Brent Jacobson's Winning Photo.

WINNER ANNOUNCED! Kennedy Violins’ 4th Annual Photo Contest

About 6 weeks ago, we announced our 4th Annual Photo Contest.  This year, we made a couple of changes to the format of the contest by using social media as a platform for the contest and the hashtag #orchestralife.  We also added a challenge.  If our Facebook page reached 1,000  likes by the end of the contest, the prize would be doubled!

Well, the entries were collected and the contest closed on September 30th.  Our judges have reached a decision and the grand prize winner is…DRUMROLL…Brent Jacobson!  Check out his winning photograph below:

Brent Jacobson's Winning Photo.
Brent Jacobson’s Winning Photo.

Congrats Brent!

We also want to thank everyone that participated in the contest this year.  Every year we have the photo contest, we are so pleased to see each and every entry.

If you didn’t win, don’t fret!  More contests will be announced in the future!  If you want to see more entries from our 4th Annual Photo Contest, simply check out #orchestralife on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Photo by Michele Wiler Kolbas

Photo Contest is BACK!

And, it’s better than ever!

For our 4th annual photo contest, we wanted to shake things up a bit.

This year, we have one theme:  Orchestra Life.  Yep, whether you are a beginner in a school program or a professional in a symphony, it’s time to knuckle down and practice, practice, practice.  We want to see what orchestra life looks like to you.

The contest kicks off at 12:00 am PST on August 25th and ends at  11:59pm PST September 30th.   Three winners will be selected.  A second runner up will receive  $10 in store credit,  the first runner up will receive  $50 in store credit, and a grand prize winner will receive a $100 in store credit.  The winners will also be featured in the Kennedy Violins blog and monthly newsletter.  Click here to check out last year’s winners.

There’s a twist though!  If our Facebook page makes it to 1,000 likes, we will DOUBLE the prizes awarded to the winners.  That’s right, the second runner up will receive  $20 in store credit,  the first runner up will receive  $100 in store credit, and a grand prize winner will receive a $200 in store credit. $200!!!

We’ve also changed how to enter.  Entries may be posted on our Facebook page or through Instagram.  Entries must tag Kennedy Violins in the photo and use the hashtag #orchestralife.

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

The 2013 Photo Contest Winner, Emrah Lekiq
The 2013 Photo Contest Winner, Emrah Lekiq

Photo Contest Rules

Term: 
Kennedy Violins, Inc. 4th Annual Photo Contest begins at 12:00 am PST on August 25th 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 4th Annual Photo Contest is “Orchestra Life.”  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 or on Instagram.  Any entry must tag Kennedy Violins in the photo and contain the hashtag #orchestralife to be valid.  We do not accept photographs submitted through the mail or through e-mail.

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. Files submitted may not be larger than 2,048k (2Mb).

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

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.

Entry deadline: 
All entries must be received through the Kennedy Violins, Inc web site by 11:59PM Pacific Time on June 30, 2013.

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 kennedyviolins.com in October 2014. 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: $100 store credit.

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

The second runner-up will receive: $20 store credit.

In the event that Kennedy Violins Facebook page receives 1500 likes by the end of the contest, the prizes will double in value.

Winners must sign a release and license and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on a prize.

Photo by spettacolopuro.

Wood & Water: What If My Violin Gets Wet?

“Earth!”
“Wind”
“Fire!”
“Water!”

The Power Rangers were on to something when it comes to nature’s elements. These substances, while so simple, can wield great power alone and in combination with each other. At Kennedy Violins, you’ll find water not only for drinking, but on hand in the process of working on violins.

Water, when sealed with a finish, won't absorb water. Varnish on a violin accomplishes this purpose—at least on the exterior. (Photo by Mark Engelbrecht)
Water, when sealed with a finish, won’t absorb water. Varnish on a violin accomplishes this purpose—at least on the exterior. (Photo by Mark Engelbrecht)

Water plays a crucial role in the process of making, repairing, and setting up violins. Here are a few of its uses:

Bending Wood – An essential step in the production of the violin is bending thin strips of maple, sometimes as thin as 1mm, to the curves of the instrument. A hot bending iron is used, but without wetting the wood with a little water, the dry wood is more likely to crack, snap, or splinter without water to soften the fibers. The moisture turns to steam when it comes in contact with the wood, steaming the fibers and allowing them to bend with less risk of burning.

Carving – Wetting a piece of wood with water can make it easier to carve. The water softens the wood so it gives way to the blade of a knife or chisel more easily. Some makers will dunk the entire maple scroll into water to help the carving process along. The ends of soundposts can also be wet with water (or even dabbed with saliva from your tongue) to make the precise carving of the ends an easier process.

Gluing – Many don’t realize that the glue used to glue the pieces of a violin together is water soluble. Hide glue, an made with collagen from animal bones nd tissue, begins in granule form and is mixed and melted in water before use. The advantage of using a strong water-based glue is that pieces of wood are secured with a molecular bond, but that bond can be broken and pieces can be taken apart when the glue is softened with water or steam. Violin parts need to be able to come apart easily to make repairs possible.

Wet Sanding – Water is also used when smoothing down surfaces like the ebony fingerboard. Very fine sandpapers are used with water that absorbs the dust and provides an extremely smooth, polished surface.

Tool Sharpening – Similar to the use of wet sandpaper, water is used on water stones (named appropriately as a sharpening stone used with water) and diamond stones. Using water when sharpening metal knives, gouges, chisels, scrapers, and plane blades keeps the tiny flakes and particles of metal dust from getting everywhere—like in your eyes or in the air to be breathed in. Water can also keep the tools cooler as friction heats up the metal. Water makes the sharpening process safer.


WHEN WATER IS A PROBLEM

Water in the form of liquid, steam, or high humidity can potentially cause damage to an instrument. (Very low humidity can cause issues as well. A Damp-it instrument humidifier can protect your instrument from harshly dry conditions.)

Warping Wood and Cracks – Wood is porous and absorbs water like a sponge, whether the water is in the air or comes in contact with the wood like a liquid. Although the oil-based varnish on the exterior of the instrument repels water, the interior of the instrument is not sealed or finished wood. When wood absorbs water, it expands, which can lead to cracking, warping, or open seams.

Rain – If you’re playing an outdoor concert and suddenly get stuck in a downpour, don’t panic. Just get out of the rain as quickly as possible or tuck your instrument under your jacket. As soon as possible, dry off your instrument with a soft, dry, absorbent cloth that won’t damage the finish. (Old soft cotton t-shirts make great polishing or drying cloths.)

If the inside of the instrument has substantial amounts of water in it, shake it out and set it in a dry, warm room to air it out. Inspect your instrument after it’s dry and look for any substantial water damage.


Questions about the condition of your instrument? Contact Kennedy Violins at 1-800-779-0242 or support@kennedyviolins.com. We are always happy to help!

Orchestra students at the Mitch Carter school play instruments from Kennedy Violins.

A GUIDE TO TEACHING CHILDREN MUSIC – Principle 2: “Self-Initiated Learning vs. Imposition”

“Children learn best when the learning is self-initiated, arising from their own curiosity and interests, rather than imposed on them.”

– Aletha Solter, Ph.D., “Principles of Learning”

Godfrey Kneller's portrait of IsaacNewton, 1689
Godfrey Kneller’s portrait of IsaacNewton, 1689

Newton hit the nail on the head with his third law of motion: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Try verbally or physically trying to make a child do something will make them resist even more.

Examples:

  • Try forcing green vegetables into a kid’s mouth and they will refuse to open their mouth or immediately spit out whatever you put in there.
  • Yell at a child to get in bed and they’re be riled up and less tired or willing to sleep.
  • Try physically removing a child from doing or playing with something they like and they will kick and scream.

When we apply this to music and helping children develop the habit of practicing, negatively forcing a child to play a specific instrument or practice at specific times for specific lengths of time may produce results—BUT, on the other hand,  they might sap away a child’s desire to play over time. This happens especially if those measures result in reluctance, resistance, indifference, apathy, or rejection of musical activities or practice.

There are two types of motivation:

  1. Intrinsic motivation, or an inner desire or interest to do something, usually for the sake of enjoyment or self-satisfaction.
  2. Extrinsic motivation, or a drive to accomplish something in order to receive a reward or recognition from an outward motivator. Motivators include threats, bribes, prizes, fame, competition, pressuring, etc.

In teacher Lara Hansen’s article “The Inherent Desire to Learn: Intriniscally Motivating First Grade Students,” she says,

“When people are intrinsically motivated they feel interest and enjoyment in what they are doing. They also feel a sense of capability and determination. What they don’t feel is tension, stress, and anxiety.”

In general, people tend to enjoy activities more when they can enjoy the experience and develop a personal passion for what they are doing. Any trauma introduced to an activity in the form of external motivators can lead that activity becoming stressful instead of a pleasure to perform.

As teachers and parents, we can provide opportunities for a child learn an instrument, but imposing, pushing, or bribing a child will create resistance and perhaps kill the child’s original curiosity and interest.

But don’t worry! We all have negative experiences with music, like playing a bad concert or being pressured to practice because of an assignment or impending performance. External/extrinsic motivators naturally exist and aren’t all bad unless they kill our passion for music.

And even if desires and passions dwindle, they can be fed and nurtured back to life. Just because a child throws a fit and doesn’t want to go to a music lesson one day doesn’t mean all is lost—you may find the same child excitedly getting their instrument out to show a friend the next day.

They say curiosity killed the cat, but perhaps killing the curiosity in the cat is the sadder scenario. Let’s keep the desire to learn alive and well!

Orchestra students at the Mitch Carter school play instruments from Kennedy Violins.

A GUIDE TO TEACHING CHILDREN MUSIC – Principle 1: “The Ability and Desire to Learn”

“All children are born with the desire and the ability to learn.”

– Aletha Solter, Ph.D., “Principles of Learning”

THE ABILITY TO LEARN

Young students come to lessons at Kennedy Violins with minds like blank slates.  From the start, children are born with brains like sponges—you’ve heard the comparison before. Sounds, sights, movements, and smells engage the brain as it makes neurological connections. Every experience is absorbed, defining a growing child’s understanding of the world around him. 

Music is a language, so the ability to learn, read, and make music can be compared to language acquisition. From birth, and even in the womb, infants are extremely cognisant of sounds. A baby recognizes the specific tone of her mother’s voice. Pitch recognitions allow a child to recognize high and low tones.

The sound of music, which does not have to be deciphered, decoded, or read, can absolutely captivate a child of any age. Children stop in their tracks to identify the sounds around them like a bird chirping, a plane flying overhead, or the playing of a piano upstairs. Musical sounds are expressed in a universal language of melodies, to which language humans are programmed to respond from the very beginning.

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A DESIRE TO LEARN

Because music is inherently fascinating to children and adults, it can be introduced and immediately engage a child’s interest, filling him or her with an intrinsic desire to hear, learn, and experience more. A parent or teacher can take this golden opportunity to feed a child’s natural interest in music by recognizing his or her specific desires and creating a learning environment to satisfy the child’s hunger for more — more music, of course! 

A child’s natural curiosity leads to questions like

  • What happened?
  • What is this?
  • What was that sound?
  • Who is that?
  • Why? Why? Why?
  • Are we there yet?

Kids want to learn. As parents and teachers, we have the great opportunity and responsibility to provide an education to satisfy a child’s thirst for knowledge. Hand a child an instrument, and they will want to play with it and on it.

Therefore, music need not be forced upon a child to produce interest—in fact, forcing children typically repels their interest. Read more about imposed learning with Principle Two: “Self-Initiated Learning vs. Imposition.”

Students participating in the string workshop

A GUIDE TO TEACHING CHILDREN MUSIC: An Interpretation of Aletha Solter’s “Principles of Learning”

Orchestra students at the Mitch Carter school play instruments from Kennedy Violins.
Fifth grade students at  M.I.T.C.H. Charter School play instruments from Kennedy Violins.

As parents, teachers, and musicians, we hope to guide both our children and students to learn in the most effective way. But how can we encourage

  • a desire to learn
  • discipline to practice
  • enjoyment
  • and a sense of accomplishment

when teaching children to play an instrument?

Quite often children

  • equate practice with punishment,
  • experience boredom during lessons and practice sessions,
  • don’t understand what is being taught,
  • resist being encouraged (or forced) to practice,
  • lose interest in their instrument,
  • and/or don’t believe music can be enjoyable.

How can we keep children from these pitfalls and stumbling blocks during what could otherwise be a fulfilling, effective, and FUN learning experience?

Understanding how children learn is absolutely imperative when you are a teacher or parent introducing a child to music. Parental involvement is very important in the process, which is why all private instructors at Kennedy Violins encourage parents to participate in and be aware of their child’s learning experience.

The following series is a guide expanding upon eleven points from “Principles of Learning,” an article excerpt from Helping Young Children Flourish by developmental psychologist Aletha Solter, Ph.D. This series will expand on the eleven principles of learning in terms of how children can learn to play a musical instrument.

___________________________________

Please check back as sections of “A Guide to Teaching Children Music” are added to this series!

  1. “The Ability and Desire to Learn”
  2. “Self-Initiated Learning vs. Imposition”
  3. “Hands-On Self-Discovery” – Coming Soon
  4. “Learning Through Play” – Coming Soon
  5. “Appropriate Stimulation” – Coming Soon
  6. “Inspiring Imagination and Creativity” – Coming Soon
  7. “Children Learn at Their Own Rate” – Coming Soon
  8. “Children Have Different Learning Styles” – Coming Soon
  9. “Screen Time: Stifling Creativity” – Coming Soon
  10. “Stress Interferes with Learning” – Coming Soon
  11. “The Parent/Child Relationship Affects Learning” – Coming Soon
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Kennedy Violins Concerts: Young Artist Debut Winners Perform Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kennedy Violins is thrilled to present four of Metro Art’s 20th annual Van Buren Concerto Competition winners in concert!

young-artists-preview copyEnjoy this special preview this Thursday, March 13th, at the Kennedy Violins Recital Hall before the Young Artists Concert on April 1st, 2014 at 7:30pm in the Newmark Theatre,

See you Thursday!

poetry

The 2014 Poetry Contest Winners!

We are excited to announce the results of Kennedy Violins‘ 2014 Poetry Contest! As always, it was very difficult to judge with such fantastic entries. Thank you to all the magnificent poets who submitted their work this year!

PoetryContestHeader

THE 2014 POETRY CONTEST WINNER

So without further ado, CONGRATULATIONS winner Caroline Castleton for her beautifully crafted entry! Caroline will receive Kennedy Violins’ Premium Accessory Package as the grand prize!

We shall keep playing!
We shall keep playing, for poor souls bulge,
too swollen for inarticulate frames.
Great organizers of sound consigned to us
St. Matthews, Violettas, Tills–a host of names.
We bring blood and breath;
They pull stoppers from welled-up humanity.
We shall keep playing,
and give utterance to our sensibilities.
As Bach made life, Beethoven storm,
Berg a scream, Debussy a sigh,
We, then, shall keep playing, you and I.

- Caroline Castleton

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Three honorable mentions will receive awards (and tuners as prizes!) this year as the judges could not settle on just two. Congratulations to Veeresh Taranalli, Rachel Richardson, and Liza Lehmkuhl Walters!

Life is but a set of strings to be pulled,
To make a song as best as we could,
Touch the hearts of one and all it should,
Then gift a memory to life, we would.

- Veeresh Taranall

________________________________________

“Is that a guitar?”
Or “Should have played piccolo.”
To such I say, “No.”

-Rachel Richardson

________________________________________

I grew up believing my large hands and long fingers were a curse–until your neck was cradled in my palm.

I felt like such an oddball with my used station wagon–but it was important for you to travel safely

I carried you on my shoulder, against my chest and hip, over long distances, in heels, and responded to stares and questions with a breezy “sometimes it’s awkward, but you get used to it”–you were my responsibility.

And then college came and we spent less time together. Cross country moves, weddings, births, and now you have a corner in a spare room.

I remember how I felt you rumble in my belly and quiver in my hands and how my fingers arched and flexed as they traced the length of you.

You beautiful girl.

You beautiful bass.

- Liza Lehmkuhl Walters

STAY TUNED

Thanks again to all who entered — we can’t wait to see what you enter next year! Stay tuned to the blog and follow Kennedy Violins on Facebook page for news of upcoming contests including our annual photo contest!

20140217-185356.jpg

History Preserved: Guarneri, Amati & Stradivarius Violins

This weekend I had the great opportunity to travel to New York City and spend time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was especially excited about their wing dedicated to musical instruments with some incredible stringed instruments on display, including original violins by makers Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri as well as other 16th century violins from the Cremona school in Italy.

20140217-185425.jpg
“The Antonius” Violin by Antonio Stradivari,1711, during Stradivari’s “Golden Period.” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY)

Evolution of the Modern Violin

The Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families actively produced instruments between 1550 and 1744 in the same region of Cremona, during which time the modern violin as we know it came to life. While string instruments have evolved over time with various body shapes and string counts, very few changes have been made to the violin that was standardized during this time as a four-stringed instrument with its signature shape and size, strung in perfect fifths (E, A, D, G).

You may notice slight differences in design between the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivarius violins, but they are clearly instruments in same family with the same tuning, string count, and contours. These violins seem so familiar because they are; almost all violins today are made with Stradivari, Amati, or Guarneri body designs.

20140217-185411.jpg
1731 “Baltic” Violin by Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesu” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY)

For example, if you take a look at all the violins we carry at Kennedy Violins, you’ll notice that they are all made with the same standard measurements (body length, string length, string height, fingerboard length and so on—take a look at our violin measurements chart) used by luthiers today. Most are made and shaped with an original Stradivari design.

Preserved Historical Violin

As you may know, some instruments preserved from these hundreds of years ago are still in use. Most notably, there are 650 Stradivari violins still in existence, ranging in value from between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. In 2010 a Stradivari violin sold at auction for $3,600,000, a record high.

Updating to a Modern Setup

Even though these 16th, 17th, and 18th century violins are in tact and in use, the ones in performance today have actually been modernized with fittings that make them playable by today’s standards.

I found the diagram below so fascinating. From it we learn that a Stradivarius violin in performance today has been OPTIMIZED to compete with modern violins to catch up with the evolution of the violin that has taken place over the centuries. These evolutionary changes in setup have made the violin more easily playable with more projection and better sound quality.

20140217-185143.jpg
What’s changed? Here’s a visual comparing Baroque violin setup to modern violin setup.

What’s New?

Updates from the Baroque setup to the modern setup include

  • a new neck that angles back
  • a longer fingerboard that allows performance in higher octaves
  • a modern bridge
  • new strings, often synthetic with metal winding instead of strings made from animal gut
  • a modern tailpiece
  • a longer bass bar in the interior of the violin

What’s the Same?

What remains “untouched”? Essentially, the body of the violin (back, face, and ribs) and the scroll/pegbox.  This may not sound like much, but it’s the body of the instrument that most greatly affects the sound. The quality of wood and the precise gradations in the carving and thickness of the plates make these instruments sound like they do.

In this sense, the restored Baroque instruments retain their authenticity because no one can replicate the carving of the plates done by the original masters themselves.

20140217-191011.jpg
Violin by Andrea Amati, Cremona, ca. 1569, one of the “earliest surviving violins.” (Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY)

The Legacy Lives On

If you get a chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or other museums throughout the world with string instruments on display, definitely take the opportunity to see these preserved treasures. Better yet, you can hear a Stradivarius performed live (or on record) by modern violinists including Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman.

To see and hear these pieces of history alive is truly a privilege as we remember the master makers who brought to life music as we know it today. Here’s to the continuation of their legacy through the practice and performance of music forever!

___________________

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