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Introducing the SHAR Music Coloring Book Contest!

Posted by James Engman on May 24, 2016 12:40:04 PM

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!

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Topics: For Fun

Looking to buy a new set of strings?

Posted by Staff Writer on Apr 12, 2016 1:37:40 PM

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.

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Topics: Violin, Viola, Cello, Strings, Bass

Blackwing - The Music Pencil

Posted by James Engman on Mar 29, 2016 2:59:12 PM

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.

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Topics: Accessories, Blackwing Pencils

Why is my stringed instrument buzzing and rattling?

Posted by James Engman on Mar 16, 2016 3:10:05 PM

Is your violin, viola, cello, or bass rattling or buzzing? Does it make these noises only on certain strings or notes?

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Topics: Violin, Instrument Repair, Viola, Cello, Bass, Instrument Care, Troubleshooting

"A Heavenly Length" by Arnold Steinhardt

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jan 11, 2016 10:41:24 AM

The Guarneri String Quartet (photo by Erwin Fischer) and Charles Avsharian

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Topics: Chamber music, Schubert, Arnold Steinhardt

New Years Resolutions for the string player

Posted by James Engman on Jan 5, 2016 2:08:17 PM

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!

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Topics: Practice, For Fun

Investment Grade Violins at SHAR USA and China

Posted by Charles Avsharian on Nov 25, 2015 2:27:36 PM

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Topics: Violin, Viola, SHAR, Cello, China, In Home Trial, Charles Avsharian, Bass, SHAR Ann Arbor

How to survive the Zombie Apocalypse as a string player (and maintain an acceptable practice schedule).

Posted by James Engman on Oct 30, 2015 4:44:28 PM

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).

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Topics: For Fun, Halloween, Zombie Survival

Teaching to Read, but never to Write?

Posted by James Engman on Oct 14, 2015 6:30:00 AM

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.

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Topics: Education, Teaching, Music Theory, Advice, Composers

7 Names you won't give your New Violin or Viola Cushy!

Posted by James Engman on Aug 26, 2015 3:00:00 PM

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:

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Topics: Violin, Viola, Accessories, Cases, Bags, Straps, Travel, Traveller

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