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.
You’ve seen your child through the many stages of learning the violin. The cardboard box violin. The struggle to use the correct bowings and fingerings. Conquering scales and new songs. You’ve watched them grow into a little musician. Maybe they’re beginning to vibrate or learning to shift. Perhaps they have joined their first orchestra or begun playing duets with friends. As they face more difficult repertoire and begin transitioning into ensembles, you couldn’t be more proud. Isn’t it time you considered rewarding your child’s commitment with a better instrument?
Have you ever lost track of time while on a hike? You’re marveling at the beauty of trees, streams, and mountains, feeling downright absorbed by nature for what feels like at least 2 hours—only to discover that 4 hours have passed? Or have you ever noticed that time truly does fly when you’re binge-watching all five seasons of Game of Thrones? Or playing Xbox for what seems like 30 minutes, only to discover that you’ve been at it for 5 hours, when you should have been practicing?
If you can relate to any of these scenarios, it’s because you—just like me and every other musician out there—have a perception of time that is less than 100% accurate. This results in having less than completely perfect rhythm. It’s a challenge for beginner violinists and professional string players alike, one that only becomes more painfully obvious the longer we work at honing our craft. What can we do about this? We can—you guessed it—use a metronome to improve our rhythm, or perception of time.
Melissa Lusk is co-author of The Violin Recital Album, a companion publication to the Sassmannshaus Early Start on the Violin series. She is a violinist and a violist. Her hobbies include gardening, composting, vermiculture, sewing and now weaving. She is married to Kurt Sassmannshaus.
There's a lot that can go wrong at a wedding, so wedding music should be the last thing the couple has to fret over. However, if you're the musician gigging at a wedding, it is your temporary raison d’etre. Besides the wedding party and the officiant, the musicians are the only other people on display, visible and involved in the proceedings of the ceremony. You have to showcase your talent and musicianship while at the same time tailoring the music to fit the timing at the altar; you must perform in an unusual space, and sometimes sight-read with musicians with whom you've never worked before; and you have to account for the weather and changes in programming. Luckily, having the right accessories can help you avoid minor and major embarrassments at your next wedding gig. Below are some music accessories (and tips) that are, simply put, essential to having a successful wedding season.
Think you know how to play Brahms? Douglas Woodfull-Harris, Editor for Orchestral and Chamber Music at Bärenreiter, gives us a preview of "the overwhelming amount of vital information" contained in the new Bärenreiter Urtext editions of Brahms. If you're serious about Brahms, or performance of Romantic music, you'll want to get your hands on these new titles from Bärenreiter.