Exploring the Undeniable Non-Musical Benefits of Learning to Play the Violin border=0 align=

Exploring the Undeniable Non-Musical Benefits of Learning to Play the Violin

February 25, 2021, 2:01 PM · The best thing about learning to play the violin - or any other musical instrument - is that after all those lessons and practice, you can play the violin! But that long learning process also confers undeniable benefits in other areas of life. It's important to acknowledge and sing the praises of those benefits, too, especially in a time where instrumental music education is routinely dismissed as an "extra."

No other activity offers the union of skills and disciplines that instrumental music does, requiring physical coordination, communication, math, discipline, memory and more. In fact, scientific studies have shown that playing an instrument literally "engages every major part of the central nervous system," using both the right and left sides of the brain.

Here are a few of the specific ways that learning an instrument can affect one's overall abilities and life perspective. Keep reading...

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Violin Breakfast: A Community Feast of Fundamentals

February 23, 2021, 6:04 PM · When my daughter Ava was 5, she told us at breakfast that she felt the violin might be lonely in the next room while we ate our delicious food. After all, it was the most important meal of the day, right?

So, on a whim, I said we could take our breakfast to the next room to play some open strings and give the violin some company. This was the day Violin Breakfast was born in our family.

But here’s what I didn’t know at the time…I didn’t know it would start our morning off with beauty and connection. I didn't realize how much I could enjoy simple open string exercises and the uncomplicated sound of my own instrument. And I didn’t know it would end up being the biggest factor to my daughter’s progress and long-term happiness on the instrument. Here we are, five years later, and we are still doing our morning fundamentals... only now they have gotten a little more difficult and a LOT more fun.

I also didn't know that it would grow into an online community that has sustained our motivation through the pandemic.

BELOW: Here is the huge celebration we had for our 250th "Violin Breakfast" class, which I did live on Facebook:

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How to Prepare for Recorded Music Exams and Auditions

February 20, 2021, 10:43 PM · A new season is coming - and that means recorded performance exams and youth orchestra auditions. While the pandemic persists, most organizations are keeping things online this spring. Based on my experiences preparing my students for auditions and American String Teachers Association Certificate Advancement Program (ASTACAP) exams, and as an online examiner for ASTACAP, I've compiled a short list of tips to help you create the best recording possible for your exams and/or auditions.
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Strengthening Spiccato's Structure: Bouncy Landings that are Graceful

February 20, 2021, 6:04 PM · Does spiccato seem like a risky bowing? Are you more likely to crack the sound and shatter the string on impact rather than bounce on and off the string elegantly? Since playing off the string is part of a violinist’s bread and butter, learning how to trust it and rely on it is up there with playing in tune and shifting well. Some bowings, like a fast up-bow (or down-bow) staccato, you can take or leave, depending on the degree of virtuosity you’re aspiring to. On the other hand, spiccato is worth pursuing.

I was in middle age when I realized my techniques would not be described satisfactorily by any one method. The step-by-step processes that chess players learn do not exist in music, not in the cold realities of technique nor in the aesthetics of musicality.

A manual for spiccato wasn’t available, and it also wasn’t what I needed. Instead, I had to figure out how to bounce, engage the string at the moment of the bounce, and revert to detaché without crashing. When I entered the world of spiccato, my detachés weren’t even all that hot. So I needed to do some remedial training to shore up that technique. It turned out to be a slow learning curve, but with positive results. Keep reading...

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