Monthly Archives: June 2015

This is my favorite violinist, Janine Jansen

This is my favorite violinist, Janine Jansen

When you search iTunes to buy classical music, it can be overwhelming with all of the artists and orchestras. After listening to many string players, I have found a few of my favorite players.

In terms of violinists,there are so many artists to listen to, some good and some who are not worth your time and money. There is no solid “best” violinist, but the most technically refined is Hilary Hahn. Although she may be lacking in musicality and personality,her tone, technique, and virtuosity are commendable. On the other side of the spectrum, Anne- Sophie Mutter is very musical and has good virtuosity as well. Her trademark quality is her slide between shifts, which is good for romantic music, but I could do without it in her Mozart concertos. My all time favorite violinist, who I believe has Hahn’s technique and Anne Sophie’s musicality (minus the sliding) is Janine Jansen. She has perfect technique and intonation and her musicality is so amazing that she doesn’t even have to worry about technique during a performance, so she can just focus on the interpretation. My second all time favorite violinist is , Lisa Batiashvilli, who I think has similar qualities in her playing to Janine Jansen.

For violists, I know a little less.

The composer Paul Hindemith was also a virtuoso violist, but there are not many recordings of him. A great violist today is Kim Kashkashian, who has many recordings today that I really have enjoyed although I am not a violist and don’t know as many great violists. As far as cellists go, Yo Yo Ma is of course fantastic. His recordings have both technique, class, and musicality. Aliza Weilerstein is a younger cellist who I have heard a few times and enjoy her music greatly. From the older times, Pablo Casals is just wonderful as well. And finally, Jaqueline du Pre, who died very young but still had a fantastic career. Her recording of Elgars cello concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra which Du Pre recorded at the early age of 20 is fantastic! All of these string musicians are worth listening to and spending money on and although everyone has different standards of what they want in a musician, these are some of my favorite players.

*Disclaimer~ I am a violinist and know a lot about famous and great violinists, but all opinions are my own and I accept that every musician has their own opinions.

Basic Practicing Tips and Tricks

Practicing is something that all musicians seeking excellence have to do a lot of. Not only do we have to practice a lot, but we have to learn to do it well. Practicing is an art that I have by no means mastered, but I will share a few of the tricks I have learned over the years.

Tip 1. I know that we all want to sound good in our practice, but if we want to sound good in performance, that is just not realistic. Don’t be afraid to take your piece at an adagio tempo and play each measure 50-100 times to solidify intonation, tone, style, bowing, etc. SLOW PRACTICE IS YOUR FRIEND!

Tip 2. If you are playing a legato/slurred passage, play it short and staccato to hear each individual note better. If your passage is short, staccato, or off the string, play it legato and connected to hear the lines better.

Tip 3. In order to get the intonation to be perfect, you MUST know what note you are aiming for next. Sing the part with difficult intonation as well as play it on the piano. Once you can sing it perfectly, you can play it even better!

Tip 4. String instruments! If you are having difficulty with a string crossing, write down the open string that name that corresponds with the string the notes are on and try that for a while. Once you understand that, play the real version.

Tip 5. String Instruments! For a troublesome shift, take a pause in between the notes where the shift is and as you repeat this, gradually shorten pause.

Tip 6. Play everything in your piece slowly until it is perfect. This may mean spot work, like I explain in the first tip, or playing through the whole page slowly until it’s perfect then move the metronome up a little up and continue in this fashion until you hit perfection at the correct tempo.

Tip 7. Enjoy yourself and remember that the more you practice, the less tedious it will become!