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Tag: viola

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You’ve just perfected a difficult passage of your favorite concerto and grab your smartphone to capture this monumental practice achievement. You run through the passage again and while not perfect, you still feel pretty good about your progress. You ...

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As the account goes, someone once asked child prodigy and virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz: “How are you able to play so well in tune?” To that, Heifetz replied something to the effect of: “I don’t. I adjust before anyone notices.” Although playing ...

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This seems to be the topic in my lessons studio lately. Especially as the Covid-19 pandemic wears on, the days and weeks seem to run together and many of us are looking to create some memorable success. With many other aspects of life sidelined, ...

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While there are many options for free sheet music online, giving us near instant gratification when we hear a melody we love on a movie or TV show or hear our teacher mention that we’ll be trying a new concerto or sonata soon, it’s usually worth it ...

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Violin methods like Suzuki, the Solos series by Barbara Barber, and exam systems like UK's ABRSM, Canada’s The Royal Conservatory, and Australia’s AMEB offer graded repertoire intended to systematically prepare students for the major concertos of the ...

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With the COVID-19 shutdowns and for many of us, more time to practice our musical instruments, it’s important to avoid mental burnout and physical injury by keeping our expectations in check. I’ve had some students, excited to see the progress they ...

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I’ve written a number of posts over the years discussing effective ways to practice and ideas for helping create better practice habits or reinvigorate a practice routine. With my students, I prefer to focus on the quality of practice over stressing ...

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Periods of overwhelm are common at any stage of learning to play the violin, viola, cello, fiddle, or any instrument for that matter. The technical aspects of any instrument, but especially violin family instruments, can be unforgiving, yet we all ...

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No matter our playing level or age, clean playing and fast playing are often at odds. Over my years of teaching the violin and viola, I’ve noticed that students tend to fall into two camps - those who try to play near tempo from the start, often with ...

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The age old story goes - you set up your bow hold, perfectly, just as your teacher showed you, but as soon as you start playing, the pinkie finger stiffens, or worse a joint fails and it buckles. Your tone starts to suffer. Your hold feels tense, and ...

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Not all shifts are created equal. And no, we’re not talking nightgowns!

Learn how to refine your violin or string family shifting technique for optimal expression! Did you know that the finger you “travel” on during a shift makes a subtle but ...

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Learn to adjust your fingerings to harmonize perfectly with open string drones, be they in fiddle tunes or presented as "easy" double stops in classical pieces. Sounds simple? Not so much! In this episode if the Violin Geek Podcast, find ...

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In December I was interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times, Catherine Saint Louis, about teaching violin/viola over Skype. Today, the article, “With Enough Bandwidth, Many Join the Band” made the front page, A1. Very exciting to be included!

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Another excerpt from my Improve Your Bowing Technique online course is featured in the December 2011 edition of Strings magazine! Want to move your bow from G to D? Or perhaps E to G? Or...A to E? No matter where you’re rocking your bow, your upper ...

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An excerpt from my Improve Your Bowing Technique online course is featured in the November 2011 edition of Strings magazine. As the foundation of your bowing technique, how you hold your bow can mean the difference between beautiful tones and perpetual ...

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About once a year I do a search of other string teachers’ policies and rates in similar socio-economic areas. From the information I gather through these searches and through talking with other teachers, it’s clear that despite their policies, all ...

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In this Violin Geek Podcast series I cover all the most important elements of good practice, including the need to create a dedicated practice space, and to consider how we schedule practice and think about practice when we're doing other things. We ...

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As the holidays approach it may be time to take advantage of seasonal sales and surprise the budding string player in your life (maybe even yourself) with a new instrument. First things first though. What size? A string teacher can size students the ...

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In these very first episodes of the Violin Geek Podcast you'll learn to train your ears for excellent intonation on your violin or viola. String teacher Laurel Thomsen helps you tune the nine basic finger patterns found in all our major and minor scales ...

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If you’re a string player, have you ever thought about left and right side independence? Perhaps not. The violin family instruments require such asymmetrical positions and motions, I suspect that many string players have never considered how interconnected ...

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This Renaissance carol, “Riu Riu Chiu”, has been going around in my head for weeks! I recorded this version today on Garage Band, uploaded it to YouTube (my first time!!), and wanted to share it with everyone in honor of California's Spanish heritage. ...

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I have performed a few times now with my new violin pickup and am very excited about the warm, natural sound quality it produces. I have also been enjoying the freedom it gives me to move with the music rather than worry about standing still and keeping ...

Please email Laurel at laurel@laurelthomsen.com if you have a violin, viola, fiddle, music biz, or practice related question you’d like answered in the blog or on a podcast, have a story or insight to share, or if you’d like to inquire about violin, viola, or fiddle lessons with Laurel, in-person or via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

The Violin Geek Blog is a free resource and always will be. We also don't sell advertising, meaning that what you read is a labor of love. If you'd like to support Laurel Thomsen's efforts and help ensure they continue, please consider making a donation. Thanks for your support!


Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

Site by Laurel Thomsen
Photography by Michelle Magdalena

laurel@laurelthomsen.com
831-224-0913
Skype: laurelthomsen

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