After enjoyably perusing the many impressive coloring, photo, and design submissions by our talented customers, we have made the difficult deliberation of which entries are the winners of SHAR's April 2017 Show and Tell Contests! Contestants ranged in age from 23 months old to 84 years! Many submissions came accompanied with happy stories of families participating together (like a 4 year old and his 2 year old brother tag-teaming the coloring template) and students cherishing years of growth thanks to their teachers! We feel that these are the greatest rewards of the contest, but nevertheless, it is time to award our gift certificates to the artists who we judged to demonstrate the greatest creativity, dedication, attention to detail, and thoughtfulness in their work. We hope you enjoy looking through these as much as we did!
The children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” has been used over the last sixty years to teach young children anatomy and to get them moving as they point to each part. The tune is actually a good advertisement for how we, as violinists and violists, should make use of our bodies as we play—from the top of our heads down to the soles of our feet. However, movement sometimes is derailed because we have
chosen non-ergonomic equipment, especially in our choice of chinrests and shoulder pads.
[This article, by Lynne Denig was originally published in American String Teacher, Vol. 67, No. 1, © 2017 by American String Teachers Association. It has been formatted for our blog page with permission. Click to read the whole article!]
"He was engaged, identifying where he needed to improve, and giving up the small flashy upgrades so he could be a stronger player in the long run. The rewards were clear, and he was determined to reach the next level and win. How can we use this natural ambition for games to inspire students to be passionate learners?"
Neil Fong Gilfillan is a Suzuki cello teacher in Frisco Texas. He and his wife Rachel Samson on viola/violin run Chili Dog Strings, the only string studio in Frisco named after a dog. SHAR is happy to have their permission to share two blogs originally posted on their strings studio blog page, Think Like A Gamer: Power Up Your String Player Stats, by Neil Fong Gilfillan, and High Definition for the Practicing Parent, by Rachel Samson. Both of these blogs highlight the importance of parents and teachers reaching out at the level of the student to set goals that are both manageable and motivational.
Are you the parent of a young string player? This blog will really help YOU with your child's practice. Rachel Samson is a Suzuki viola/violin teacher in Frisco Texas. She and her husband Neil Fong Gilfillan (cello) run Chili Dog Strings, the only string studio in Frisco named after a dog. SHAR is happy to have their permission to share two blogs originally posted on their strings studio blog page, Think Like A Gamer: Power Up Your String Player Stats, by Neil Fong Gilfillan, and High Definition for the Practicing Parent, by Rachel Samson. Both of these blogs highlight the importance of parents and teachers reaching out at the level of the student to set goals that are both manageable and motivational.
Ever feel like you're only getting a fraction of the work done at home that your teacher outlines in the lesson? Sometimes the “How” of home practice is somewhat of a mystery, or at the very least, unclear. Let’s explore how to give your practice more clarity and definition to keep you on track with your teacher’s assignments and your child’s accomplishments.
“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” - Plato
This article by Theodore Buchholz, Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Arizona, was originally published in the fall of 2014, but continues to be shared as an important message to parents who may be enrolling their children into schools and courses in the coming months. It has been formatted onto the SHAR Blog with permission from Theodore Buchholz.
There have been rumors about counterfeit strings for violin, viola, cello, and bass infiltrating the market for at least a decade. When I heard of "counterfeit strings", I mostly imagined packaging that looked like it came out of an Inkjet printer, and obviously cheap strings with noticeably altered thread colorations. As popular brands of strings continued to pop up online at wildly low prices, it was time to do some deep investigating. What SHAR found was very troubling: obviously inferior strings of unknown composition and origin, with nearly perfect packaging and presentation. SHAR began buying up these strings, dissecting them, showing them to manufacturers, and searching for the source of these knock-offs, which led us across three continents and deep into the shadowy world of counterfeit products and online marketplaces.
“Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness.” - Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark
Artists know all about refinement. This is a large part of what we do every day, constantly retooling our craft, whether it is bouncing a bow on the string just the right way or getting the lighting to work beautifully on a portrait. The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of refinement for this purpose is: “the improvement or clarification of something by the making of small changes.” As important as minute, delicate changes are to perfecting a skill for artists, the kind of refinement Willa Cather suggests is far larger and more complex. I read her statement as addressing a more holistic honing, the refinement process of which helps us to become more authentically ourselves in the world.
Have you ever been to an Irish pub or special gathering where a small circle of people pulled out their various instruments and just started playing, without pause, energetic and mythical sounding sets of tunes that just turn and turn into the night? The group may be as small as two people, or as large as a small orchestra, and while some people may be close friends, others are total strangers. What they all have in common are their memorization of dozens, sometimes hundreds of tunes, all shared in a common ancestry - not hereditary, but simply musical. If you play a stringed instrument and haven't been a part of what is most often called Irish session music, you absolutely must, and this St. Patrick's Day is a great opportunity. If you are hooked on Celtic fiddling, a tune book and some advice will help you in becoming one of that timeless circle of musicians.
The ability to explain complex and difficult concepts in a way that can be clearly understood and successfully acted on is the hallmark of great teaching. Combined with motivation, student success is assured!
Every teaching method has its merits, whether it’s Suzuki, O’Connor, Sassmannshaus, Essential Elements, Maia Bang, ABC’s, All for Strings, Whistler, or others. As a teacher, you know that regardless of what teaching method you employ, without a teacher guiding the student, the student is not likely to succeed. And because each student is unique, only the teacher is able to determine if supplemental materials may be required, to focus on specific areas of need.
The advent, or rather the evolution of the steel violin e-string over a century ago brought violinists to new heights in their playing. The stablity and thinness of a steel wire allowed for greater brilliance, intonation, and speed. However, with the loss of gut's sweetness and warmth, further refining and improving the capabilities and characteristics of steel E strings is still an endless pursuit of string makers today. More than just a simple steel wire, the full composition and manufacturing method of steel strings involves trade secrets, precious metals, and very high tolerances! The nuances of response, feel, tension, and volume make choosing the right E-string an adventageous feat for musicians today. We sat down with SHAR CEO, Charles Avsharian, to discuss E-Strings for violinists.