The history of the violin is a bit like the evolution of a migratory species. It didn't come about all in one place or all at one time; various factors influenced it's changes over centuries, and in many ways we are still writing the violin's history today, all over the world. Still, there are pivotal moments in the history of the way violins are made. One very important time and place in the influence of almost every instrument made today was 19th-Century France. Knowing a bit about violin-making in France might help you to know a bit more about your own instrument, and will certainly help anyone interested in buying a fine violin, viola, or cello to understand the wide variety in age, style, sound, and price of what's on the market.
Author, mom, and Suzuki teacher Christine Goodner previously writes on her Suzuki Triangle blog, about how parents (not the physical space) are their children’s practice environment. Here she shares with us the the 3 minute process that can radically change how productive and positive your practice sessions with your child are. She writes...
I consider these few valuable minutes to be the most important thing you can do that will set up your practice environment for success. This is a practice I developed with my own children and I go through it mentally before each student that I teach as well.
Of the four strings on the violin, the E-string is unique. With the exception of baroque violin E-strings, which are generally made from plain gut, the violin E-string is made from steel, offering very different characteristics than the other three strings. However, that’s just for starters – the type of steel, the alloys used, plating materials, windings – all contribute to the vast variety that allows violinists to choose their preferred string, for whatever reasons they wish.
"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.
“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.
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.
For many years now, SHAR has carried the much-loved method book series Adventures in Violinland by Shirley Givens. Because of the esteem we have for Shirley, it's a great honor to offer her a space on our blog to answer a question that those of you encountering her well-respected series for the first time might have: "Why should I try Adventures in Violinland?"
In my experience, young children love the violin! It is small and huggable—and it makes sounds! How can we nurture this initial enthusiasm for the instrument and transform it into a deeper love of music? My books aim to respond, successfully, to that question.
Alexandra Ostroff, one our Customer Service Leads, talks about her experience this past week at the Phoenix Phest Suzuki Teacher Training seminar. Alexandra is clearly developing into a talented teacher; what I love most about her blog post is how open she is to learning from those around her.
This past week I took some time away from my desk and returned to Phoenix Phest in Ypsilanti, MI to continue my education in teaching the Suzuki Method. This blog entry will share some of the highlights for me from this week’s institute.
In this guest blog, SHAR customer Paul Dittus asks the question "Why should anyone study music and why is it important?" His answer is a suprising one: drawing on arguments from classical philosophy, Paul argues that at its best music can connect us to beauty and truth. While not ignoring the dire employment opportunities for musicians, Paul reminds us that music is more than employment: it is enduring beauty. Note: This guest article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of SHAR Music.
Why should anyone care to study music? For a large income and a good job, right? In today’s economy you would probably be better off pursuing a degree to become a doctor or lawyer. If money is really what you prize, maybe you should consider pursuing something other than music. I would say getting a degree in music should help you get a job, but I do not believe it should be your ultimate goal and purpose for pursuing a music degree. What about fame? There are not many guarantees in this world, and fame is one that is not easily come by. Unless you are going to be the next “fiddler on the roof” and become a hit, you should probably not count your chickens before they hatch. This is not to say you shouldn’t dream big and set your goals high, it is more to make sure you are pursuing music for a solid reasons. If not for money or fame, why study music and why is it important?