a serene, tranquil style

Serialism: method of composition in which various musical elements (pitch, rhythm, dynamics, tone, color) may be ordered in a fixed series. Serialism is the important 20th century compositional technique that uses, as a basis of unity, a series of the twelve semitones of the octave in a certain order, which may then be taken in retrograde form, in inversion and in retrograde inversion, and also in transposition.

Sforzando (or sfz.): giving a strong accent.

Sharp: represented by the sign #, added before a note, raises its pitch by a semitone. In general terms music that is sharp may be simply out of tune, at too high a pitch.

Siciliano: a fairly slow dance with swaying rhythm in compound time, usually 6/8 or 12/8.

Simile: ‘similarly’… continue in a like manner.

Sinfonia: in earlier usage indicated a passage or piece of instrumental music, sometimes an introductory piece, leading later to the Italian overture, known as the sinfonia before the opera, the origin of the Italian symphony.

Sinfonia Concertante: a concerto that uses two or more solo instruments. The title was used in the later 18th century by Mozart, Haydn and their contemporaries, and has occasionally been used by composers since then.

Sinfonietta: a small symphony. The word is sometimes used to indicate a small orchestra.

Sforzando: perform the tone with special stress, or marked and sudden emphasis, indicated in the musical score by the marking ‘sf’ or ‘sfz’ or ‘sffz’.

Slur: a curve over notes to indicate that a phrase is to be played legato, in the same bow stroke. E.g. Up up or down down.

Smorzando (or smorz.): fading away, growing slower and softer, dying away to a whisper

Soave: smoothly

Sognando: dreamily

Solo: a composition for a single instrument

Son Filé: sunstained tone

Sonata: The title sonata originally designated music that was to be played rather than sung. The baroque sonata developed in two parallel forms. The first, the sonata da chiesa or church sonata, was generally of four movements in the order slow-fast-slow-fast, the faster movements fugal in character. The second, the sonata da camera or chamber sonata, was in essence a dance suite.

Sonata-form: based on a triple division of a movement into exposition, development and recapitulation. The first section normally contains two contrasting subjects, the first in the tonic key and the second in the dominant key or in the relative major of a minor key movement. The section ends with a coda or codetta. The middle section, the development, offers varied treatment of themes or parts of themes that have already been heard. The recapitulation brings back the first and second subjects now in the tonic key. The movement ends with a coda.

Sonatina: a ‘little sonata’, simpler in structure and shorter in length than a sonata.

Sonore: deep, full, rich tone

Sordamente: with a veiled, muffled tone

Sordino: mute

Sotto Voce: ‘very softly’… in an undertone.

Sostenuto: ‘sustained’… prolonged, is a direction to performers to play smoothly, slower than before.

Sound Post: A dowel-like stick specially carved and fitted and placed inside the violin through the f-hole in a certain position near the bridge. The sound post greatly influences the tonal capabilities of the instrument and also supports the top of the instrument against the tenison of the strings.

Spiccato: a type of bowing in which the bow is allowed to bounce rather than be drawn across the string.

Subito: suddenly, quickly, rapidly

Spiritoso: spiritedly, animated

Staccato: short, detached notes, marked with a dot above them. Play sharply in an abrupt, disconnected manner.

Staff: indicates the set of lines used for the notation of notes of different pitches.

Stentato: forced, loud

Stretto: quickened in tempo

Stringendo: pressing forward; sometimes erroneously intepreted as a combination of accelerando and crescendo.

Strings: String instruments are chordophones, instruments that sound by the vibration of a string of a certain tension. The string section of the modern orchestra uses first and second violins, violas, cellos and double basses. A string trio consists of violin, viola and cello; a string quartet consists of two violins, viola and cello and a string quintet either of two violins, two violas and cello, as in the case of Mozart’s work in this form, or of two violins, viola and two cellos, as in the case of Schubert’s famous C major String Quintet and the Quintets of Boccheri. Other numbers and combinations of string instruments are possible in other ensembles.

Study: a piece of music originally designed primarily for the technical development of the player.

Style: characteristic manner of presentation of musical elements (melody, rhythm, harmony, dynamics, form etc.).

Subdominant: the fourth scale step, fa.

Subdominant chord: chord built on the fourth scale step, the IV chord.

Subito: suddenly

Subject: main idea or theme of a work.

Suite: an instrumental piece consisting of several shorter pieces. The baroque suite generally contains a series of dance movements, in particular the allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue.

Sul G: play the passage on the G string only.

Sul Ponticello: bowing is down very near to the bridge and creates a glassy sounding tone.

Sul Tasto: the bow is played lightly over the fingerboard, creating a hazy sound. See also: flautando

Suono: sound

Suspension: the use of a nonharmonic tone to delay the resolution of a chord, frequently as it occurs in a cadence.

Symphony: large work for orchestra, generally in three movements. Interchangeable with the word ‘orchestra’ when describing a large ensemble of musicians.

Syncopation: accent on an unexpected beat. Deliberate upsetting of the meter or pulse through a temporary shifting of the accent to a weak beat or offbeat.

Tacet: remains silent. Indicates that a performer is not to play.

Tanto: ‘so much’… is occasionally found in tempo indications, as in allegro ma non tanto, similar in meaning, if slightly weaker than allegro ma non troppo, allegro but not too much.

Tempestoso: stormily, passionately

Tempo: rate of speed or pace of music.

Tempo I: resuming the opening tempo

Tempo giusto: in strict time; the correct tempo

Tempo rubato: irregular or robbed time; flexible with some beats slower and others faster

Teneramente: tenderly, delicately, softly

Tenuto: ‘held’, sustained. Is to touch on a note slightly longer than usual, but without generally altering the note’s value.

Ternary Form: three-part (A-B-A) form based on a statement (A), contrast or departure (B), and repetition (A).

Tertian harmony: a term used to describe music based on chords arranged in intervals of thirds.

Texture: the interweaving of melodic (horizontal) and harmonic (vertical) elements in the musical fabric. Texture is generally described as monophonic (single line), heterophonic (elaboration on a single line), homophonic (single line with accompaniment), or polyphonic (many voiced).

Thematic development: musical expansion of a theme by varying its melodic outline, harmony or rhythm.

Theme: melodic idea used as a basic building block in the construction of a composition.

Theory: the study of how music is put together.

Third: interval between two notes that are two diatonic scale steps apart.

Timbre: the quality of a sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another. (Also: ‘tone color’.)

Time: unlike the word tempo, which means speed or pace, ‘time’ is used in music for the metrical divisions or bar-lengths of a piece of music. These are indicated by two numbers at the beginning of a work or at the introduction of a changed time by two numbers that form a time-signature. The higher of the two numbers shows how many beats there are in a bar, while the lower number shows what kind of note it is. In this way a duple time-signature of 2/4 means that each bar consists of two quarter notes or crotchets or their equivalent in notes of shorter or longer duration. An indication of compound time such as 6/8 shows that there are six quavers or eighth notes in each bar, although in faster speeds these will be in two groups of three. Prime higher numbers such as five or seven necessitate asymmetrical groupings of notes.

Time signature: the two numbers that indicate the number of beats per bar of a piece of music, given at the beginning of the first staff, and whenever the number of beats changes. The lower number shows the length of note assigned one beat (i.e., 2 as the lower number refers to half notes, 4 refers to quarter notes, 8 to eighth notes, etc.) and the upper number shows how many of those notes are in a single bar. Thus, 3/4 means three quarter notes to the bar; 5/16 means five sixteenth notes, and so on.

Tonality: principle of organization around a tonic, or home, pitch, based on a major or minor scale.

Tone: a sound of definite pitch.

Tone cluster: highly dissonant combination of pitches sounded simultaneously.

Tone color: the quality of a sound that distinguishes one voice or instrument from another. (Also ‘timbre’.)

Tonic: the first note of a scale, which serves as the home base around which the other pitches revolve and to which they ultimately gravitate.

Tonic chord: triad built on the first scale, the I chord.

Tosto: quick, swift, rapid

Traditional music: music that is learned by oral transmission and is easily sung or played by most people; may exist in variant forms.

Tranquillo: quietly, calmly

Transcription: music may be transcribed or arranged for instruments other than those for which it was originally designed. Well known transcriptions are found among the short pieces arranged for violin and piano by the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler.

Transition: transitional passage connecting two sections of a composition, (also bridge).

Transpose: the process of re-writing music to suit a different key signature, pitch or instrument.

Tre: three

Tre corde: three strings

Treble: treble instruments are instruments of higher register and the G clef in use for this register is commonly known as the treble clef.

Tremolo: (Italian: ‘trembling’) indicates the rapid repetition or alternation of a note(s).

Triad: the basic form of three-note chord on which all diatonic harmony is based; it consists of a tonic plus the notes that lie a major (or minor) third and a perfect fifth above it.

Trill: a musical ornament consisting of the rapid alternation between one tone and the next above it.

Triple meter: basic metrical pattern of three beats to a measure.

Triple stop: playing three notes simultaneously on a string instrument.

Triplet: group of three equal-valued notes played in the time of two; indicated by a bracket and the number 3.

Troppo: ‘too much’… warns a player not to overdo an effect, as in allegro ma non troppo, allegro but not too much.

Tutta, tutti: ‘all’, the whole… is used in orchestral music to distinguish the part of a solo instrument from that of the rest of the section or orchestra.

Twentieth Century: used in music to designate a period of musical history from about 1900 to present. Composers of this era include Bartok, Prokofiev and Stravinsky.

Un poco: ‘a little’

Unison: the simultaneous sounding of the same note by two or more singers or players.

Up-beat: the beat before a strong beat; also, the conductor’s signal immediately before the first entry.

Upbow staccato: there are many kinds of upbow staccatos: normal/loose, stiff, off-the-bow. To execute properly, set the weight with your arm. This weight is constant and never varies. The bow stick should remain down, as opposed to jumping up and down. From there, the secret is in the wrist. Do clockwise motions with your hand so that the third finger is doing the work. Use the first finger as the pivot point with the third doing the motion. Combine that with a smooth arm.

Variation: a formal principle in which some aspects of the music are altered but the original is still recognizable. Variation form involves the repetition of a theme in changed versions.

Vibrato: is an oscillation in the pitch of a note designed to add interest, warmth, tension and character to the tone of a note.

Vigoroso: vigorous, with energy

Violin: a bowed instrument with four strings, which is used to provide the soprano and alto parts in the string section of the modern orchestra and the string quartet. It was developed in something approaching its modern form in the 16th century, gradually coming to occupy an unrivalled position because of its remarkable acoustical properties and its versatility. Particular distinction was added by the great violin-makers of Northern Italy and of the Austrian Tyrol, while the later 18th century brought gradual changes of construction of bow and instrument to provide greater resonance. The violin’s four strings are set in vibration (usually one at a time) by drawing a bow across them with the right hand while the fingers of the left hand stop the strings, changing its vibrate length and thus the pitch.

Virtuoso: performer of exceptional technical ability.

Vite: rapid

Vivace: lively, animated, brisk. Faster than allegro.

Vivo: lively, spirited, briskly

Volta: time (2da volta = 2nd time through)

Volta prima: first time

Whole step: interval separated by two half steps, or semi-tones.

Whole-tone scale: scale pattern built entirely of whole step intervals.

Wolf tone: A tone that is not clear

Zeitmass: tempo


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