Paganini, Part 4 of 4

Paganini's influence on composers and performers was remarkable and decisive.  Upon hearing Paganini perform in Vienna, Joseph Bohm was convinced that Paganini was the greatest virtuoso that had ever lived.  Bohm's experience convinced him not to seek greater achievement, but to retire from performing all together.  This was not the decisive effect that Paganini had …

Paganini, Part 3 of 4

From 1810 on, Paganini worked as a free agent of sorts, travelling across Europe and gaining superstar status among concert-goers and the general public alike.  After a debut concert at La Scala, Milan, a music critic recorded: He is without question the foremost and greatest violinist in the world. His playing is truly inconceivable.  He …

Smart Practicing

I have been practicing consistently for nearly 30 years now.  Three decades!  But seven years ago, my practicing and teaching changed for the better.  My violin teacher at the time was always referring to "organic" practice--a term that seemed fuzzy to me at best.  He was urging me to feel a natural connection to the …

I am a Magpie

"I am such a magpie", my British friend always says.  She isn't an obnoxious talker, as the phrase sometimes implies.  She is refined and careful in speech, but she does embody another definition of the phrase--one who collects indiscriminately.  She loves beautiful things: clothes, jewelry, flowers, scents, bags, decorating... She notices beauty and is quick to inquire about …

Paganini, Part 2 of 4

In continuation of one of my graduate papers, this is Part 2 of 4, Niccolò Paganini: The Virtuoso, and His Impact on Romantic Era Instrumentalists and Composers. In 1795, he spent a year studying in Parma with the concertmaster of the Royal Orchestra, Allesandro Rolla. He was still accompanied by his father at this point …

Paganini Tabloid Fodder

No doubt Paganini's astronomical fame spread like wildfire across Europe, fueled by outrageous suppositions and the eccentric and bizarre character that Paganini embodied.  It's the "fodder" that really drew the crowds, and the serious music critics, musicians, and composers followed in curiosity, and then fascination.  He inspired all to explore the limits of their instruments …

Paganini, Part 1

I was fascinated by Paganini, to say the least, as I delved into my Master of Music degree research.  He is a household name for any violinist, indeed any musician.  One look at his list of compositions and their frequency of performance is impressive enough.  And to look at the individual compositions provides a sense …

Books for Beginning Students

For my new students and Parents-- I love beginning students!  I love the shiny hope and enthusiasm for learning.  Taking on the violin, or any instrument, is a big endeavor and I love being part of that initial jump.  I love sustaining that excitement as progress occurs. Please see my post on the 9 Must-Have …

Nails, Fingers, Calluses

A few years ago I sat in a spa chair enjoying a much needed mani-pedi.  I rarely treat myself to a manicure because there just really isn't much there to work with.  I have small nail beds and have always kept them very short because of violin and piano.  The manicurist looked puzzled as she …

All in the Family

I come from a musical family.  My maternal grandmother loved the piano and played with great concert pianist skill.  My mother remembers listening to her mother play Chopin Waltzes and virtuosic compositions of Listz on their Steinway piano as she lay in bed as a child waiting to fall asleep.  I remember playing with toys …