Congratulations, Emily Chisholm!

We love hearing success stories from performers throughout the nation playing on Kennedy Violins instruments. Congratulations to Emily Chisholm from Porter, Indiana, who recently performed and scored gold in her first competition held by the Indiana State School Music Association!

Emily Chisholm scores gold in the Indiana State School Music Association competition.
Emily Chisholm scores gold in the Indiana State School Music Association competition.

Emily plays on our most popular instrument, the Ricard Bunnel G2 Violin. In the words of her mother, Michelle, “She loves it and we couldn’t be happier!”

We are so thrilled to hear about Emily’s musical achievements with the Bunnel and wish her the best as she continues her musical journey!


Have you had a positive experience with your Kennedy Violins instrument? Email your story to liz@kennedyviolins to share on our blog!

Jayden Halverson Wins Wisconsin State Fair Junior Fiddler’s Contest on a Kennedy Violins Gerard

Congratulations to twelve-year-old fiddler Jayden Halverson for winning first prize in the 2015 Wisconsin State Fair Junior Fiddler’s Contest! Jayden is in her fourth year playing the violin, currently studying Suzuki Violin School, Volume 4.

We are proud to share that her winning performance was played on one of our favorite instruments, Kennedy Violins’ Anton Gerard Violin. We hope the Gerard continues to support Jayden throughout her bright future as an award-winning musician.

Gerard Violin
Jayden Halverson and her violin teacher, Kathy, hold her first-prize award and blue ribbon after winning the Wisconsin State Fair fiddling contest.

We would also like to thank Jayden’s father for sharing Jayden’s success and satistfaction with the Gerard with us:

“We are so amazed by the sound of [the Anton Gerard Violin]. Directly out of the mail the instrument sounded so wonderful and played so smoothly. I was amazed that after a few months of playing the sound just keeps getting more depth and soul. Not only does it sound amazing, but the finish and one-piece back make this violin look as rich as it sounds. My daughter absolutely loves her Gerard! She took this fine violin all the way to the winner’s circle. This year she and her Kennedy violin won first place in the Wisconsin State Fair fiddling contest. ”

– Chad Halverson

Again, congratulations to Jayden! May your musical journey lead you to even greater heights.

Sincerely,

The Kennedy Violins Staff

It’s Coming…5th Annual Photo Contest!

Photo by Michele Wiler Kolbas
3rd Annual Photo Contest Artistic Winner, Michele Wiler Kolbas

Get Ready!  Our Annual photo contest has been a favorite of KV staff and fans for several years.  We are so excited to start it up again!

Theme: Musical Bucket List

While working at Kennedy Violins, we don’t just have the opportunity to provide our customers with the instrument that is best suited for their needs, we also have the privilege of helping many people start a new musical journey.  As well as, accomplishing long held personal goals.  This year, we’d love to see photos portraying how playing a stringed instrument has allowed you to mark things off of your “Bucket List.”  What have you learned?  Where has it taken you?  What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

The contest kicks off at 12:00 am PST on August 24th and ends at  11:59pm PST September 30th.   From our entries, three winners will be selected.  A second runner up will receive  $5in store credit,  the first runner up will receive  $100 in store credit, and a grand prize winner will receive a $200 in store credit.  The winners will also be featured in the Kennedy Violins blog and monthly newsletter.

Entering the contest is super easy!  There are two ways.

1.) Post the photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #musicalbucketlist and tagging Kennedy Violins. *Important:  the picture must be public for us to see it and include it in the contest.* 

2.) E-mail us at photocontest@kennedyviolins.com.  Please include the full name and contact information of the photographer.

The Official Photo Contest Rules are listed below.  Feel free to e-mail or call us if you have any questions.

Brent Jacobson's Winning Photo.
4th Annual Photo Contest Winner, Brent Jacobson

Photo Contest Rules

Term: 
Kennedy Violins, Inc. 5th Annual Photo Contest begins at 12:00 am PST on August 24th and ends 11:59pm PST September 30th. By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest.

Who may enter:
Any resident of the United States of America or Canada—except for individuals affiliated with the Kennedy Violins, Inc., including employees, interns, volunteers, and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses) and others living in their households—are eligible.  Kennedy Violins, Inc. will determine winners’ eligibility in its sole discretion.

What to enter:
The theme of the 5th Annual Photo Contest is “Musical Bucket List”  The content of the photo must be linked to the theme.

How to enter:
Please submit photographs through our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KennedyViolins, Twitter, or on Instagram.  Any entry must tag Kennedy Violins in the photo and contain the hashtag #musicalbucketlist to be valid.  All entries submitted through social media must adhere to the rules of each individual platform.  Any entry submitted through e-mail must include the photographer’s name and contact information.  No entries sent through mail will be accepted.

High-quality scans of non-digital photographs are acceptable. Digital photographs should be taken at the highest resolution possible. Photographs must be in a .jpeg, .jpg or .gif format.

Kennedy Violins, Inc. reserves the right to disqualify incomplete entries and/or contestants who are unable to submit the correct format.

Entry deadline: 
All entries must be received through the Kennedy Violins, Inc web site by 11:59PM Pacific Time on September 30th, 2015.

Judging:
Judging of the annual contest will be conducted by a panel of experts selected by Kennedy Violins, Inc. Winning photographs will be announced on social media and Kennedy Violins’ blog in October 2015. Decisions of the judges will be final.

The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. Kennedy Violins, Inc. reserves the right to cancel the contest or modify these rules at its discretion. Decisions of Kennedy Violins, Inc. will be final.

Prizes:

Three prizes will be awarded and will be selected from all eligible entrants.

The grand prize winner will receive: $200 store credit.

The first runner-up will receive: $100 store credit.

The second runner-up will receive: $50 store credit.

Final Disclaimer:

By entering the contest, entrants grant the Kennedy Violins, Inc. a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the entries, in whole or in part, in any media now existing or subsequently developed, for any educational, promotional, publicity, exhibition, archival, scholarly and all other standard purposes.  Any photograph reproduced will include a photographer credit as feasible.  Kennedy Violins, Inc. will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such uses.

Forget the Map at Home!

A Guide to Improvisation, by Katie Lubiens

You don't need sheet music on this journey.
You don’t need sheet music on this journey.

Improvising? That sounds scary! Making up the music as you go? But where’s the sheet music? Who even improvises anyway?

As a classical violinist, these were all questions I asked myself when confronted with the thought of improvising.  I never was taught to improvise.  As classical musicians, we always have our sheet music to guide us, to show us the direction we should go.  Going forward into the musical realm without sheet music seems like going on a roadtrip without a map.  Where do I go?

Surprisingly, I’ve discovered, improving is all around us as musicians.  Even classical musicians improvise, too!  There are so many musical genres to experiment with which do teach you to improvise and foster those creative juices that make new music happen.  From blues jams to Irish sessiuns, from jazz club improvs to bluegrass jam outs, there are endless outlets for practicing improvisation.  Without sheet music, how do we know what to play?   Especially when improvising with other musicians.

Katie Lubiens performing with The Seseseisiunists.
Katie Lubiens performing with The Seseseisiunists.

Here are a few pointers when learning to improvise: 

  1. The most important thing to know is what key you are playing in.  It can sound great when everyone is playing something completely different, but they must be playing their own unique parts in the same key for it to work.
  2. Think of the scale, then play itterations of the scale.  I like to play the scale aloud before trying any kind of improvising so I really get the notes in my ear and fingers.  Then try playing the scale up and down, jumping around with different arpeggios, and always keeping the tonic, dominant and 7th in mind.
  3. Take turns.  Most improv music works best when everyone takes turns being the melody.  When it’s not your turn at the melody be sure to keep the energy up.  Long notes mixed with off beat rhythms are easy on the tonic or dominant.
  4. Practice some cool licks at home.  Most improv artists aren’t actually making it up as they go.  Usually, they have practiced some licks which they made up at home and can transcribe them into any key to play while performing in an improvising scenario.
  5. Perfection is not the point.  Improvising teaches you to be adaptable.  Adapting to your current musical situation makes you a stronger player and shows you that the imperfections are what make improvising so thrilling.
  6. Don’t be afraid!  Although you can feel put on the spot while improvising, recognize that everyone else recognizes that you are improvising.  It is not meant to be perfect.  Once you get used to improvising, you will begin to feel the powerful energy in making up music with your peers as you go.

Like anything, improvising gets better the more you do it.  I promise you, if you try you, will find that creating your own music with others in the moment is one of the best adventures you can embark upon. The moment when you close your eyes and listen to yourself creating music together, making it up as you go, and you hear that it sounds beautiful and harmonious, you will find pride in yourself like never before.  So, go ahead, make up the directions to your next adventure and forget the map at home!

**Check back soon for more in depth imrpovising tools and tips!

Kennedy Violins Celebrates 15 Years!

This month marks Kennedy Violins’ 15th Anniversary!

15 years ago, Joel Kennedy started Kennedy Violins in order to create a platform to provide high-quality instruments for his own string students, who often showed up at lessons with instruments  that were barely playable.

What started off as a homemade webpage in the Pacific Northwest has grown into a business that features luthiers from all over the world and serves string players all over the world.   All the while, we have  maintained a staff of string players that provide our customers with quality service along with quality instruments.

We’ve compiled photos chronicling our 15 years of growth and change.  Take a stroll down memory lane with us and comment on your favorite Kennedy Violins moment.

Thank you for being a part of our first fifteen years.  We can’t wait to see what the future brings for us!

Face to Face with Jeff from Kennedy Violins

Today we go all the way to the back of the shop and meet one of our luthiers on staff: Jeff Pomerantz.   Jeff is not only a talented luthier, he is also a very talented guitarist with a degree in Music Business.   Which means our customers can not only get quality string instruments from Jeff but, quality guitar lessons as well.

Jeff Pomerantz, Portland guitarist
Jeff Pomerantz, Portland guitarist

1. How long have you worked at Kennedy Violins?   Since June of 2014

2. What is your favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins and why?  It would have to be a combination of learning about instrument setup/repair and the sense of community with the people I work with.   We all get along well, for the most part, which makes me look forward to coming to work everyday.

3. What is your favorite instrument that Kennedy Violins carries and why?  I like the Vitacek violin because of the unique sunburst finish and louder, present sound. It really stands out

Mikhail Vitacek Violin Outfit from Kennedy Violins
Mikhail Vitacek Violin Outfit from Kennedy Violins

4. What is your favorite band or musician?  As far as bands; hands down, Led Zeppelin.  My favorite musician changes with every season, and sometimes every week.

I rediscovered Paul Simon this past summer, but now that its raining all the time around here, Im really getting into a fall mood listening to Kaki King.

5. If you didn’t play the guitar, which instrument would you play?  Saxophone?  Sousaphone, Triangle. Yep, Triangle.

6. Which musician (alive or dead) do you wish you could play with?  Julian Bream

Julian Bream
Julian Bream

7. What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming year?   Whatever projects/music I may find or become apart of…

8. What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working at Kennedy Violins?  Either playing music, hiking, or going to shows around Portland

Face to Face with Ivy from Kennedy Violins

Even though our store is named Kennedy Violins, we do have some fabulous cellists on staff.  Ivy Rhee holds a MM from New England Conservatory and a BM from New York University.  She has performed with members from the Vienna Philharmonic, Tokyo String Quartet, and even R & B artist Chris Brown.   Ivy is one of our cello specialists and one of our cello teachersWe are so pleased that Ivy is a part of the KV family.

Ivy Rhee performing with William Connell this past Spring.
Ivy Rhee performing with William Connell this past Spring.

1. How long have you worked at Kennedy Violins?  Since June.

2. What is your favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins and why?  My favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins is teaching.  It’s always fun and interesting!

3. What is your favorite instrument/product that Kennedy Violins carries and why?  My favorite thing is Andrea Cello Rosin.  I <3 it!

Andrea Cello Rosin
Andrea Cello Rosin

4. What is your favorite band/musician/composer?  My favorites are Prokofiev, Gary Hoffman, The Alban Berg Quartet, Julian Casablancas, Sam Cooke, and Lou Reed.

5. If you didn’t play the cello, which instrument would you play?  I think I would want to play the violin.  Some of the repertoire is really fantastic!

6. Which musician (alive or dead) do you wish you could play with  Sviatoslav Richter

A Photo of  Sviatoslav Richter from 1958 in "Muzsika," a Hungarian magazine.
A Photo of Sviatoslav Richter from 1958 in “Muzsika,” a Hungarian magazine.

7. What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming year?  I’m looking forward to Halloween, the new Chestnut Praline Latte Starbucks is coming out with, and snow days.

8. What is something interesting that we don’t already know about you?  I’ve eaten silkworm pupae out of a can and I’m super flexible.

9. What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working at Kennedy Violins?  Riding my bike outside or a good book.

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