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 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 …

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 …

9 Must-Haves Before You Start Violin Lessons

You’ve decided to begin violin lessons!  You are no doubt feeling excited and anxious, hopeful and determined.  In addition to having a violin and bow, here is a helpful list of things you need before your first lesson: Violin Rosin.  Your bow needs it and it is a vital part of what you need to …

Quavers, Crochets and a Few Travels

I was totally lost.  In the middle of a rehearsal with the Harrogate Philharmonic, the conductor abruptly stopped the Mendelssohn symphony and directed us to correct the articulation of the semiquavers in measure 99 or so.  My nose crinkled and a look of utter confusion spread across my face.  I had never heard of a …

3 Steps to Find the Best Violin Teacher

If you have decided you want to learn to play the violin, or you already play but need a better teacher, then this post is for you.  Choosing the right teacher for your goals and needs is so important because it may be a long-lasting relationship that will impact your love of the violin and …

How to Progress as a Violinist

I was reading a great article from Strings Magazine a while back about what drives the violinist's “fascination” with Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas.  The writer interviewed and presented the expertise of some of my favorite violinists today.  I loved it.  One particular quote from violinist, Mark Kaplan, really resonated with me as I have been revisiting …

Henryk Szeryng

  There is so much depth in most simple teachings from Henryk Szeryng.  The meaning becomes increasingly profound as skill increases in playing.  I was gifted some papers several years ago by my violin teacher.  It was a gift he had received from his teacher many years earlier when he was taking lessons at the …

Mother Violinist

  "How do you do it?" was the chatter back stage with the featured soloist, Judith Ingolfsson.  She had a baby of about 5 months old,  and a nanny, with her as she rehearsed with the orchestra before the concerts.  A highly unusual site in the violinist world.  The other women violinists of the orchestra …