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James Engman

Recent Posts

Easy Gift Ideas for a Beginning String Player! (Part 1)

Posted by James Engman on Dec 12, 2016 6:13:36 PM

Shopping for Beginning violin, viola, cello, or bass players doesn't have be as daunting as it may seem. If you are a parent, aunt or uncle, or just a friend of a beginner or someone who wants to start playing a stringed instrument, you may have noticed that there's a lot of stuff you need to get started, and infinite variations of each! Yes, SHAR carries over 13,000 different items for string players, but this guide should help you narrow down the whole catalog to a few really great gift options, and at varying price ranges. Whether you want to buy a big gift or a stocking stuffer, there's something here that will help you check a name off your list!

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Topics: Gifts, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Christmas, Birthday Blogs

Christmas Sheet music For Strings - Part Three: Solos with Audio Accompaniment

Posted by James Engman on Nov 30, 2016 6:14:51 PM

Let's face it, piano accompanists and ensemble-ready string players don't grow on Christmas trees. Sometimes you need to put on a show for your family, friends, classmates, or coworkers, but there is no one else to team up with for a duet or ensemble. Fortunately, technology has made it possible to have a full orchestra or band backing you with the press of a button. Audio accompaniments are not only fun for playing for your own enjoyment, but they can fill the empty space around your lonely instrument and help you bring down the house. Just imagine all of the Talent TV Show contestants singing their auditions without someone "rolling the tape" backstage. It's your turn to bring down the house at your holiday gathering or Christmas concert with a track from one of these fantastic collections of Holiday music for violin, viola, or cello, or bass with audio accompaniment.

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Topics: Christmas, Violin, Viola, Sheet Music, Cello, Bass, Play-Alongs, CD Play-Alongs

Christmas Sheet Music for Strings - Part Two: Advanced String Quartets

Posted by James Engman on Nov 21, 2016 5:47:52 PM

Is your string quartet booked for any holiday gigs? Do you have a group of advanced players in your orchestra that might want to showcase a quartet at the Christmas Concert? The string quartet is one of the most enduring and popular ensembles because of its limitless possibilities in expression, tone, and dynamics. However, there is so much sheet music for string quartet floating around out there, that it can be tough to find actual good arrangements - many are poorly notated or thoughtlessly adapted from other instrumentation. When arrangements are bad, there's is often nothing that can be done to make them pleasing. To make your search much easier, I'll suggest these five books containing arrangements of Holiday tunes that go far beyond your standard sing-along carol book, and are perfectly arranged for string quartet! These are all in the intermediate to advanced difficulty range, which allows for much more interesting music than basic arrangements.I hope one of these quartet books becomes your annual musical tradition!

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Topics: Christmas, Holiday Music, String Quartet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Ensemble Playing, Flexible Ensembes

Christmas Sheet Music for Strings - Part One: Easy Flexible Ensembles

Posted by James Engman on Nov 14, 2016 1:57:27 PM

Do you have sheetmusic ready for this year’s holiday celebrations? The Holiday season is a hectic time, and if you’re in charge of getting music students ready for concerts, I certainly don’t have to tell you that. I also don’t have to tell you that if you are trying to get string players together for an ensemble - whether it’s for church, school, a charity collection at the local mall, or just for grandma’s enjoyment – you can’t be too picky about the instrumentation! The chances are slim of ending up with a standard string quartet of exactly two violins, one viola, and one cello. Publishers and arrangers know this, which is why so many have put together collections of music that can work with many assortments of violin, viola, cello, and bass. So, why not be prepared with one of these flexible ensembles that will make your Christmas, Chanukah, or other winter holiday gathering jolly? Having an assortment of this type of music can be very helpful for getting holiday season gigs on a moment’s notice, or just always being prepared for spontaneous string caroling!

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Topics: Christmas, Holiday Music, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Ensemble Playing, Flexible Ensembes

Winter Is Coming. Is your Instrument Protected?

Posted by James Engman on Oct 24, 2016 4:24:04 PM

The days are getting shorter, your heat may have already kicked in a few times, and you’re starting to look for sweaters and coats you haven’t seen in months. Winter is coming, and that means dry air that can wreak havoc on your string instrument! As vapor is lost from the air, it sucks out moisture from the wood in your instrument, causing loose pegs, lowered string height, a change in tone, and even open seams or catastrophic cracks! Luckily, it is easy to prevent major damage, and even little inconveniences like tuning problems. Here are three easy steps that will keep your instrument in great shape through the cold, dry winter.

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Topics: Humidity, Instrument Care, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass

New at SHAR - Fall 2016: Cello and Bass Strings, Electrics, Accessories, and Cases!

Posted by James Engman on Aug 27, 2016 1:35:20 PM

Since 1962, SHAR has been making new products available to string players every year. The fall season is usually when we debut most of our new products in preparation for new school years, concert seasons, and holidays! This year is no exception with dozens of new items in all categories! Whether you are an advancing student, an orchestra or private studio teacher, a full-time musician, or just getting started,  SHAR is the place to find things you know you need, or things that you didn’t even know existed but that could definitely make your life easier! Innovation and improvements are being made every day by musicians and thinkers all over the world! Below are some of the new products for cello and bass players that are included in the SHAR Fall 2016 Catalog. Check them out – there may be something for you!

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Topics: Bass, Cello, Cases, Accessories, Electric, Metronomes

New AT SHAR 2016: Violin and Viola Cases, Electrics, and Accessories

Posted by James Engman on Aug 26, 2016 2:30:23 PM

Since 1962, SHAR has been making new products available to string players every year. The fall season is usually when we debut most of our new products in preparation for new school years, concert seasons, and holidays! This year is no exception with dozens of new items in all categories! Whether you are an advancing student, an orchestra or private studio teacher, a full-time musician, or just getting started,  SHAR is the place to find things you know you need, or things that you didn’t even know existed, but could definitely make your life easier! Innovation and improvements are being made every day by musicians and thinkers all over the world! Below are some new products for violin and viola players that are included in the SHAR Fall 2016 Catalog. Check them out – there may be something for you!

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Topics: Accessories, Electric Violin, Electric, Instrument Care, Silent Violin, Mark O'Connor, Cases, Violin, Viola

SHAR Coloring Contest 2016 Winners!

Posted by James Engman on Jul 13, 2016 3:18:05 PM

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.

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Topics: For Fun, Contests

Which SHAR Product is Uniquely Popular to your State?

Posted by James Engman on May 25, 2016 10:16:03 AM

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!

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Topics: For Fun

Introducing the SHAR Music Coloring Book Contest!

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

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!

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Topics: For Fun

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