7 Violin Camp Programs for Adults 

There are lots of programs and string camps for kids but this article from string magazine gathers 7 different programs which can help to improve your playing as an adult. 

I like number 3, Kneisel Hall’s Adult Chamber Music Institute best as it is so hard to find a group of musicians to better your chamber experience and playing.  And this provides the excellent opportunity to learn and expand your repertoire at the same time, a chance to meet likeminded musicians all in the love of music.  Do read on here! 

What makes a good Violin Teacher? Can I Learn the violin all by myself without formal lessons?

 I sometimes get this question from friends and people I meet with existing violin teachers or if they are looking for one- How would they know if the teacher is teaching the right content in the lessons? Are they good or are they bad?  Infamously, I do not take up students of friends or relatives and would rather to have them learn from someone else. (though it has become somewhat challenging to have this policy as most of my friends with kids now have their kids at the age of learning the violin.)  The familiarity sometimes is to a disadvantage rather than an advantage but of course there are lots of exceptions.

To answer this question, is the must read blog article by Nathan Cole, it covers how you would know if your violin teacher is teaching the right lesson content or proves to have the adequate knowledge about the violin and how this works to establish a suitable playing posture advantageous to the student. (Having said this, about 90% of students that I teach having returned to Singapore has an incorrect playing posture which would be disadvantageous to fulfilling a better violin technique.  I certainly must start with my violin videos tutorials to cover these initial hiccups to benefit more!)   I agree fully and put into practice, that the end goal of any teaching process, is for the student to be independent and free of the teacher.  Essentially, every lesson I take with my student would be a step closer in their gaining independence to be self taught!

This would also answer partly another very frequently asked question if one can learn violin by themselves. With YouTube and the internet with countless books written on beginner violin and information shared about playing and learning the violin, why not?  But everyone has a different physiology make up – different shoulder shapes, differing finger lengths (longer thumbs or pinkies and so on) etc, so there will be generally some guidelines on how to hold a bow or violin or how to execute a staccato bow, but a better confirmation will be with a good teacher who has himself mastered the art of the violin.  Playing the violin is really likened to being an Artist, I can teach you how to do the (bowings) brush strokes and recommend the colours (tones), but at the end of the day music is made entirely from the heart, and it would be so subjective from one student to another the corrections to be done and praise to be given.  So to answer the question, yes, a good teacher is not someone that you cannot do without if you are aspiring to learn the violin properly or well efficiently.

One of the most important things that a teacher ought to teach his students is, therefore, the technique of good practice.  He has to impress on his students that practice has to be a continuation of the lesson, that it is nothing but a process of self-instruction in which, in the absence of the teacher, the student has to act as the teacher’s deputy, assigning himself definite tasks and supervising his own work. A teacher who limits himself to pointing out the mistakes and does not show the proper way to overcome them fails in the important mission of teaching the student how to work for himself.

Ivan Galamian – Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching

How to tell if my Violin is of real antique value or a useless copy

Happy 2017 to all my readers! May this year be a fruitful one. I have been so caught up with enjoying the festivities and spending time with family over the holidays that it has been ages since my last entry. Also I would really like to start with those violin tutorial videos- I’m thinking of recording the Suzuki violin school volume 1 songs as a start to the series or 30-50 videos I’m intending to put up.  So keep a look out!

Well first though I want to write about this article that recently caught my eye! I have always thought that it would be obvious when something is a copy or not to an expert till I read this interview, the examples are interesting too and we can clearly see how some of these violins could be mistakenly believed to be authentic by someone who does not have enough experience. These are REAL experts! And even so they must carry with them years of experience and a large load of violins that have been reviewed in order to build up knowledge to deem what is what and the real deal.

Certainly completely different to a professional musician who would probably be only interested in the outcome of the sound and the playability of the instrument. Having said this, I have tried real Guarneri Del Gesu and Stradivarius violins (and a cello) even an Amati! And they have indeed this vintage timbre that is just lacking in a modern instrument like mine. (I play a 1966 Italian maker modeled after a Guarneri del gesu) These days with technology for reproduction is of course debatable if time really does cause a violin to have that aged sound that new instruments do not.

I had an interesting chat recently with a local luthier, Sin Teck who had the opinion that the rich sonorous tones could perhaps be due to cracks like for example to the bass bars and new instruments being completely intact would not have those imperfections that actually in irony perfect the tones and timbre produced to give that rich quality tone only felt in old antique instruments. 

Well not wanting to veer too off course from the topic of authenticity of old instruments, the article here is certainly a good read. I have so many more articles I have read of late I want to blog about *sweats* and am really eager to share it here when I find time to! 

In my opinion about this topic, if your violin bears no name to it and you still love how it is played and the sounds it produces, music is a very subjective thing and I would strongly encourage you to keep it as a gem as much so as if it were a $10 million dollar strad! For all violins are unique just like people and no two are alike.