Category Archives: Accessories

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

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!

Gift Ideas for Classical Musicians

You might scream when you unwrap a book of Taylor Swift sheet music--even if you're not a preteen schoolgirl!
You might scream when you unwrap a book of Taylor Swift sheet music–even if you’re not a preteen schoolgirl! (Check it out in our online store.)

Christmas. 

Don’t stress. Yes, it’s coming. Yes, there may be expectations to meet–real or imagined. Either way, gift-giving should be a pleasant activity; preferably, not something that leaves you popping Advil to keep your holiday-stress-induced migraine at bay.

Music is a great gift in so many forms. If you’re wondering what to get the classical musician in your life, check out this list of gift ideas that will bring a smile to any musician’s face. Happy Holidays!

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1. Sheet Music – Like the Taylor Swift collection.

Come on. You know you love her. And so will your violin-playing daughter for that matter. But beyond T-Swift, there’s plenty of sheet music out there (including Christmas tunes!) that will liven up the season!

 

2. A Spotify Membership

If you haven’t tried Spotify, you should. It’s amazing. With a monthly membership, you can access pretty much all the music in the universe with unlimited streaming and the ability to download music to your personal device. You’ll never have to buy a CD ever again and can discover new artists so easily. A monthly subscription makes a great gift for a music lover.

 

3. A Performance

The best gifts don’t come wrapped in paper and topped with bows. A personal performance for someone–or a group of someones–is super, super special and something that won’t be forgotten. It doesn’t have to be spectacular either, perhaps something as simple as a Christmas Carols sung on a front porch. Other ideas?

  • Get a quartet together to play for your family, at your Church, a nursing home, at a school function–whatever.
  • Prepare a recital to give during the holidays.
  • Organize a family concert with a Christmas theme.
  • Compose a piece and perform it for someone.
  • Teach your children Christmas songs.

 

4. A New Violin

Seriously, a new instrument one of the best gifts you could ever give or receive. No matter how old or young or experienced or inexperienced someone is, they will be absolutely enamored. It’s amazing to see the look on a person’s face when they hold a new violin in their hands. A thirty-year-old and a ten-year-old will have the same giddy expression of awe. Ditch the jewelry and jigsaw puzzles and puppies (too messy)! Give a gift that has unlimited potential as both a work of art and something to do (practice!) when the holiday parties are over.

violinsetupprocess

5. A New Case

If you or your loved one already own a great violin, a new case is another great idea. Cases wear out and get tattered like old sweaters–especially cheap cases. Go for a full-suspension case that’s both durable and easy on the eyes. Bam cases are totally fun with a selection of bright colors. They’re super strong and popular.

 

6. Mozart Balls (Mozartkugel)

These European chocolates are a total classic with such an original taste. One feels very classy whilst eating Mozartkugel!

mozartball7. Concert Tickets

It is such a pleasant surprise to open up a Christmas card or envelope and find a pair of tickets to the symphony, ballet, or any kind of concert. Giving an experience if often more meaningful than giving an object. Find out what’s going on in your (or your loved one’s) community and pick out an event that suits your giftee’s taste.

 

8. Cross Stitching

Whether you cross stitch a kit or give one as a gift, there’s something charming about good-old-fashioned embroidery. Check out music-themed cross stitch kits on 123stitch.com such as this “Music is Harmony” pattern. Grandma-chic is totally in!

musicisharmonyviolincrossstitch

9. Accessories: Metronome, Tuner, Music Stand

It seems that musicians can never really have it all–there are always accessories and upgrades that can enhance one’s musical life. Carbon fiber bows, shiny new rosin cakes, or even violin pickups can be exciting and original gifts!

 

10. Carbon Fiber Bow

Speaking of carbon fiber bows, I know it may sound strange, but these space-age bows (not to be confused with fiberglass bows) are like the iPhone of violin accessories–modern, high-tech, effective, sleek, and useful. Check out the Giuliani Carbon Fiber Bow, comparable to the Coda Bow brand, but more affordable.

 

11. Artwork

Prints, artwork, statuettes, crafts for display with musical themes are memorable items–you could even paint something yourself!

II painted a violin to give as a gift to a violinist1=.

12. Headphones

Classical musicians can be gearheads too! Just because we’re all old-school with our sheet music (paperless concerts, anyone?) and archaic wooden instruments doesn’t mean we don’t love a good listen with a pair of awesome headphones–think Bose. There’s nothing like sinking into a recliner, leaning back, closing your eyes, and enjoying a Beethoven Symphony with amazing clarity. Sometimes digital recordings offer even more acoustic clarity than you might experience in a concert hall.

 

13. Spankin’ New Strings

It’s amazing how many violinists play on old strings without changing them for years. Fresh strings can completely transform the sound of an instrument. A sampling of various string brands would make fun stocking stuffers!

 

14. Cheesy T-shirts, Mugs, Mousepads, etc.

Check out cafepress.com’s selectiong. They’re worthy of White Elephant Gift status at the least.

 

15. Christmas Ornament Sets

You’ll find plenty of ornament collections available online like these violin ornaments on amazon.com. Cute, pretty, cheery. Just gift them before Christmas so they can be admired on the tree.

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So get out there and tackle that Christmas list! You can do it! It’s going to be amazing! But if the thought of shopping is just too much, no worries. Just give someone a hug or (even better) directions to stand under the mistletoe. After all, nothing beats good, old-fashioned, warm fuzzies.

Happy Holidays!

Love,

The KV Staff

2013 Poetry Contest…WINNER Announced!

heart-music

This year, our entrants really brought their A-game!  It was difficult for the judges to come to a decision, but a winner has finally been announced!  The winner is Elizabeth Ryan and her poem “The Beauty of Music.”

A well worn case sits on a shelf, its surface framed with dust. Its leather covering is old, its handle and hinges rust.
In side this case such beauty lies, that’s yet to be untold. The beauty of an instrument, which such rare treasures hold.
The case is lifted gently up, and placed with loving hands. Upon a wooden table near, it finds a place to land.
Its lid is opened to reveal a wooden object there. A Violin, this treasure is, a treasure O so rare.
A small child picks it up, and plucks the strings to tune. A smile gently plays her lips, as fresh as a day in June.
The bow she takes and rosins it, to play her music fair. The Violin on her shoulder she places with such loving, tender, care.
Now, hark! a single string she plays, alive with beauty bright. A melody than slowly forms, it fills every heart with delight.
The music slowly fills the room, with fullness to behold. The melody’s a minuet, from the Great Masters of Old.
The music grows in rapid course, now slow, and now it’s fast. The scenes that dart before your eyes are years of long time past.
Now it’s spring time in the meadows, now it the warm, hot, summer, days. Now the leaves are falling gently, now a visit to winter is paid.
O, the glories of such music, O, the treasures it can hold. O, the joys the Lord has given us, O, such wonders to behold.
We should thank the Lord for music, and remember with each string, that even playing music, should glory to him bring.

The judges really liked her descriptive imagery.  Elizabeth has won our Premium Accessories Package.  Congratulations!

We are also pleased to announced two honorable mentions.  Cecille Lee Gove and her poem “It’s Music.”

What is beautiful and soothing to the ears,
A treasure that brings both laughter and tears.

It comes in all sizes, shapes, and sounds,
And has trillions of fans all around.

It’s high and low, flat and sharp,
And brightens even the dimmest heart.

It’s country, gospel, classical, and rock,
And something no living creature can mock.

It’s the piano, organ, piccolo, and flute,
Violin, viola, mandolin, and lute.

It’s the fiddle, banjo, guitar, and xylophone,
Oboe, clarinet, drums, and saxophone.

It’s bass, treble, soprano, and alto,
Whole, quarter, half, and eighth notes.

It’s better than bronze, silver, and gold,
And anything the ears can ever behold.

What’s the answer – do you know it ?
It’s God’s gift to us all – it’s music !

As well as, Paolo Ferrer and his haiku “Sound Post.”

A Breath. Bow meets strings.
The being’s essence expressed
Soul soars, woes fleeting

Thank you to everyone that participated!  Stay tuned to the blog and our Facebook page for news of upcoming contests.