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Little known fact, but April seems to be music month here in Canada.  On April 1st we had the Juno's (Canada's Music Awards), and on April 15th we have the ECMA's (East Coast Music Awards). 

But why would you bring that up, Dave? you ask.  Well, it's because my fiddle teacher is one of the Bb Sisters (as in B flat - the coolest of all keys) and they've been nominated for an ECMA in the Tradional/Roots Recording of the Year category! 

You can listen to excerpts from the album here (which are all fine examples of some of the fiddle styles popular in Canada):
My personal favourite would have to be Valse Oliver - so melancholy.

Good luck, Sherryl and Kimberley!!

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1 Responses
Posted: April 12, 2012

Jim Gross
I'm not sure whether or not I should have presented this particular video, but the reasons are these:  1. I've read questions of things to practice.  2.  are scales and arpeggios important,  and 3.  Do drones help?
What you see hear is a prime example of what Beth is talking about when she says, 'As soon as you start thinking about the left hand, the bow arm goes back to natural.
Sure enough I see here over and over as I concentrate on my fingering, I start pulling the bow back instead of pushing it forward.
I can see here that as I am not used to practicing for over two minutes straight, that I get sloppy.  This tells me that I need to practice playing continuously for longer periods of time.  I've also not played on the D and G strings other than just drawing long bows.  Here I see that practicing on a particular scale over this drone (in this case, the key of A) begins to broaden my horizons.
Using the Suzuki Book, I just practice on the A and E strings.  Here I begin to practice the key of A on the D and G strings as well.  I don't think it hurts to look a little bit into the future.
Anyway here's me practicing the key of 'A' scale over an 'A' cello drone.  All comments welcome.
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3 Responses
Posted: April 11, 2012

Hello Beth: In watching this video (Left Hand Squeezing: part 5) your comments on the use of the thumb reminded me of a concept that Dr. Todd Ehle teaches.

He says that the contact point should be just slightly above the middle joint, where there is a natural "shelf" as it were, where the neck can rest. This forms the contact and pivot point for the thumb.

Not in the sense of "cradling" further down into the thumb, or of "squeezing" into the hand, but rather a small "shelf" or ledge on the thumb itself, slightly above the middle joint. You also seem to be describing that in this video, although not in the same words. I like the concept of the "ledge", picturing just a slight area where the thumb can gain some purchase. This ledge may actually not be noticeable in very "fleshy" thumbs, but it is still there, as it is part of the joint.

This concept is really helpful for me. I also see that when I finish playing, there is a slight natural indentation directly at that point on my thumb, created by the pressure of the neck pressing into the flesh there.

Best wishes,



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0 Responses
Posted: April 11, 2012

Hello everyone, I just joined and wanted to say hi followed by a question please.

I had my first violin lesson a few days ago with a hardcore instructor who teaches classical violin in the Russion method (no idea what that means). Naturally I asked her for advice on my first violin purchase. She was 100% against perfection pegs, which according to my research makes life much easier, and she insisted that I avoid any shoulder rests.

So, I purchased a nice student violin with traditional pegs, fine tuners, and no shoulder rest. But it is extremely difficult to keep the violin's scroll at nose level without the aid of my hands, which she wants me to do. From my research, that is what the shoulder rests are for, but again, she is against that.

Is there a technique that someone could demonstrate please to hold the violin properly without the shoulder rests? She does it very well, but unfortunately I won't see her for another 4 weeks (she went on vacation) and I'm eager to progress.

By the way, I love this videos here, thank you! I plan on using this site to progress at my own pace and have her correct me, etc.

The thought of leaving her for another instructor occurred to me, but I get a sense that she knows her art very well and would be a good long-term instructor. She is just old school and not open to innovative new technology.


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14 Responses
Posted: April 6, 2012

For the past couple days I have been trying out a new tuner -  and I think I really like it.

Intonia is a nice program, but I dislike being tethered to my computer;  I am still in search of a reliable alternative

I am trying out the Peterson stroboclip.  It's marketed as a guitar tuner, but it has "sweetened" tunings, including one for violin.  If anyone else uses this, please share your opinions.  To my developing ear, my intonation is improving substantially. 

What I like: 
-not dependent upon computer access
-no wires connecting to a tuner(my Korg offers the option of a clip on wire to use in noisy environments)
-"strobe" dial is very intuitive for me, rotation to the left is flat, right is sharp, steady is in tune
-Violin setting (suggesting an alternative to equal tuning?)
-very portable
-easy clip on for direct line-of-sight while playing and use in noisy environments
-screen is large enough for us folks with fading eyesight
-seems to be a feasible alternative to a live teacher to give immediate feedback re: intonation

Unfortunately, at $69 it is not cheap - but will be worth it to improve my intonation and confidence

Anyone else with an opinion re: this tuner?
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6 Responses
Posted: April 10, 2012

Lily Mo

So I thought you all might be interested in meeting my two new babies.


The one of the left was born, by happy accident, a fortnight earlier than the one of the right.  After months of prevarication and much pondering I finally decided to get a violin again.  The last one disappeared to the pawn shop when I emigrated a decade ago.  I hadn’t played it in the previous decade.  This is a Gliga Gama and it is a revelation, so much nicer in tone than the mass=produced Chinese student violin shaped object I played.  It is also a 7/8.  Being five foot, short armed and tiny of hand I have found it so much easier to manoeuvre around the fingerboard.  I found my old full sized violin so disheartening and too far a leap from the ¾ I played as a kid.

So I have been playing for a week and on the plus side holding it still feels comfortable and natural.  On the negative side, I sound like Homer Simpson with Tourette’s (constant “doh, ugh,yikes”), as my intonation is way off as I am making the effort to not to cradle the neck of the violin.  I keep stopping to wince and fuss over all the bum notes.  I am beginning to think the way I hold the neck is getting a bit extreme.  In order to avoid squeezing or cradling the neck, my thumb is sometimes almost on the underside of the neck rather than on the side, especially when I am playing on the g string. Is that ok or could I be overdoing  neck squeezing avoidance?  All I can think about is my old violin teacher stuffing a pencil between the neck of the violin and my hand telling me to stop squeezing.

 When I cradle I have no problem with intonation but then vibrato is not happening.  I can feel  tension build as I start to press down on the fingerboard too hard.  Actually vibrato, like Elvis, has left the building, possibly the country for a long vacation.  I’m happy to accept that as it was always tenuous so I’d rather rebuild it properly over a period of time than fudge it.

Loving the site, it is really motivating me to practise each day. The explanations are fantastically detailed so I find I can understand so much more the whys and wherefores of successful practice. Also finding my other baby, Felicity, to be my greatest fan.  She seems uncaring about intonation.  She may have no grasp of just or even temperament but she gurgles through the practices and beams however badly I play,

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5 Responses
Posted: April 9, 2012

I recorded tonight's cantata.   Not too happy with my playing tonight, I just couldn't get "in the zone" for some reason and sound dead....even when I managed to hit the notes..lol.   Ah well, I get another chance on Sunday to do a better job.  I'm not terribly unhappy about it because I've done much worse...lol...but, I would like to breathe some life into those notes, even the ones I missed !   I also need to keep in mind Karen's suggestion to Johnnie about finishing notes.  

The second song I have a terrible awful time hearing the keyboard and flute so I was very unsure and and missed the timing in a few places so played very softly and....badly...lol....not to mention the harmonic I missed both times  x-p

I had the camera sitting on top of "something" next to where I was playing and pretty much right in front of the monitor so I wasn't sure how this was going to come out.  It's a video, but the only thing your going to see is the wall and a little snip of my skirt waving around as I played...lol. 

This isn't the whole program, just the first couple of songs...which moved from one to the other rather quickly and I didn't have opportunity to turn off the camera till there was a break for me....so listening to this whole thing isn't really required.  ;-)

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18 Responses
Posted: April 6, 2012

How do I know when I'm ready to begin learning vibrato? I don't want to "jump the gun" but I don't want to lag behind either. I'm comfortable in first position. My left hand is loosening up but still has room for improvement. What are the indications that one is ready to move on to vibrato? I've had people tell me I should move on to vibrato and I want to but I don't want to miss any steps in between. Any and all thoughts appreciated.

Lol, one music director told me the only way to play in tune was to use vibrato. I always thought that it was opposite, a good sense of intonation was necessary to develop a good vibrato.
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6 Responses
Posted: April 8, 2012

Beth Blackerby
I wanted to share a bit from my rehearsal this morning. A little rough, but it will shape up by tomorrow. We're playing in a service tomorrow a few movements from the Quartet For the End of Time by Olivier Messaien, who wrote this pieces when he was a POW in WWII. I didn't embed the video since I didn't ask permission from my colleagues, but you can follow the link. 

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12 Responses
Posted: April 7, 2012

Dear All,

Happy Easter.

Wish you all Happiness and Peace on this occasion.


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9 Responses
Posted: April 8, 2012

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