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Are You Ready to Play Irish Fiddle on St. Patrick's Day?

Posted by James Engman on Feb 23, 2017 3:18:01 PM


Have you ever been to an Irish pub or special gathering where a small circle of people pulled out their various instruments and just started playing, without pause, energetic and mythical sounding sets of tunes that just turn and turn into the night? The group may be as small as two people, or as large as a small orchestra, and while some people may be close friends, others are total strangers. What they all have in common are their memorization of dozens, sometimes hundreds of tunes, all shared in a common ancestry - not hereditary, but simply musical. If you play a stringed instrument and haven't been a part of what is most often called Irish session music, you absolutely must, and this St. Patrick's Day is a great opportunity. If you are hooked on Celtic fiddling, a tune book and some advice will help you in becoming one of that timeless circle of musicians.

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Topics: Sheet Music, For Fun, Fiddle, Ensemble Playing, Irish Fiddle

You Know You're a Busy String Musician When...

Posted by Staff Writer on Jul 29, 2016 4:39:14 PM


This is to all those who gig, teach, travel, and play - who have changed a tire in a dress or tux, who know no distance too far, no venue too unusual, and no coffee unwelcome. If you've ever glanced in the backseat to make sure you instrument and music were still there, then this list is for you.

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Topics: For Fun, Performance, Travel

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

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

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

Top Five Weirdest Violin Buskers

Posted by Alberta Barnes on Jun 19, 2012 12:34:00 PM

It's always fun to spend some time on a street corner with your instrument. But what if you add props and unusual content to your playing? These people did. Here are the top five most unusual violin buskers that I could find!

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Topics: Violin, For Fun, Busking

Violins From Around the World: Part Two

Posted by Alberta Barnes on Jun 8, 2012 7:00:00 AM

There are so many types of violins around the world that an orchestra could be filled with all of them! Here are five more exotic violins.

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Topics: Violin, For Fun

Violins from Around the World: Part One

Posted by Alberta Barnes on Jun 6, 2012 11:23:00 AM

We are all familiar with the Western violin, but what about violins from other cultures? Check out these five violins from around the world.

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Topics: Violin, For Fun

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