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!
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.
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!
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!
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 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!
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.
Photo Contest Rules
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.
All entries must be received through the Kennedy Violins, Inc web site by 11:59PM Pacific Time on June 30, 2013.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Intrinsic motivation, or an inner desire or interest to do something, usually for the sake of enjoyment or self-satisfaction.
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.
“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!
This weekend I had the great opportunity to travel to New York City and spend time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was especially excited about their wing dedicated to musical instruments with some incredible stringed instruments on display, including original violins by makers Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri as well as other 16th century violins from the Cremona school in Italy.
Evolution of the Modern Violin
The Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivari families actively produced instruments between 1550 and 1744 in the same region of Cremona, during which time the modern violin as we know it came to life. While string instruments have evolved over time with various body shapes and string counts, very few changes have been made to the violin that was standardized during this time as a four-stringed instrument with its signature shape and size, strung in perfect fifths (E, A, D, G).
You may notice slight differences in design between the Amati, Guarneri, and Stradivarius violins, but they are clearly instruments in same family with the same tuning, string count, and contours. These violins seem so familiar because they are; almost all violins today are made with Stradivari, Amati, or Guarneri body designs.
For example, if you take a look at all the violins we carry at Kennedy Violins, you’ll notice that they are all made with the same standard measurements (body length, string length, string height, fingerboard length and so on—take a look at our violin measurements chart) used by luthiers today. Most are made and shaped with an original Stradivari design.
Preserved Historical Violin
As you may know, some instruments preserved from these hundreds of years ago are still in use. Most notably, there are 650 Stradivari violins still in existence, ranging in value from between hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. In 2010 a Stradivari violin sold at auction for $3,600,000, a record high.
Updating to a Modern Setup
Even though these 16th, 17th, and 18th century violins are in tact and in use, the ones in performance today have actually been modernized with fittings that make them playable by today’s standards.
I found the diagram below so fascinating. From it we learn that a Stradivarius violin in performance today has been OPTIMIZED to compete with modern violins to catch up with the evolution of the violin that has taken place over the centuries. These evolutionary changes in setup have made the violin more easily playable with more projection and better sound quality.
Updates from the Baroque setup to the modern setup include
a new neck that angles back
a longer fingerboard that allows performance in higher octaves
a modern bridge
new strings, often synthetic with metal winding instead of strings made from animal gut
a modern tailpiece
a longer bass bar in the interior of the violin
What’s the Same?
What remains “untouched”? Essentially, the body of the violin (back, face, and ribs) and the scroll/pegbox. This may not sound like much, but it’s the body of the instrument that most greatly affects the sound. The quality of wood and the precise gradations in the carving and thickness of the plates make these instruments sound like they do.
In this sense, the restored Baroque instruments retain their authenticity because no one can replicate the carving of the plates done by the original masters themselves.
The Legacy Lives On
If you get a chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or other museums throughout the world with string instruments on display, definitely take the opportunity to see these preserved treasures. Better yet, you can hear a Stradivarius performed live (or on record) by modern violinists including Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman.
To see and hear these pieces of history alive is truly a privilege as we remember the master makers who brought to life music as we know it today. Here’s to the continuation of their legacy through the practice and performance of music forever!
Each of these articles brings up some very good points about the past, present, and future of classical music. So is it dying? And if there is any truth to the conclusion that classical music is a dying art, is there anything we can do to stop it?
HOW TO KEEP CLASSICAL MUSIC ALIVE
I don’t know what all the statistics are — ticket sales, CD and digital music sales, concert attendance, radio traffic — but I do know that the best way to
keep a plant alive is to water it.
lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.
accomplish something is the work hard.
make friends is to meet people.
learn an instrument is to practice.
So when you apply this principle of ACTION in the quest to keep classical music alive, the trick to making a difference in the music community is to do something about it.
INSTRUMENTS IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
At Kennedy Violins we are really serious about keeping classical music alive. That’s why our biggest priority is to get quality instruments into the hands of anyone and everyone who has any desire to play. We try our best to provide instruments, rentals, and lessons at the most affordable price for the quality because we want to give EVERYONE a chance to make music without unnecessary costs as a stumbling block.
I’ll use a gardening analogy. If you want to grow a garden full of produce or flowers or fruits, the first step is to plant seeds. Likewise, if you want beautiful music to be produced in your community, the first step is to get instruments into the hands of the people, especially the children.
Not to say that children are the only one who can play, but the majority of professional musicians who have found success started playing at a young age.
THE THREE ACTIONS THAT PERPETUATE MUSIC
Orchestra concert attendance, ticket sales, and symphony bankruptcies are only a portion of the picture. In the grand scheme, the continuation of music as a lasting tradition is based on three foundational elements:
Education – In order for music to be produced, musicians must be taught music performance, theory, and history.
Performance – In order for music to be produced, musicians must perform what they have learned.
Listening – In order for music to be appreciated, it must be listened to by people who care.
With that said, there are SO many ways to promote the ongoing exercise of these three foundational elements. I would encourage everyone to take part in these exercises by learning, playing, and listening to music. It’s all about INVOLVEMENT and faith in the lasting value of classical music as an important tradition worth perpetuating. May we each do all we can to support this worthwhile and enriching art.
One reason not to touch your bow hair: Cheeto dust! (Photo by James Lee)
Stop picking your nose, don’t talk with your mouth full, be nice to your brother, look at me when I’m talking to you, don’t text and drive, mind your manners. Ugh. Minding your Ps and Qs is so much work!
But in the end, developing good habits and manners help us to become better people. Likewise, in order to become a better musician, there are a few Ps and Qs that will help you be on your best musical behavior. If you’re a string teacher, these are also helpful reminders to share with your students during those first lessons and beyond.
Tune first. Have your teacher tune for you, or if you’ve learned to tune your own instrument, take the time to do so before you practice. Because your fingers move to adjust the pitch of your instrument, you don’t want to develop muscle memory with your fingers in the wrong place because your open strings were out of tune.
Don’t touch the bow hair. Definitely keep muddy or Dorito-cheese-powdered hands away from the bow (and the instrument)! There are myths about this general rule, but don’t worry–if you accidentally touch the bow hair, it won’t disintegrate. The reason touching the hair with your fingers is discouraged is because natural oils from your fingers or skin will transfer to the bow and cause the hairs to “slicken.” This greasiness (think of how greasy your own hair gets after not washing it for days) compromises the dry texture of the hair that grips to the string and picks up rosin. For kids practicing right after playing or eating, you may even want to instill the habit to wash hands before making music.
Avoid over-tuning the strings. They might pop.
Never over-tighten the bow. While the horsehair is stretchy and could take it, it’s the stick that can’t! Regularly over-tightening the bow will warp the stick and ruin the crafted arch of the bow that makes it responsive. Over-tightening may also cause the tip of the bow to snap off. Ouch!
Always loosen the bow hair after playing. This is Point 4, Part 2–see above. Even if you didn’t over-tighten your bow, loosen the hair until some of the strands are hanging loose to relieve the stress on the stick. This will also prevent the arch and strength of the wood from being compromised.
Stand (or sit) up straight. There are so many great reasons to have good posture no matter what you’re doing, really! But because playing a stringed instrument is a physical activity much like a sport, its important that you hold your instrument and yourself properly to promote good playing technique.
Have a pencil handy. Write things down so you’ll remember them.
Keep your instrument in its closed (and zipped!) case when not in use. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen someone pick up their violin case, not realizing it was unzipped, and the violin and accessories come cascading out onto the floor. Keep your case nearby when you practice so that when you step away you have a safe place to put your instrument down. P.S. Avoid leaving your instrument on a chair! Like a pair of glasses, it’s bound to be sat upon.
Don’t let your instrument get too hot. Or cold for that matter. But heat–even from leaving your instrument in the sun, can warp the instrument, damage or melt the varnish, melt your rosin, cause cracks, etc. Store your stringed instrument like you would potatoes–in a cool, dry place.
DON’T GIVE UP! Enough said.
Do you have more tips for beginners? Contact us or drop in at Kennedy Violins anytime. We love hearing from you. Happy playing!
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t take anything too seriously. Keep calm. Don’t panic. Everything is going to be just fine.
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!
First, if you have interest in opportunities for dual degrees at specific schools such as Julliard, Eastman, Oberlin, or any other university of interest, I encourage you to speak with or e-mail directly a representative from the school such as an academic counselor.
From my personal experience though, I did try to double major and it didn’t turn out to be an ideal experience. To finish both majors would have taken six years instead of four, so I ended up with my music degree and an English minor, finishing in five years instead.
In my opinion, double majoring is not ideal because you aren’t able to fully immerse yourself in both studies. If you try, you’ll likely be overwhelmed, over-committed, and stressed which may lead to an exhausting and negative academic experience. Not to mention that over-committing cuts into practice time and puts grades at risk. If a student does double major, sacrifices made in each area of focus can lead to incomplete focus in each major. Getting two degrees in one go can be done, but often with each major at the expense of the other.
A comment was made on this post reiterating the truth that just because you don’t major in something (like theatre) doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in it or even go on to become a professional in that field. My sister is a great example–she studied photography and now works as a food photographer for a major network. But she’s also very passionate about acting and musical theater. In addition to her day job as a staff photographer she has taken acting lessons and voice lessons from professional coaches, auditioned for musicals, and landed roles in off-Broadway productions–with pay. Way to be a pro in both fields!
So, in essence, my advice to those interested in double majoring would be to choose one thing to focus on for four (or however many) years and really, really get the most out of that focused education. Maybe minor in the other interest. But there is still plenty of time beyond that undergraduate education to pursue more education in other areas whether in a university setting or a private setting. I tried double majoring because I could, but it didn’t add to my collegiate experience in the way I expected it would.
Good luck! I wish each of you great success in any and every endeavor you pursue!
Again, visit us at kennedyviolins.com, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-800-779-0242 with any questions!