Category Archives: Bass

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

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!

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.

When NOT to Practice Your Instrument

Hate to “break” it to ya, but you may need to lay off practicing for a while. (Photo by James Lee)

We’re always telling you to

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE (Why don’t you read Kennedy Violins‘ article “The Art of Effective Practicing” while you’re at it) PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE—

—but, like your mom’s nagging, all this talk of what you should be doing all the time can make you feel seriously guilty anytime you decide to take a little break. And yet, sometimes,

 IT’S OKAY NOT TO PRACTICE.

Serious musicians who take a break (whether it be a day, week, month, or year) from practicing for whatever reason often feel guilty or even depressed as a result. For regular practicers, not practicing may feel like

  • not brushing your teeth
  • wearing the same underwear all week
  • letting dishes pile up in the sink
  • not checking Facebook

 

WHEN NOT TO PRACTICE

Cut yourself some slack. Here are a few instances when you probably shouldn’t (or literally can’t) practice:

  1. Right before a performance. WARM UP, but don’t wear yourself out with a real practice session. Tune, play a few scales, and review a few tricky passages, but don’t wear out your fingers the morning of your big performance.
  2. During rehearsal.  We know you’re just itching to work on (or show off) that tricky lick in the concerto you’re working on, but spare your conductor and your stand partner. Rehearsal time is never practice time—it’s unprofessional and distracting.
  3. When you’re really, really tired. There is apparently no difference between driving sleepy and driving drunk. Practice when you’re that tired and you’ll likely not even remember what you practiced. You might even fall over and impale yourself with your bow. Don’t kill yourself—get some sleep and practice in the morning when you’re fresh and alert.
  4. When you’re injured. This totally sucks, but if you have tendonitis, a broken arm, or some other injury that requires rest and recovery, you’ll just have to take a break, perhaps missing an upcoming performance or even a whole orchestra semester or season. Take your mind off your inability to play by focusing on another hobby or skill you can practice or develop during your “off-season.”
  5. After you’ve played a recital. If you don’t take at least a day off after a huge performance, you’re probably obsessed. And that’s okay.
  6. When you really deserve a break. Maybe you’re just shy of your goal to practice 5 or 10 hours a week. If you just can’t squeeze in those last couple hours, think back on what you have accomplished and start fresh next week. It’s more about the quality of your practice—not the quantity—anyway.
  7. When someone asks you on a date. Seriously, music nerd! Put down your instrument and put on your dancing shoes! Bach isn’t your boyfriend—but this guy might be if you give him a chance.
  8. When someone dies. If you’re really hard-core, you may consider death to be a lame excuse. But when big life events happen—births, deaths, marriages, etc.—it’s time to focus on what’s really important in life, which is more than music or your personal agenda. Take time out to develop relationships, be there for others, and take care of your family and friends. That’s the real stuff of life.
  9. When you have a fever over 104°. Put your violin down and go see a doctor.
  10. When you’ve practiced so much that you hate your instrument, your teacher, and music all together. You may be at a point where your instrument is like a really annoying two-year-old constantly screaming bloody  murder in your ear, demanding all of your energy, and keeping you up all night. It’s time to get a babysitter (i.e. your violin case) and step away for a breather. People tend to appreciate things (kids, instruments, food) when they haven’t seen them for a time. Take a moment to step away and 1) ask yourself why you play your instrument and 2) think of all the things you love about music and how it enriches your life.

WHEN YOU COME BACK

When you do come back to your instrument after a short (or long, if necessary), reprieve, you’ll likely appreciate it much more than you did before your separation, breakup, or last “big fight.” Hopefully you’ll be able to kiss, makeup, and get back to making beautiful music together.

But in the meantime, enjoy the break. You deserve it!

 

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

Back to School Tips for Parents: Practice vs. Homework?

It’s that time of year again!  I’m seeing photos pop up on Facebook and Instagram of my friends’ children ready for their first day of school — backpacks on, fresh new outfits, big smiles. And while these courageous kids may be a little nervous to tackle a new year, it’s often the parents who feel more overwhelmed when school starts up again.

We’re getting a glimpse of that at Kennedy Violins as parents call us in preparation for orchestra season. There is so much to worry about — filling out registration forms, buying new school clothes, sizing up that endless list of school supplies, getting everyone fed and dressed in the morning, meeting with the PTA, getting to know your child’s teacher, hoping your child has good friends and stays out of trouble . . . it’s enough to make you want to just sit still at a desk for a few hours while someone lectures you about the Civil War.

And then there’s homework. Before you know it, the dining table is buried in notebooks and papers and textbooks and (these days) a laptop or iPad or two. And somewhere, underneath a pile of backpacks and sports equipment you might find your child’s violin.

For children in school music ensembles, there’s yet another somewhat-intangible task that needs to be accomplished between all that homework: PRACTICE. Because not all music teachers require their students to keep a practice log that will be graded, the expectations to practice are vague for most studens who don’t know how much, how often, or simply when to practice during the school week.

As a parent, you want your child to succeed in both academics and extracurriculars, but finding a balance can be a real challenge. (See “Back to School: Music, Extracurriculars & Life Balance.”) So when your child is stressing out about a book report due on Friday, is it possible to step away from Bronte to spend some time with Brahms? Does practice interrupt study time, or does study time interrupt practice?

Hopefully neither. When it comes to encouraging your child to practice AND do well with their studies, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Homework, homework, homework. (Photo by John Morgan)
Homework, homework, homework. (Photo by John Morgan)
  1. Homework and practice are both important. Neither are superior to the other; rather, they complement each other. If you want your child to take music seriously, emphasize how important practice is to becoming a great musician. Likewise, your child’s love for music shouldn’t keep them playing Rock Band for hours on end when there’s a huge exam coming up. Balance is key (see below).
  2. There IS time to practice during the week. Hard to believe? Yes. Impossible? No. Scheduling and setting aside time for both homework and practice is key. For elementary students, even ten minutes of focused practice every day is a huge accomplishment! Older high school students serious about their musicianship might commit to practicing an hour+ per day. Maybe practicing every other day works better for your child. But no matter what the goal is as far as how much time to spend practicing, the key is consistency and regularity. Practicing doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Just carve out a slot of time in the morning, while dinner is cooking, right after school, or whatever works for you and your child.
  3. Establish a place to study and a place to practice. Most students have a study space at home, whether at a desk in their room or at a table or in an office. Similarly, designate a place to practice. It could be a room or simply a corner somewhere where there is already a music stand set out, a metronome at hand, a shelf for music, a storage spot for the instrument, and decent lighting. So when you say, “Hey, Johnny, it’s time to practice!” he knows exactly where to go to make it happen.
  4. Being well-rounded is a good thing. Academics, arts and music, and sports/physical fitness are all wonderful and each require discipline. Encourage your child to embrace both academics and practice as exercises for different parts of the brain. Music sharpens the mind and will likely help your child do better academically as a direct result of learning an instrument.
  5. Practice can be seen as a nice break from time at the desk. When you notice your child’s eyes glazed over and drool trickling down onto George Washington’s face in the history textbook, try for a change of pace. Doing something physical like standing up to play an instrument is so invigorating after reading or writing for too long. Practice can be actually be really relaxing and rejuvinating when the brain is otherwise fried.
  6. Homework can be a nice break from time at the music stand. After practicing a really difficult exercise or piece, encourage your child to take a break–like flopping down on the couch to read an assigned chapter before returning to the music stand to finish up.

    Need a change of pace? Try practicing outdoors with a friend! (Photo by John Benson)
    Need a change of pace? Try practicing outdoors with a friend! (Photo by John Benson)
  7. Practice can be fun. Mix things up. Keep the act of both practice and study far from grueling. Keep a positive attitude about practice by talking about practice as if it is (and because it totally can be) an enjoyable activity and something fun to do. Talk about the instrument as something special and worth respect. Avoid treating practice as a form of punishment or your child will begin to view practicing and eating slimy green vegetables as similar forms of torture.
  8. Practice is a form of homework. If practice is seen as an optional activity, it may never happen. Treat practice like an assignment, as something that must be accomplished.
  9. Family time is essential. Doing homework and practicing don’t have to draw away from positive family relationships and time together. Try practicing with your child. Ask them (in a positive, inviting way) to play what they’re learning for you or to perform for the family. And when it’s time to hit the books, try sitting down to study with your child by helping them with their assignments or simply sitting next to them while you do your own reading, study, or work. Being present is a simple way to be supportive.
  10. Don’t take anything too seriously. Keep calm. Don’t panic. Everything is going to be just fine.

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We wish you the best with the new school year, whether you are a parent or student. As always, feel free to contact us with all your musical questions–we always happy to help. Visit us at kennedyviolins.com or on Facebook and keep in touch. It’s an exciting time, so we hope you enjoy the ride!

Feature image by Phil Roeder.

Decisions, Decisions: Should I Major in Music?

Working for Kennedy Violins, I am constantly immersed in music–and I like it that way. There was a time in my life, though, when I reached a crossroad that would determine exactly how music might, could, or would be a part of my future. It’s a crossroad many young musicians face.

As high school wound down to an end, I had mixed ideas as far as my future plans were concerned. I went from feeling reluctant to go to college to eagerly applying with the hope of a scholarship. Then, during my senior year, I really started considering not just where I would gain my higher education, but in what emphasis of study I’d immerse myself. At the time, I was very dedicated to two creative pursuits: the visual arts (painting) and the performing arts (classical string bass).

To paint or to play? That was the question. Even though I majored in music, I still enjoy painting.
To paint or to play? That was the question. Even though I majored in music, I still enjoy painting.

When I approached my private bass teacher, the principal of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, with my decision, he surprised me with the question, “Are you sure you want to major in music?” At the time, the symphony was facing serious financial troubles with a lack of funding and drama within the board of directors. Sometimes, apparently, the music business can be no fun.

I went on to major in music–mostly because playing the bass was something I was good at, so why not keep going with it?–but looking back, I wish I had considered some of the following questions regarding my decision, my goals, and my future.

Now that ten years has passed since graduating high school, I am grateful for my music degree and to still be performing, teaching, and sharing a skill (not just a hobby) developed during my years of collegiate study.

So if you (or your child, friends, or associates) are facing the decision to study music, ask yourself the following questions to bring some light to the subject:

  1. What do you think about when you don’t have to think? What occupies your thoughts (when you actually have a moment to think) is a good indicator of what’s important to you and what really interests you. If you find yourself jotting down melodies, humming the theme from a favorite symphony, or mentally practicing a piece you’ve been working on, these are signs of your interest in or passion for music. Don’t major in music if you’re not seriously passionate about it.
  2. Do you plan to seek higher education? Really assess not just your desire for further education, but the path to get there. “Planning” to go to college includes actually having a concrete plan! Talk about it with your parents and guidance counselor. Access all the resources you can. Research scholarship opportunities and financial aid. Learn about different schools and the programs they offer. Put application deadlines on your calendar and schedule time to complete the mounds of paperwork and online forms. If you want to gain a higher education, do all you can to realize the opportunity!
  3. Do you like to practice? Does anyone really like to practice? Well, sure! Practice isn’t drudgery when approached the right way and with a desire to improve. But SERIOUSLY, you need to have a high tolerance level for being in the practice room. If you major in music, you will practically live there. And if you dread stepping foot into the practice room, you’re going to be a miserable music major. You have to be really dedicated to your craft to understand the value of diligent practice.

    My program required three hours of practice per day. Exhausting, but so important!
    My program required three hours of practice per day. Exhausting, but so worth it!
  4. Do you perceive music as a hobby or a potential profession? Maybe music something you simply do for fun or as a social outlet. But perhaps you’re interested in applying your skills in a way that influences others on a greater scale. Consider whether music is something you simply do for yourself and your own enjoyment (and this is great!) or if you want to share your talent for music more broadly in your music community through performance and education. If you hope to share music effectively with others, majoring in music will provide you with effective means to do just that.
  5. What are your career goals? Do you want to be a dentist or a doctor? A journalist? An accountant? Your professional ambitions don’t have to eliminate your musical involvement, but you will need to invest in an education that enables you to reach your professional goals. (Note: You can actually still minor or even major in music and still access those career paths through graduate and doctoral studies.)
  6. Which do you hope to do more: teach or perform? This question will help you decide whether to pursue a degree in music education, music performance, or general music. All music majors can teach privately, but if you plan to teach in a public school, you’ll need a teaching certificate attained through a music education program.
  7. Are you hoping for a scholarship? Whether you major in music or another field of study, you might be eligible to receive a music scholarship! There are so many scholarships, grants, and awards available to musicians. Do some research to find these, and again, be sure not to miss any deadlines to apply or audition!
  8. Will you regret majoring or not majoring in music? This is a hard question to answer because you may not know until after the fact. Whatever you decide to do, I hope there will be no regrets as you look back on the decisions you’ve made and the doors of opportunity you’ve opened. I hope you’ll find success and joy in your future pursuits no matter what they are.

And remember, even if you don’t major in music, there will always be opportunities to study music and be active in the music community throughout your life. (Visit www.kennedyviolins.com/lessons to learn more about lessons offered in our private studio.) Whatever you decide, we hope music will continue to play an important and enriching role in your life as a music performer, teacher, or lover. Either way, it’s totally worth it. Best of luck!

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Looking for more advice? Feel free to contact us at support@kennedyviolins.com or call 1-800-779-0242. As usual, we love hearing from you!

Instrument Setup: How to Set Up a Violin

Bridge, pegs, fine tuners, fingerboard, nut — we do it all!

We recently created a new page on kennedyviolins.com highlighting our setup process and what goes into the finally assembly of a violin. If you want to learn the trade secrets of violin setup, check out our Instrument Setup page! You’re bound to learn something new!

Face to Face with Liz from Kennedy Violins

Today, our ongoing “Face to Face” series introduces us to, perhaps, one of the most diversely gifted members of the Kennedy Violins team, Liz Lambson.

Liz poses with her bass, James.
Liz poses with her bass, James.

Liz Lambson: string bass player, artist, luthier, and writer–and somehow she plays all these roles at Kennedy Violins! She grew up in Colorado Springs, studied music and English at Brigham Young University, and moved to the Portland area about four years ago. Besides working at KV and freelancing as a classical bassist, Liz is also a mom of two little boys.

1. How long have you worked at Kennedy Violins?
Two years. Time flies!

2. What is your favorite thing about working at Kennedy Violins and why?
Working at Kennedy Violins in itself has been my favorite thing. By far, this has been the most fulfilling, rewarding, and enjoyable job I’ve ever had, and I constantly feel so blessed to work doing something I absolutely love. As a luthier and writer, I get to use my skills and knowledge as a musician in an artistic, creative way that is both fun and intellectually stimulating. Win, win!

I especially love working with my hands, which is why lutherie is such a great fit for me. I love the feel of sawdust and wood when I’m carving bridges and nuts and smoothing down fingerboards (click here to learn more about our professional set-up). I even enjoy washing my hands after work and seeing how much grime rinses off! There’s something strangely fulfilling about getting your hands dirty while getting up close and personal with these instruments. It’s like gardening, but we’re growing violins instead of snow peas or something.

Liz poses with the custom artwork she created just for us!
Liz poses with the custom artwork she created just for us!

3. What is your favorite instrument/product that Kennedy Violins carries and why?
That is a tough question. All the violins have different features worth loving. As one who works on the instruments, I have two favorites: the Ricard Bunnel G2 and G1 violins and the Anton Gerard violins. The Bunnels are fun because those are the ones I do the most finish work on, so each one is like a little craft project–and I am a die-hard sucker for crafts.

As far as the nicer violins go for more advanced players, I really love the Gerards because they are so, so beautiful with their tiger-flamed one-piece backs. The flame is just so stunning. And they sound great.

4. What is your favorite band/musician/composer?
While I love music by classic composers (especially Bach) and modern musicians (from jazz pianist Dave Brubeck to the folky Fleet Foxes to bust-a-move Beyoncé), my favorite and most meaningful musical experiences have been with musicians I know personally and with whom I’ve had the privilege to perform.

With that said, my favorite pop artist is Fresh Big Mouf, my favorite band is Fictionist, and my favorite composer is Christian Asplund. Each of these artists has been so influential when it comes to my own musical development and understanding of creativity.

5. If you didn’t play the bass, which instrument would you play?
I would play the bass. Which I do. I seriously think the bass is the best because 1) it’s so versatile and allows you to play any style of music (classical, jazz, rock, folk, etc.), 2) it’s so big it can beat up any other instrument, 3) it can serve as a boat in a flash flood situation, and 4) I play it, so you can trust me.

Liz (and James) at All-NW.
Liz (and James) at All-NW.

6. What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming year?
I’m actually moving to New York soon. (Don’t worry, I’ll still be working and writing remotely for KV!) I’m excited to check out the East coast music scene and meet new people.

7. What is something interesting that we don’t already know about you?
I’m half black and half Korean, which means I can make both family-recipe gumbo and family-recipe chajangmyeon (noodles with vegetables and black soybean paste).

8. What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working at Kennedy Violins?
Eat French fries with my boys.