Category Archives: Performance

Violin Nerd or Athlete?

Article by the World Renowned Violinist Clayton Haslop.

A few years ago I read a little article having to do
with repetitive movement injuries and instrumental
playing. In the course of it the writer made the
following observation.

Musicians are the athletes of small muscles.

Certainly true.

Yet, if the whole truth be told, we must also master some
pretty large muscles as well. Just think of quick
changes of string between the G and E strings, for
example. These require very precise control of the large
muscles surrounding the shoulder, and in our back.

You see the real story boils down to fine motor control,
whether the muscles behind a movement are small or large.

Now in thinking about this, and having watched and
listened to a very large number of violinists over the
years, I would like to offer an observation.

Consummate fine motor control is not simply about, say,
getting the bow from point A to point B and making it
sound good. This is simply not enough.

For one interested in REAL progress there are a couple of
additional questions that must be answered. One, am I
doing this movement in the most efficient way possible?
And two, will I be able to put it comfortably and easily
within the context of other movements coming before and
after it?

This is why, in my ‘Beginners Circle’ course, I have been
so detailed in the descriptions and demonstrations of the
skills underlying violin playing.

In order for you to progress, as I know you want to, you
must become as fully informed as I am when it comes to
these things.

In short, a real violinist leaves no room for
inefficiencies and wasted movements – i.e. ‘bad habits’
when he or she prepares for performance.

Yes, getting it right requires a little more patience and
perseverance up front – anything worthwhile in this world
generally does. Yet the payoffs down the road, in
fluency, ease of playing are huge. How could we want it
any other way?

All the best,

Clayton Haslop

P.S. Here’s a link to check out, if ‘taking it from the
top, to the top’ sounds like an idea whose time has come.
Enjoy!

http://violinblueprint.com/beginners-circle-course/

Clayton Haslop made his professional solo debut at age 20
under Sir Neville Marriner and the Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra touring six major cities of the western United
States. These critically acclaimed performances not only
lead to numerous engagements with orchestras, they also
resulted in his being appointed founding violinist of the
Los Angeles Piano Quartet at Marriner’s recommendation.

Haslop is active in the motion picture industry as solo
violinist and concertmaster on such films as Avatar, Up,
The Matrix films, Titanic, Ratatouille, The Curious Case
of Benjamin Button, Star Trek, The Incredibles,
Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, and The Perfect Storm.

As a student Clayton Haslop was coached
extensively by the legendary Nathan Milstein.

Sheet music is just a click away

What I like about playing my violin is that it is really a “social” instrument. I don’t consider myself a soloist, but I do enjoy making all different kinds of music at various levels with other people. I practice not only to improve my own abilities but also to contribute to the success of a group. It’s a pretty amazing way of communicating. Performing is fun, but it is still about getting together with friends and sharing music with people you may or may not know.

At Kennedy Violins, we often receive calls from customers who just received their new instrument and are looking for sheet music or other methods of getting started. We recommend that you take a look at sheetmusicplus.com. Sheet Music Plus offers all kinds of music from beginners’ books and DVD’s to the big classical concerto pieces to ensemble works. There are songs geared toward religious settings, holidays, ceremonies, movie soundtracks, pop and rock hits, and fiddle tunes.

With enough searching, you can even discover some websites that offer free sheet music. There is music available at all playing levels, and there are some pieces that are for small ensembles. It’s just a matter of clicking and printing. Here are a few examples:

Violin Sheet Music — This website is easy to use and has a variety of genres listed across the top. Some pieces even offer the piano accompaniment.

8notes.com — It is easy to pick songs to play based on playing level.

The Violin Site — Browse by composer and find other links to other sheet music sources.

And, using today’s technology, there are even YouTube videos that provide sheet music corresponding with sound.

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Before you know it, you will be able to take that new violin, viola, or cello and become part of a quartet, a bluegrass group, a folk band, or whatever your heart desires. Getting involved in music is different than picking up a book to read. It means finding someone to share it with.

Diverse Genres

There is a multitude of diverse musical genres that can be played on the violin, but some of the most popular are classical violin music and fiddle music.

With its rich history and complex form, playing classical violin music can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Playing with others in an orchestra is an excellent option once the necessary skills have been achieved. Opportunities to play as a soloist can range from recitals, alone or with a piano, or soloing with a full orchestra.

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There are many styles of fiddle music, and some of them include celtic, texas, bluegrass, and canadian. With fiddling, there are often different techniques involved depending on what style you are playing. There are numerous opportunities for playing different types of fiddle music, on your own or with others. Festivals, contests, and jams are just some such chances to play fiddle music.

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You do not have to limit yourself to one style, either. It is great fun to play a variety of different musical styles on the violin. Whatever type of music you choose to play, you will find it to be an extremely rewarding experience. Kennedy violins offers violins for any price category. Visit www.kennedyviolins.com to view our selection of instruments, and begin your musical journey today!

Where can my kid play?

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OK, so you’ve taken the plunge and started your child on a stringed instrument. They’ve practiced, gone to lessons, done group recitals, maybe even started playing in a school orchestra.

But what if your school doesn’t have a string program? Many school districts around the country are cutting back, and usually the first programs the school administration looks at for cuts are the arts programs – music, art, etc. And then they look at enrollment in those programs, the cost of keeping a specialist teacher on staff and the first thing you know, there’s no orchestra program. Gone, bye-bye, so sorry.

Of course, there’s still a band program because that usually also supports the sports programs, and heaven forbid the sports programs get cut! (Don’t get me started on the merits of arts education over football – that’s a whole blog unto itself.)

But, OK, you’ve got a kid who is really getting along rather nicely with their instrument and has no groups to play in. What to do?

It’s important that your child not only learn the instrument, but also to have opportunities to perform and play with other students – hopefully with students at varying levels of proficiency.

The very act of sitting in an orchestra surrounded by other musicians who play the same instrument you do, takes on a significance and adds an educational and experiential level that you simply can’t get while practicing alone or one-on-one with your teacher.

So playing opportunities are important to the development of any musician.

The obvious place to start is to ask your child’s teacher for recommendations, as they are the most intimately familiar with your child’s development and skill levels, and can readily assess your child’s readiness to step into the world of ensemble playing.

If you live in a larger metropolitan area, there are usually youth orchestra programs available.

The oldest youth orchestra in the United States resides in Portland, Oregon. Over the 80+ years of its existence, Portland Youth Philharmonic has developed a program comprised of several groups, from younger intermediate level players all the way through some of the most advanced college students.

This venerated program very early on became the prototype for youth orchestras across the United States and continues to train young musicians to the highest levels. In fact, there isn’t a major symphony in the United States that doesn’t have someone playing in it that came up through the Portland Youth Philharmonic. It truly is a training ground for very successful musicians.

Admittance is by audition only, but once admitted, you can be assured that your child will receive some of the best musical training available.  Parents are expected to be very involved and as dedicated to their child’s experience in the orchestra as their child.

Check out this video of a young woman who came up through the PYP system. You’ll see how it changed her life:

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This particular orchestra is, of course, only available to students in the Pacific Northwest, but there are many, many similar organizations around the country. One need only to consult Mr. Google to find lists upon lists of youth orchestras. One search yielded a pretty terrific site that covers the US, as well as many other countries. Musicalchairs.com is a great place to start your own research – you can find the listing of youth orchestras across the country here.

Even if you live in a small town, there are usually community groups available to play in that are organized by like-minded people who simply love to play and want to have a place to play.

Ask around, find a place to play and get your child involved. It will change your kid’s life, and give them something enriching and fun to do for the rest of their lives.

We at Kennedy Violins are all products of that early involvement and training and are here to help you bring your child up in a musical tradition that will stay with them their whole life.  From beginning instruments all the way through professional quality instruments, we are here to assist and encourage what we already know can be a life-enhancing activity.