Posts Tagged ‘classical music’

The world of classical music has changed a lot, since I was last playing on a regular basis. I mean a lot.

forScoreExample 1: When I got my viola repaired I purchased a backup-bow. It is not made of pernambuco wood. In fact, it is not made of wood at all. It’s made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber!

Example 2: I can get sheet music online, in digital format, and display the music on my iPad. A lot of parts in the public domain can be found, free of charge, too. No more stacks of oversized sheets cluttering my office.

This second item is very exciting to me–I can have Symphonic Karaoke sessions!–but I was not satisfied with the way the standard iPad applications (iBooks, Kindle, DocsToGo, etc.) handled sheet music, so I went in search of a more suitable application. (more…)

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NataliaWhile I’m taking a hiatus from writing (and if you didn’t realize I’m on hiatus, you haven’t been paying attention), I’ve been reconnecting with the musical avocation I put down when I picked up the author’s pen.

David T Stone and company did an excellent job repairing my instruments, including fixing the divots left in my viola when a mic boom fell on us during a performance. Natalia (my viola) looks wonderful, and my violin is once again in playing condition.

I, however, am not. (more…)

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SwordleafThe last time I walked into David T. Stone‘s luthier shop, I didn’t have much money. It was a quarter century ago, and I was going through tough financial times. My wife’s health prevented her from working outside the home, we were suffering through a long string of cheap but unreliable cars, and we were trying simultaneously to pay off our credit card debt and save the down payment on a house, all on a single salary. So, back then, when I brought my viola into David’s shop, I was just there for the bare minimum.

As a semi-professional musician (principal viola for the Bellevue Philharmonic and member of a couple working string quartets), the bare minimum meant two things: cat-gut and horse-hair.

Strings and bows.   (more…)

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A Sixty-Fourth NoteI used to be a musician. In my early years, it was my destiny, my fate, and my doom.

It was my destiny because of my mother. Her father was a music teacher and she herself played piano. She encouraged all her children to enjoy and play music, leading us in “kitchen band” sessions where we accompanied her rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” with our percussion section made of pots and spoons. I showed an aptitude for it, and thus I graduated from a ladle-struck saucier to a real instrument: a violin.

Fate stepped in when it became clear that my aptitude was actually a talent. In addition to playing in school orchestra (back when every public school had a music program) I also began private lessons. These torture sessions–scales, arpeggios, the dreaded Kreutzer etudes–were held in the back room at a neighborhood music shop. The shop was a dark, cluttered space that smelled of rosin and slide grease. Instruments hung on the walls like hunter’s trophies, and the glass case was filled with paraphernalia of all kinds, from strings to reed cutters to mutes of all sorts. Mr. Meacham, my violin teacher, was a stern, unhappy man with curly grey hair and a prim smile that never reached his eyes. He set a very high bar which I approached but never met; it always seemed to be just out of reach, moving higher each time my skills improved. (more…)

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Misty MorningThere is one piece of music that is so imbued with power, so pregnant with history, so…epic…within the landscape of my mind, that it never fails to raise the hackles on my neck and make my vision swim with tears of memory.

I hope you have one of these because for me, when it begins, when I hear it after an age-long absence, I am instantly transported. I am young. I am vital. I am uplifted by the notes. I feel the chill of the dawn air. I hear the notes echo across the decades.

This video was taken this past July 4th, at Cazadero Music Camp, in the California redwoods. It is the traditional 4th of July reveille. played to rouse the campers from their sleep. But I remember when the tradition began. (more…)

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A Sixty-Fourth NoteBenjamin Zander is a zealot, and that’s a good thing. He’s zealous about music, specifically classical music.

If you’ve read this blog or my bio, you know I spent many years (decades, really) playing classical music. It was, I thought at the time, the only thing I’d ever do. I played several instruments over the course of my career (but what I always wanted to do was direct!) and though I eventually traded in my viola bow for a St Dupont fountain pen, classical music is still a primary element in my life.

Benjamin Zander knows the power of classical music, first-hand, and has been installing that power in young musicians for nearly 50 years, and in this TED Talk from 2008, he shows us how he does it. (more…)

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