As some of you may know, Music Theory (the explanations and meanings about how music works, and the science and notations that explain it) really interests me. In college, music theory was somewhat of a challenge to me. Because it was such a challenge to me, I ended up taking more of an interest in it after college. I see now how vital this knowledge is for young musicians. I have grown passionate about incorporating music theory into every lesson I teach. No matter what age or level of my students, I try to include theory. To be a fully engaged and educated musician, it is important to understand the language of music. Understanding theory helps one relate to other instrumentalists in any genre or style. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of ‘I’m learning the violin’, and then only think about playing the instrument. In reality, being an instrumentalist is just one part of being a musician. Yes, you need to learn the intricacies of your instrument. But what about rhythm, scales, intervals, harmonies, chords, vocabulary, ear training and notation?
Recently I have found some more great resources to use during lessons. If you have questions about them, please let me know.
For me, there will always be more to learn. This is somewhat intimidating, but also exciting!
Happy Thursday everyone!!
Last weekend I purchased some flowers at the Fulton St. Farmer's Market and had the urge to do something creative. Enjoy some pictures I took of my violin with these beauties.
What is your theme song for September? Do you ever go through old CDs, playlists, or memories and see certain songs linked to certain times in your life? Music can shape our seasons, and reflect the time of life we are in. It can trigger memories and emotions. Or the reverse, memories and emotions can trigger a song to resonate with us. What song is your theme song for September 2017? Maybe it's not just one, maybe it's a genre, maybe it's an artist, maybe it's multiple. Comment below what your September Songs are.
Students, Friends, & Followers....I highly recommend you all check out the following group: ESME.
ESME stands for Eclectic String Music Ensemble. They are an amazing group. Gene Hahn on violin and Jeremy Crosmer on cello are two amazingly talented musicians and composers/arrangers. To my students, I highly recommend their CD. Be on the lookout for some of their educational opportunities as well. You can follow them on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/esmelivemusic
On Thursday, August 17th I was able to see and hear The Piano Guys at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre with a dear friend. It was an amazing experience for two reasons, the setting & the performance.
First off, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a venue like none other! It is a venue built into the unique sandstone cliff formations just 15 miles west of Denver, Colorado. At 6,450 above sea level it is a zone between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, very different terrain than that of Grand Rapids, Michigan at 640 ft. above sea level. The land for the Red Rocks Amphitheatre was purchased in 1927 and formally dedicated in June of 1941 and has a capacity for 9,525 people.
The rock formations are beautiful and at night you are able to see the city lights of Denver. During this particular concert, we even saw two shooting stars in the night sky! It was absolutely stunning. The cliffs are made of Aztec Sandstone. The stone is often red due to iron oxide - rust, and other minerals in the rock.
As for the performance, The Piano Guys are one of those classically trained groups of musicians that are being innovative with their performances. I love that they use their knowledge of old and new and find a way to harmonize them together, literally and figuratively. They are not only gifted musicians, but they are also talented and funny stage performers sure to keep a captive audience. I was intrigued to find out that their group was formed as they tried to find new and interesting ways to sell pianos by creating YouTube videos of performances in unexpected places. What a great success story & what a great experience!
Enjoy some pictures :)
Exciting news, I've been able to work with Ariel Vincent and Zhaojin Xiang on a recording session. If you would like to check it out go to the link below and scroll down to 'Classy Classical': https://www.arielvincentmedia.com/audio
Larissa Fall, Violinist
Zhaojin Xiang, Pianist
Ariel Vincent, Recording Artist
I work for the Grand Rapids Symphony, and in the summer we have a concert series called Picnic Pops. It is such a fun experience to be outdoors and hear fabulous live music. Enjoy some pictures I took of the Women Rock concert in July. These vocalists had some powerful voices and I loved the rock genre with a live symphony orchestra. The technical skill of the symphony players mixed with the powerful vocals were a great combination! If you are a student, Picnic Pops is a great event to go to. We have an instrument petting zoo station where you can test out all different types of orchestral instruments including - violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, trumpet, french horn, and trombone. Check out the Grand Rapids Symphony's website for more information on our educational concerts.
I attended another fantastic concert this summer: 2Cellos @ 20 Monroe Live. Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser are both classically trained cellists who arrange popular music for 2 cellos. They bring high energy performance to the forefront of their brand. Not only are they technically skilled, they are also talented performers who bring high energy and comedy to their shows. It was great to hear them live at 20 Monroe Live. They performed on electric cellos at this particular concert. I enjoy that they bring so many genres of music together and with a high level of skill.
Enjoy some pictures from The Moxie Strings Concert at Meijer Gardens. What a beautiful summer evening! Great music from both The Moxie Strings and The Dave Sharp World's Quintet.
In a recent Q&A session via instagram, I asked my followers if they had any questions or thoughts for any new blog posts. I needed inspiration. A friend and co-worker thought it would be a great idea to add a 'Top 10 List' of violin pieces. I thought this was such a great idea!! So here goes....My Top 10 List of Violin Solos.
Theses pieces span from Baroque, to Classical, to Romantic, to Neo-Classical. They all feature the violin as a solo instrument. I recommend you listen to all of these, let me know of your thoughts. Students, what techniques do you hear these violinists and composers using in these pieces?
What I did with this top 10 list was choose pieces that resonate with my soul. Basically, when I listen to these pieces of music I feel something, I have an emotional connection.
I also picked different soloists for each of these 10 pieces. (Some of the soloists play multiple of these). Take a listen and maybe even try to search for one of the pieces played by a different violinist. For example, Joshua Bell plays 'Aprés un Reve', the Vivaldi 'Winter' piece, and Fauré Violin Sonata Mov. 1. Listen to the versions I chose, then go back and listen to his interpretations of the same pieces. This goes back to my previous blog, each soloist has their own take on a composition, completely unique. If you wanted, you could spend an entire lifetime perfecting or changing just this list of pieces.
LF's Top 10 Violin Solos
1) 'Aprés un Reve' by Gabriel Fauré, Violinist: Janine Jansen
2) 'Suite Populaire Espagnole II - Nana' by Manuel de Falla, Violinist: James Ehnes
3) 'Musica Universalis' by Alex Baranowski, Violinist: Daniel Hope
4) 'Chaconne' by J.S. Bach, Violinist: Christian Kim
5) 'The Four Seasons - III. L'inverno: Winter' by Antonio Vivaldi, Violinist: Itzhak Perlman
6) 'Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major - I. Allegro Molto' by Gabriel Fauré, Violinist: Giora Schmidt
7) 'Violin Concerto in E minor Op. 64 Mov. III' by Felix Mendelssohn, Violinist: Hilary Hahn
*Starting at 21 minutes and 30 seconds
8) 'Chaconne' by Tomaso Antonio Vitali, Violinist: Sarah Chang
9) 'Ladies in Lavender' by Nigel Hess, Violinist: Joshua Bell
10) 'Caprice No. 24' by Nicolo Paganini, Violinist: Zia Hyunsu Shin
Hope you all enjoyed this!
P.S. Thanks for the great photo Ariel Vincent!!
Have you ever thought about the unique sounds found in nature? The leaves on the trees in the wind, crickets signaling the night, the waves crashing on the shore... There are over 10,000 different species of birds alone known today. More than 10,000! Can you imagine how many different bird songs and calls there are that you have never heard?
Have you also ever thought about the unique voices of every single person you have ever known? There are about 7.4 billion people on the planet today. Physiologically, most everyone has the same general makeup of vocal chords, throat, nose, mouth...but why do we all sound different? We have the same tools, but each and every single one of us is crafted just a bit differently. We are all unique.
When it comes to musicians and listening to different soloists, I think this comes out if you really pay close attention. Sure, there are thousands of violinists in the world. But, everyone has a different violin made of different wood, played with different emotions. Remember this. Remember how unique you are! Never think you are just another person, or that you are normal. No one is normal. Everyone is unique. Everyone plays a part in this world. Everyone has a different story to tell, different life experiences, different gifts and talents they can bring to create beauty and joy.
To my students, I challenge you to look up a piece of music you like, this can be any genre. But look it up and listen to maybe 5 different versions of it...a cover with different instruments, a different vocalist, the same musician playing it live for an audience vs. in a recording session, one with a vocalist, one without. Did you experience different emotions each time you listened to that same piece of music? What do you think after this experiment?
Enjoy the cover of 'City of Stars' that the Charmante String Quartet recorded this weekend. Check out our blog for more updates and wedding adventures.
It's wedding season again folks! Remember to check out the string quartet I manage. We have some interesting events coming up. To learn more check out our blog.
Practicing can definitely be a chore. It is a lot of work, & hard work at that if you do it correctly. Practicing an instrument is like training to run a 5k, or studying for the SAT. You have to constantly set goals for yourself and sometimes even push through working on things you may frankly just be tired of working on.
I love the violin. Sometimes I love practicing, other times I dread it. There have been a few times where I did not even want to look at my violin or pick it up. I think everyone experiences this no matter what field you are in, or what your career is or ends up being. Learning an instrument teaches you skills that pour into everyday life.
I think learning an instrument has great value for everyone, even for those who do not become 'professional musicians'. Practicing teaches you self-awareness and how to work towards goals. Self-Awareness & Goal Setting are some of the top skills for leaders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs in any field and any business.
Self-Awareness: Knowing yourself, knowing how your mind works, knowing your body, knowing when you need to stop, knowing when you need to push yourself, knowing when you need to listen, knowing when you need to play out, knowing how far you've come, knowing how far you can still go, knowing when to forgive yourself, knowing when to move on, knowing when you're stuck, knowing when you need inspiration, knowing when to rest, knowing how to motivate yourself, knowing when to ask for help, knowing your capabilities, knowing that hard work pays off even if it takes longer than you want.
As I have been practicing this past week I have been thinking a lot about how far I have come and how far I can still go. Self-awareness and goal setting have been on my mind. I hope this blog post is inspiring in a way to some of my students that may be struggling with practicing. Life is a journey, enjoy the ride! There are and will be hard times and things that may not be fun to experience, but Rome wasn't built in a day. Progress is a process. So as Julia Child said, "Find something you're passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it." If you are stuck in a practicing rut, find other interesting aspects about your music you can learn about. If you don't or can't play your instrument one day, then maybe just research the composer or listen to a recording. There are many ways to practice - physically and mentally. Keep it interesting. You never know where your passions will take you. Look at Julia Child, she starred in eight television cooking shows, published 11 cookbooks, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame. And to think she was 49 years old when her first book was published!! Wow.
Past Blog Post You May Like
Have you ever wondered what it looks like to change violin strings? Here is a snip-it. :D
Thanks for a great year of violin lessons everyone! It was such a blast to work with you all & I am so thankful for the opportunity. It was a fun group class this month. :D
I will see many of you this summer. But for those who are taking a break, have a fantastic vacation.
Follow my studio blog for tips, tricks, & performance updates.