Nowadays, the average string player is able to balance many leisurely activities with the playing of a stringed instrument. We go about our normal lives, putting in a little practice time here and there, walking to the coffee shop, laughing at wind player jokes with our friends, and discussing our favorite bowings and fingerings for the Kreutzer etudes. Being a string player in today’s day and age is a relatively safe and easy feat, especially when you consider that less than 1 out of 10 string players has to fight off a an animated corpse on a regular basis (concert critics not included).
Music is an artificial creation. Often described as the highest form of art, it has nothing close to a natural existence but for the songs of birds and the movement of the planets. Its structure, elements, and substance are all born from human creativity. Every time music takes place, it is a new expression of centuries of influence being funneled through, and reconstructed by, an artist or collaborative group of artists. Only in the past century or so has the audio recording of music played a role in its propagation. Without audio recording, its only media for survival is an individual’s memory and written notation – the latter being the ultimate form for most works beyond traditional folk music. Without notation, great works of sufficient complexity simply couldn’t exist outside of the composer’s mind. However, the ability to write music by hand is going extinct as a pedagogical tool, and with it, the creative voice of each passing generation of musicians.
It's a CUSHY case cover, and it just wants to give you and your instrument a hug.
The new and improved CUSHY© Deluxe Carry-All™ Backpack Case Covers are now available to fit over violin and viola, shaped and oblong cases! Our top product designers teamed up with leading backpack manufacturers to bring you a quality product that optimizes comfort, protection, and durability. It shouldn’t be a mystery why "CUSHY" is an appropriate name for these bodacious guardians of your precious cargo. They, like a forcefield of cushy goodness, repel the forces of nature that seek to destroy your instrument and wear out your case. All the while, it offers you a warm and soft embrace, making your commute comfortable and hands-free. However, here’s a few names we did NOT give to The CUSHY© and why:
We’ve always loved the Children’s Music Series here at SHAR, but we recently realized that very few people outside of SHAR know much about the author of this excellent series. We came across this thread on Violinist.com about the author, Evelyn Bedient Avsharian. In the thread, the person posted the question: “Does anyone know exactly who Evelyn Avsharian is? I have used many of her books but I can't find any information about her!” We thought it was time that the violin community knew more about this remarkable person who was a violinist, teacher, wife and mother. We sat down with Evelyn Bedient Avsharian’s widower, Michael Avsharian, Jr. to ask him more about his late wife. The following blog in her memory is based on an interview we had with him.
Most of us remember how tricky it was to learn to ride a bicycle. Falling down, scraping our knees, running into trees, or even the neighbor’s carefully trimmed hedges. Or maybe that memory is too far in the past for you, but you do remember teaching your son or daughter how to ride a bicycle. After privately chuckling to yourself the first few times they wobble and stutter, you probably encouraged them to try again. And if they were still having a really hard time, you probably suggested, “Let’s install some training wheels for you.” Sometimes a little extra help from training wheels makes things a lot easier. Similarly, it makes sense to use “training wheels” to help us learn to play an instrument, something that’s arguably far more difficult than learning to ride a bike.
Sometimes, a name is just a name. But with our new Franz Hoffman Koe violin, we wanted a name that would capture the feeling of first learning to play—really play—the violin. “Koe” means “voice” in Japanese. Its Japanese character can also be interpreted as a cry, or a note. Along with its craftsmanship, this violin’s name was carefully and thoughtfully considered—we at SHAR definitely took a long time to decide on it! We decided on Koe with this question in mind: What does it mean to have a voice in music?
Have you ever caught your child sneaking some salty food straight out of the bag or jar, snacking in an attempt to procrastinate before practicing? Maybe not, but I once had a student who loved pickles and would eat them right out of the jar before picking up his violin. It took his mom a few months to figure out why his violin strings kept wearing out so quickly, forcing her to purchase strings more frequently than other students of mine. His fingers would still be sticky with pickle juice, which corroded the violin strings. Does this sound anything like your son or daughter? Let’s face it, kids can be messy. They might not realize that strings and instrument varnish are sensitive, and that replacing or fixing them is pricey.
How far could you kayak down the river if you didn’t have a paddle? When you’re out on the water, you might notice the cicadas and the tug of the current, but you’re probably not paying really close attention to what’s in your hands. It’s likely that you take your paddle for granted, how useful and powerful of a tool it is. It’s also likely that you probably spent a lot of time choosing and purchasing your kayak, but not quite as much choosing your paddle. If you want to go far—or anywhere at all—you definitely need a good paddle for your kayak. And not all paddle blades are created equal: some of them are made from wood; others are made from aluminum; there are even fiberglass and carbon fiber paddles. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but one thing is for certain: you need a good one if you’re going to be able to kayak anywhere at all.
When I travel, I enjoy people-watching.
I’ve clocked many hours in airports over the years: flying back and forth between college and my folks’ home during school breaks; long distance relationships; heading to other cities for performances or competitions. Through all my time in airports, I’ve had ample opportunities to people watch, and I’ve noticed something.