All posts by Liz Lambson

Liz Lambson, bassist, luthier, and writer, is performer from Colorado Springs, Colorado. With a music degree from Brigham Young University, Liz has performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, Ballet West, Vancouver Symphony, Columbia Symphony, American Festival Orchestra, the Bach Cantata Choir, and Utah Shakespeare Festival as well as several rock, folk, and jazz bands. Liz has performed with notable artists such as Peter Cetera, Audra McDonald, Renee Fleming, Sissel, and Michael Martin Murphy, and on movie soundtracks including Forever Strong (2008). She released an album of original folk songs in 2006 (Liz Rhodes, Red and Yellow) on guitar and vocals. Liz and her husband moved to Oregon in 2009. She enjoys writing, cross stitching, woodworking, painting, and spending time with her two charming sons.

2016 Instrument Scholarship Essay Contest

The Kennedy Violins 2016 Instrument Scholarship Essay Contest is an exciting opportunity for us to reward dedicated violin and viola students in Oregon and Washington states with the gift of a free violin or viola! Each contestant may enter by submitting a two-page, double-spaced essay exploring the following question:

What skills do learning an instrument help you develop for your future, and who or what inspires you to keep playing? Poster Image details below

Who can apply?

The essay contest welcomes single entries (one essay per student) from elementary, middle, and high school viola and violin students in Oregon and Washington States. Spread the word, and invite your students, friends, and children to enter!

When do I apply? 

Please submit entries by June 1st, 2016. By submitting you are confirming that all written material is original, and granting Kennedy Violins permission to print and/or publish winning essays.

What if I need a fractional instrument?

Size trade-ins are available for growing musicians!

How do I enter?   

Please submit the following information by email to vanessa@kennedyviolins.com or mail to

Vanessa Moss ImageATTN: Vanessa Moss

Kennedy Violins Essay Contest

508 SE 117th Ave

Vancouver, WA 98683

  • Name
  • Age
  • Grade
  • School
  • Instrument size
  • Name of teacher (private and public, if applicable)
  • And of course, the essay!

Questions? Contact us at 1-800-779-0242. We look forward to hearing from you!

Support Young Musicians through Better Bows!

Kennedy Violins is honored to support Better Bows, a fundraising campaign with a goal to provide the local Wy’East Middle School Orchestra of Vancouver, Washington with high-quality carbon fiber bows for use in the classroom. We invite you to donate and support this great cause!

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How does it work?
“Bowbrarians” will care for a complete set of bows students can check out for use during classroom rehearsals. These high-quality, durable carbon fiber bows will be for in-class and performance use only, always cleaned and returned after each use.

Giuliani Carbon Fiber Bows
Kennedy Violins is proud to contribute our durable, strong, and super-responsive Giuliani Carbon Fiber Bows to the Better Bows cause. These bows, when well-maintained, will be played on by over the course of 20+ years, making a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of orchestra students.

Antonio Giuliani: Fine Instrument Bows Silver winding adds beauty and durability. High quality Carbon Fiber stick for warm sound and excellent bounce. Double metal mounted for durability and proper weight. Decorative genuine Abalone for beauty.
Antonio Giuliani Carbon Fiber Bow Features.

Why contribute?
Kennedy Violins will donate one bow for every two bows purchased with funds raised by Better Bows. We believe in supporting the youth in our local music community with high-quality, yet affordable instruments and accessories.

Make a difference in the lives of our talented youth by contributing to Better Bows today!

DONATE NOW      LEARN MORE

Music Careers for Your Personality Type

Are you wondering where you might best fit in your local music community? Check out this infographic shared with us by Emily Parker with collegematchup.net. As you’ll see, the multi-faceted music industry has a place for all personality types!

Music Careers for Your Personality Type
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Congratulations, Leah Kramaric!

We are always thrilled to receive great news from members of the Kennedy Violins family all over the world. Congratulations to seven-year-old Leah Kramaric from Zagreb, Croatia, who recently won first prize in the regional Croatian competition playing on a Louis Carpini G2 Violin from Kennedy Violins! Leah is now qualified for the national competition, the largest in Croatia.

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The Kramaric family loves Leah’s 1/2-size Carpini G2 purchased from Kennedy Violins last year. According to Leah’s father, Damir, Leah “loves the instrument and demands (nothing less, mind you) to purchase a 3/4-size Louis Carpini G2 from you again. Well, I guess that’s it then. How can you argue against that? You’ll be hearing from us pretty soon again. Thank you to all of you at Kennedy Violins who put in good work for the benefit of your customers.”

View an excerpt from Leah Kramaric’s award-winning performance of Ferdinand Küchler’s Concertino in G, op. 11.

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

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!

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!

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.”