FOCUS

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

Focus Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Stringed instrument myths exposed

So you’ve heard the one about the old masters using insect wings in their varnish, and the one where you can spit on your instrument to see if it’s cracked – but are the stories true? Vicky Hancock consults the experts

Myths, tales, received wisdom – whatever name you give the gems of information floating around in the string world, there’s always the question of whether they’re actually true or ...

Focus Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ask the Experts: protecting your instrument in hot and humid temperatures

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

In the eighth of the series, four luthiers and restorers advise a musician on how to care for her instrument during the hot summer months.Do you have a burning question about...

Focus Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Is repetitive practice a good or a bad thing?

A prolonged, sickening and monotonous repetition of a section of music or the legitimate means of mastering a difficult passage? Joseph O'Doherty weighs up the two sides.

Should repetitive practice be abolished or should it be retained in pupils' home practice? One cannot not answer these questions properly unless it is clearly understood what exactly is meant by 'repetitive...

Focus Tuesday, 22 July 2014

From the Archive: The Strad responds to the declaration of World War I

A month after the beginning of the First World War, The Strad's editorial reflected on tough times ahead for classical music ― from reductions in funding to the folly of banning works by German composers

What effect the war will have upon the musical world remains to be seen. That things will suffer greatly can hardly be doubted; one has only to remember the early days of the South African campaign....

Focus Monday, 21 July 2014

Are modern instrument cleaners better than their past equivalents?

Turpentine, garlic and warm beer were all ingredients in instrument cleaners of the past. Are modern cleaners any better? Padraig ó Dubhlaoidh examines a far from spotless history

My dictionary defines ‘accessory’ in two ways: firstly, as ‘an additional or extra thing – contributing or aiding in a minor way – dispensable’ and secondly, as one...

Focus Thursday, 17 July 2014

How to balance physical, mental and emotional aspects of your playing

Playing an instrument is not just a physical feat – it requires a musician’s hands, head and heart to work together in perfect combination. Pedro de Alcantara explains how to achieve better coordination between the three

We tend to compartmentalise different aspects of our lives. Into one box we put things that we consider physical: the body, movement, posture, tension and relaxation. Into a second box goes all that...

Focus Thursday, 17 July 2014

6 insights into teaching the double bass by Mary Condliffe

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama professor shares her methods for teaching bass students

Encourage relaxation and flexibility from the outsetI get beginner pupils comfortable with holding the bow and moving it, making sure they’re relaxed and not gripping. I aim for...

Focus Tuesday, 15 July 2014

7 pointers for perfect pizzicato

Advice on plucking and strumming from 120 years of The Strad

Many cellists feel that pizzicato is simply plucking the string and they give little thought as to how to do so. Within the musical context, however, there are a variety of reasons that pizzicato is...

Focus Friday, 11 July 2014

Are quartets of matched instruments the way to perfect harmony?

Four instruments from the same tree, varnished from the same pot, played by a single quartet. Does this make a better ensemble? Katherine Millett investigates

Television cameras greeted the Miró Quartet’s arrival at Alice Tully Hall, New York, in February 2003. ABC News ran an evening feature about the concert and the New York Times raved about...

Focus Thursday, 10 July 2014

6 tips for teaching young violinists by Suzuki instructor Teri Einfeldt

The University of Hartford Suzuki Department chair shares her methods for teaching children

Encourage parental involvementI ask all potential students and their parents to observe six beginner-level lessons before they start. This way the child and the parents can see what...

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