Toward the end of May this year, SHAR sent out information introducing our first ever SHAR Coloring Contest. We really had no idea what the response would be, but after discussing the recent coloring book craze that has become popular among kids and adults alike, we decided that it might be a fun opportunity to engage with the string community in a less typical way. As the first several submissions came in only a few days after opening the contest to the public, we were already elated by the positive response. As days went by, we were graciously overwhelmed as several entries became dozens, became hundreds, and finally we counted our total entries in the thousands! Over 900 people of all ages and from all over the world sent in their colorful pages – people from every state in the USA, some from Japan, New Zealand, Israel, and more! We began by hanging every one on our office walls, until there became so many we simply had to let our bewildered coworkers page through the stacks, marvelling at the diversity and quality of the entries.
What do string players in Florida buy that those in Wisconsin don't? When putting together our catalog of products, SHAR always keeps in mind that every product we carry is the right product for someone out there. There are ubiquitous best-selling products that are popular no matter where you live, but it becomes interesting when we see the geographical diversity of our customers play out in the popularity of certain items! We decided to find out which item is the most uniquely popular to each state, and make an interactive map that links to each item. Basically, each selection represents the one item that was more popular in your state than any other in 2015. You may or may not be surprised, and maybe you've already bought one!
Topics: For Fun
UPDATE: The SHAR 2016 Coloring Contest has come to an end, and the winners were selected! View the winning entries and read more about this very popular contest here.
What do performing music and coloring have in common? Well, I think a lot, actually. Approaching a composed piece of music with your instrument, like a Mozart concerto for example, is like opening your crayons or color pencils before a blank black-and-white coloring page. In front of you is already a work of art, but it isn't yet "alive". It is merely the outline, and you must add the colors! Still, unlike improvisation or free drawing, there are instructions and expectations. You must color within the lines - use your own creative expression to add to the style and form of what you are coloring, just as you must respect Mozart's chosen notes and markings but still influence the music with your artistry. In the end, the final presentation is your own!
Topics: For Fun
Sometimes buying strings for your violin, viola, cello, or bass, is just a matter of reordering the same strings that you've loved for ages. The reliable set that has always sounded great on your instrument might be all you need for the rest of your life. However, sometimes a new instrument, or just curiosity will lead you on a search for the new perfect set of strings. Or, perhaps a change in playing ability or budget will lead you to look for a new sound. There are a lot of different brands and types of strings to choose from, so find a good source to start from can be time-saving first step. With so many new brands on the market, it's hard to just stumble upon the right one by chance or by word of mouth.
Last fall I wrote a blog on the importance of students (and experienced musicians for that matter) learning to write music, and not just learning to read notes. The act of putting pencil to paper in the musical arena is one of great importance - and in a quite simple and straightforward sense. Yes, one of the most powerful gestures a person can make is to create, and creating music is by and large one of the pinacles of human artistic acheivement. However, there is more to creating music than composing. If simply leaving your mark in this world through a written masterpiece of divine inspiration was the only need to ever pick up a pencil as a musician, most of us probably would never have done so. Yet, we are all familiar with the role of the pencil in string player's arsenal, because the traditional tools for composing masterpieces have also always had a much more practical role in making music - notes and markings.
Is your violin, viola, cello, or bass rattling or buzzing? Does it make these noises only on certain strings or notes?
The start of a New Year is commonly a time in which people feel encouraged to better themselves, take on new adventures, or kick a bad habit. We all hear about the flood of new gym memberships, but what about new years resolutions in the practice room? Well, in case you haven't made up your mind on what your resolution might be, here are some ideas. Plus, feel free to share your resolution in the comments!