All posts by Rachel Davis

Rachel grew up in a musical family. She was started singing and playing piano at an early age. In fifth grade, she began playing the violin in the school orchestra. It wasn't long, however, before she fell in love with the sound of the cello. Cello has since been her favorite instrument to play. Growing up in Portland, OR provided many opportunities for musical growth. Rachel participated in local groups like the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and the Portland Youth Philharmonic. After earning her Bachelor's of Music from Berry College, in Rome, GA, she moved back to the Northwest where she currently plays for the Willamette Falls Symphony, Willamette Falls Trio and the indie rock band, Capraesque.

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

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 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.

Face to Face with Brandon from Kennedy Violins

Today, we hear from Brandon, one of the newest additions to our talented luthier department.

1. How long have you worked at Kennedy Violins?

A few months…about five.

2. What is your favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins and why?

I am endlessly immersed in music. Whether it’s setting up instruments or listening to Pandora, I love it.

3. What is your favorite instrument that Kennedy Violins carries and why?

My favorite instrument we carry would have to be the Henner. I like the flame. It looks like it has come right off the side of a golden tiger.

4. What is your favorite musician?

My favorite musician (believe it or not) would have to be Justin Beiber. Not so much his earlier music, but his newer stuff has showed a great jump in maturity.

This is how we would hope Justin Bieber to add maturity to his music. :-)
What might make Justin’s music even better!

5. If you didn’t play the guitar, which instrument would you play?

I would love to learn to play a hammered dulcimer. They sound super cool.

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

I would love to play with and learn from John Cooper: the lead singer and bassist for the band, Skillet.

7. What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming year?

I am most looking forward to visiting my dad in Florida this Fall.

Greetings from Florida

8. What is something interesting that we don’t already know about you?

I am both a musician and a motor head. In fact, I built my car from the ground up for under 2k.

9. What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working at Kennedy Violins?

I play tons of video games. My favorite game is Mass Effect 3.

Face to Face with Heather from Kennedy Violins

Today, we get to know Heather Case, a Kennedy Violins veteran!

Heather started playing violin in the public school system in the third grade. She continued through college where she studied music education. Currently, she performs locally with groups like the Beaverton Symphony Orchestra and the North Oregon Coast Symphony.

Heather Face1. How long have you worked at Kennedy Violins?
Two and a half years

2. What is your favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins and why?
It hardly ever feels like work! When I get up in the morning, I am excited to go play violin and talk to people about playing the violin all day long. From the very beginning student — to the parent who is encouraging a student to begin — to a teacher doing research for their program — to a professional player who wants to try new strings, I look forward to all aspects of the string world in my day.

3. What is your favorite instrument/product that Kennedy Violins carries and why?
That constantly changes because we are always getting something new! My current favorite is the Vitacek Violin Outfit because it has such an incredible sound and is easy to play. I’ve been calling it our “red violin” or the “gypsy violin” because of the color of the finish. But, our new David Yale line is quickly growing on me as we have been getting them in and playing each of them. They definitely have unique characters to them (you can click here to see more David Yale instruments).

4. What is your favorite band/musician/composer?
I always wanted to be involved in movie soundtracks or Broadway musicals as a kid. I find ways to play for cheesy occasions whenever I can. It is my guilty musical pleasure.

5. If you didn’t play the violin, which instrument would you play?
Piano, without a doubt. Performing an instrument with both hands seems to be a constant hurdle for me. I should say something more like the ‘bagpipes,’ but that’s not going to happen.

6. Which musician (alive or dead) do you wish you could play with?
For me, music has never been about fame or fortune. I am amazed by people who do it so well, but music is a very social thing in my life. Performing with my friends and family (especially my kids) is the best thing ever, and I wouldn’t give that up for performing with someone who would only intimidate the heck out of me.

7. What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming year?
With our new retail location, I’m looking forward to working with new teachers and school programs in our immediate area as well as outreach across the country.

A picture of Heather drawn by one of her students.
A picture of Heather drawn by one of her students.