Archive | Practicing

Three Classic Recordings of Gossec’s Gavotte

Let’s finish the week with three classic recordings of the charming, bubbly gavotte which concludes Book 1 of the Suzuki Violin repertoire. It’s a piece you may recognize, even if you’re unfamiliar with its composer- the now largely forgotten François-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829). Originally written for the 1786 opera, Rosine, Gossec’s Gavotte found its way into this 1938 Looney […]

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French composer Marin Marais (1656-1728)

Who Wrote “Lully’s” Gavotte?

Towards the end of Volume 2 of the Suzuki Violin Repertoire, there’s a charming little gavotte attributed to the French baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687). It’s based on a 1904 arrangement by the German violinist Willy Burmester, which you can hear in this old recording played by Carl von Garaguly. It’s likely that Shinichi Suzuki heard this arrangement in his […]

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An Inside Look at Violin Making in Cremona

Early last month, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker’s excellent 60 Minutes piece, The City of Music, profiled the long history of violin making in Cremona. The small Italian city has produced some of the world’s finest violins, including instruments by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and luthier families such as Amati (active between 1537 and 1740), Guarneri, and Bergonzi. Itzhak […]

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Zukerman on the Poetry of Tuning

Violinist and violist Pinchas Zukerman shares some interesting thoughts about tuning in this excerpt from a masterclass. For Zukerman, tuning is more than a necessary mechanical process. It’s the merging of two contrasting elements: the bow, representing the “practical,” and the violin, representing the “emotional.” Most importantly, tuning and warming up should be approached musically. […]

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Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela at the 2007 BBC Proms

Ten Tips for Youth Orchestra Students

At its best, orchestra playing is a unique combination of artistry and technical craft. It’s a skill which develops over time. As musicians play together, they develop increasing sensitivity and cohesiveness. With the help of a visionary conductor, a disparate group of highly skilled individuals is forged into a team. Whether you’re a member of […]

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"Mignon" postcards were popular in Europe after Ambroise Thomas' 1866 opera.

Gavotte from "Mignon"

If you’re a Suzuki violin student, you know the charmingly quirky Gavotte from “Mignon” by the transcription in Book 2. You may be less familiar with the piece’s composer and origin. Mignon was a wildly successful 1866 French comic opera by Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896), longtime director of the Paris Conservatory. The three-act opera is based on Goethe’s novel, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. […]

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God Is in the Details

“God is in the details,” said Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), one of the most significant architects of the twentieth century. Mies followed a modernist “less is more” aesthetic, which eliminated decoration and stripped architecture down to fundamental elements of structure and proportion. The results were serenely powerful and soulful monuments such as New […]

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Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts

What is the source of a creative idea? What is the link between art and spirituality? How can we unlock our inner muse, find joy in the creative process and unleash the full potential of our imagination? Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book, Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts delves into these questions. Nachmanovitch […]

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Four Points of Relaxation for Violin Playing

Relaxation is the key to all technique. Often when we’re on the spot trying to perform our best, the natural tendency is to tense up. The “fight or flight” instinct is activated. In violin playing, tension blocks the natural springy weight of the bow arm, leading to smaller tone and reduced control. Tension in the […]

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Vibrating Strings

Have you ever wondered what a vibrating violin string looks like in slow motion? Here is an interesting demonstration from the Discovery Channel. Notice that the E and G strings are vibrating sympathetically with the bowed A and D strings. As string players, our goal is always to draw the most resonant sound from the […]

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