It's a scenario every beginner or intermediate string player finds themselves in at some point: either a string broke, the metal winding is unraveling, or they've simply decided better strings will make them finally sound like Anne-Sophie Mutter. I can tune my strings by now; I'm sure changing my strings is simple enough! With headstrong independence they place an order for the set they heard are really great and wait patiently for their new strings to arrive. In a few days, they tear open the package, sit down with their instrument and get started...
“. . . a master violin is an accumulation of many small steps, each carried out with painstaking care”
~ Rainer W. Leonhardt, Master Violin Maker, Mittenwald, Germany
The origins of the violin were likely rooted in India or the Far East. In fact, musical instruments that are played with a bow appear in centuries-old paintings and pottery from many different civilizations. But there is no doubt that the violin we recognize today originated in mid-1500 Cremona, Italy, more specifically from the hand of Andrea Amati. Andrea’s grandson, Nicola Amati, enlarged the pattern and refined the violin, passing his knowledge to Stradivari and Guarneri. In short order, other famous makers emerged in Cremona, Carlo Bergonzi being the most prominent. Cremona had quickly become famous throughout Europe and elsewhere. Indeed, this Golden Age of violin making produced the greatest violins the world has ever known.
It’s time for a new school year, an opportunity for a fresh start in your studio. A new crop of students is arriving, and many of your students are returning. And each student is different, with different strengths and weaknesses, different commitment levels, and different motivations. You’ve got lots of students to teach, and they need to cover a lot of ground quickly. Fortunately, you have your method books, your supplements, and especially your own experience and good sense, and that has always served you well. For most of your students.
The children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” has been used over the last sixty years to teach young children anatomy and to get them moving as they point to each part. The tune is actually a good advertisement for how we, as violinists and violists, should make use of our bodies as we play—from the top of our heads down to the soles of our feet. However, movement sometimes is derailed because we have
chosen non-ergonomic equipment, especially in our choice of chinrests and shoulder pads.
[This article, by Lynne Denig was originally published in American String Teacher, Vol. 67, No. 1, © 2017 by American String Teachers Association. It has been formatted for our blog page with permission. Click to read the whole article!]
"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.
Are you the parent of a young string player? This blog will really help YOU with your child's practice. Rachel Samson is a Suzuki viola/violin teacher in Frisco Texas. She and her husband Neil Fong Gilfillan (cello) 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.
Ever feel like you're only getting a fraction of the work done at home that your teacher outlines in the lesson? Sometimes the “How” of home practice is somewhat of a mystery, or at the very least, unclear. Let’s explore how to give your practice more clarity and definition to keep you on track with your teacher’s assignments and your child’s accomplishments.
There are days when I look over my monthly budget and just shake my head at just how much I spend on various kinds of insurance: Instrument insurance, car insurance, health insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance. It’s a never ending list! As much as I groan and complain about having to pay those monthly premiums, I know that they exist for a good reason. Insurance coverage is important, especially insurance that covers you where you need it most. If you think this blog is starting to sound like an insurance commercial, you’re right. I watched an ad on TV just the other day, and their slogan was “Know the gaps.” Meaning if there are gaps in your coverage, you should investigate that and fix it. Being a musician, I obviously thought about my instrument: do I know the gaps?
Do you want to have a gift ready for your string teacher at your first lesson after or before Christmas? Maybe you know a string player who gigs and teaches, and you want to get them something practical that they will truly enjoy, but aren't sure exactly what? These suggestions are my top picks for string players and teachers who need some finer things in their life. Tell your teacher or colleague that you appreciate their hard work and talent!
Some people are difficult to shop for, and some are near impossible. If you're lucky, the person has an interest or a hobby that you'd love to support by gifting them something related. The only problem is that you might not be sure what that something is, whether or not they need one, or if you're totally off! When it comes to advancing string players like highschool or college students, there are some gifts that might sound like a great idea, but could essentially be useless to the person if they are already particular about brands, sizes, styles, or difficulty levels. If you are having a hard time thinking of what to get for an advancing string student who has been playing for several years, then this guide should help you to know what is a safe bet, and what you might want to leave alone! Keep in mind that I don't know the person you're shopping for, and these are just general guidelines. Average price range accompanies the recommendations for reference. As long as you're giving from the heart, I'm sure they will enjoy whatever it is you find for them!