FOCUS

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

Focus Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ask the Experts: How to make the best use of limited practice time

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

In the seventh of the series, four specialists in practice techniques advise a busy amateur musician how to make the most of his limited rehearsal time.

Do you have a...

Focus Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Survival tips for touring musicians

International tours bring a wealth of opportunities for discovering new cultures and audiences – along with less pleasant experiences such as jet lag and homesickness. Sarah Mnatzaganian asks string players for their travel tips

Travel has always been an inescapable dimension of musical life, from the wanderings of medieval minstrels to the jet-setting of today’s soloists. When your manager mentions your next tour, does...

Focus Friday, 20 June 2014

10 useful business skills for musicians

You need flexibility and business acumen as well as talent to stand out from the crowd in today’s rapidly changing music world, argues double bassist-turned-agent Corrado Canonici

There are few who would claim that it’s easy to make a living in classical music. More and more well-qualified musicians enter the business every day, at the same time that orchestras, promoters...

Focus Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cellist Pablo Casals on expressive intonation

The great artist believed that 50 per cent of a player's total dramatic power lay in exaggerated intonation, writes former pupil Pamela Hind O'Malley

Casals has long been accepted as the greatest of all string players. His playing was marked by a unique fusion of musicality and technique. But, while many of his technical innovations have now passed...

Focus Tuesday, 17 June 2014

How to develop an expressive vibrato

Just one beautiful note is all we need as a starter for a gorgeous vibrato, writes Phyllis Young

The fascinating technique of vibrato is actually based on something very ordinary and common, so we should never be afraid of it. After all, we have been shaking things since we spotted the rattle in...

Focus Monday, 16 June 2014

Tips for proper bow maintenance

There’s more to looking after your bow than simply replacing the hair. Peg Baumgartel gives advice on everything from monitoring straightness to identifying cracks

Maintaining your bow is as important as maintaining your instrument, yet many players do not know what this entails beyond replacing the hair. Your bow can bring you countless hours of enjoyment and...

Focus Friday, 13 June 2014

Teaching a stringed instrument you have never played before

What do you do if you’re asked to teach a stringed instrument that isn’t the one you play? ‘Don’t panic!’ That’s the first rule, according to the experts that Ariane Todes asked

There’s a scene in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall where the hapless hero, sent down from Oxford and taking up employment at a minor public school, is faced with giving organ lessons for...

Focus Thursday, 12 June 2014

7 mental techniques to boost your practice

Effective practice without the frustration and drudgery? Piet Koornhot looks at ways to direct your imagination.

We all know the joke about the lost tourist who asks a passer-by in New York, 'How do I get to Carnegie Hall?' and gets the reply, 'Practise, practise!'

Many musicians have resigned themselves...

Focus Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Harnessing breathing to improve your string playing

Breathing naturally is one of the first principles of Alexander teaching - and it's a must for anyone who suffers from stage fright, says Joseph Sanders

These days most musicians have some knowledge of the Alexander Technique. Many have had Alexander lessons at school or college, or have at least heard about it from friends or teachers. When people ...

Focus Tuesday, 10 June 2014

How to breathe freely when playing a stringed instrument

Ruth Phillips describes how she persuades musicians to rediscover their body and their instrument through the gentle art of inhaling

The in-breath followed by the out-breath is a form of expansion and contraction, which is the essence of bowing; it is receiving and giving inspiration, which is the essence of performance; it is tension...

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