FOCUS

Ariane Todes selects her favourite stories and interviews from The Strad website and beyond

Focus Monday, 01 September 2014

Scales and exercises are essential for all string players, says Heinrich Schiff

Not all players regard exercises as important, but without a sound technical basis you cannot achieve your expressive potential, writes the cellist

Some 25 years of teaching have taught me that we players must always define what each of our motions at the cello represents - this is essential in order for us to be efficient artists capable of technical...

Focus Thursday, 28 August 2014

Why do so many orchestras lag behind the beat?

Even under the best conductors and in the finest orchestras, players tend to drag behind the baton. Evan Johnson looks at the reasons for this universal phenomenon

Conductors often urge orchestras not to play behind their beat, but players, though they may respond by looking more attentive, often continue to lag. Some conductors interpret this as incompetence ...

Focus Friday, 22 August 2014

Ask the Experts: how to deal with a young problem pupil

Strad readers submit their problems and queries about string playing, teaching or making to a panel of experts

In the ninth of the series, four teachers give their thoughts on helping an errant seven-year-old focus on her lessons.

Do you have a burning question about string playing...

Focus Monday, 18 August 2014

Studying the violin with Jascha Heifetz

Sherry Kloss, Heifetz's assistant at the University of Southern California, and the recipient of his Tononi violin, shares some memories of her teacher and mentor

My association with the Master began in 1974 in Palm Springs California, where I had just been chosen a winner of a major competition. The Dean of the University of Southern California asked me if I...

Focus Friday, 15 August 2014

How to develop left-hand finger strength

Up and down movement is the basis of left-hand technique and many pedagogues have invented fiendish exercises to improve it. Rok Klopčič takes a look at some of them

To play even the most simple melody we must stop the string in order to define pitch, making vertical finger motion the central element of left-hand technique. As a result it has received much attention...

Focus Thursday, 14 August 2014

6 tips for smooth bow changes

Advice on smooth and inaudible bow changes at the tip and the heel from The Strad’s archives

The problem of effecting a smooth and inaudible change of bow at the nut (most players do it well at the point) is one that long occupied the thoughts of our greatest teachers. The consensus seems to...

Focus Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Me and my teacher: Dan Styffe and Gary Karr

The double bass virtuoso taught Styffe how to control the pressures of the world outside the teaching studio

I started on the violin and the electric bass. I didn’t play the double bass until I was 17 and then it was by mistake. I went to music school to learn the electric bass and get into jazz and ...

Focus Tuesday, 12 August 2014

How to bow with absolute precision

Awareness of the movement of each right-hand finger is one of the great secrets of bowing, writes Rok Klopčič

There are at least two different concepts of right-hand hold in the violin literature. One is that of Galamian, who wrote that it is ‘based on a system of springs’; and the other is that...

Focus Friday, 08 August 2014

How to phrase feedback get the best from your student

Are the words teachers use helping or harming their students? Femke Colborne learns from psychologists and string instructors that the way feedback is phrased can dramatically affect a student’s progress

In the past few years, a number of studies have shown that praising a student’s effort helps them progress, whereas repeatedly telling a student how talented they are can make them arrogant and...

Focus Thursday, 07 August 2014

Record instrument prices of the past

The sale of the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius violin for £9.8m in 2011 broke all auction records, but high prices for instruments are nothing new, writes Benjamin Hebbert

The appraisal of instruments' values started early. Already at the beginning of the 17th century, musical instrument connoisseurs had begun to distinguish between the qualities of new...

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