Electric String Ensemble Checklist

Electric string ensembles in school music programs are not the far-fetched idea they once were. Hundreds of high school and middle school programs have added electric quartets, quintets and more to their existing orchestra programs. In this article, we’ll take a look at the things you’ll need to get started.

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501 Hits

Cellist Mike Block's Musical Quest

“The quest to explore different traditions from around the world outside of classical music has really felt like a quest to discover more about myself,” says Mike Block, an associate professor at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory

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680 Hits

Mike Block Remembers the Hidden Meaning Behind a Lesson

Cellist Mike Block, an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, remembers a huge moment from when he was in college at the Cleveland Institute of Music. It didn’t go as planned, but in retrospect Block sees that as a blessing.

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649 Hits

7 Ways to Help Band Directors Tackle Strings Education

Even the most accomplished band directors can feel a bit out of their league when teaching strings for the first time.  

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Improve Students’ Tone

In music, tone is distinct and identifiable, and when played correctly and in harmony within an ensemble, it sets the overall mood and quality of a performance. However, mastering tone does not come easily.

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Violinist Christian Howes’ Three Pillars of Pedagogy

In the blog post, Christian Howes: Versatile Violin Virtuoso, renowned strings performer and educator Christian Howes explains why he started Creative Strings Academy. His pedagogy is comprised of what he calls "a trifecta of pillars" in order to expand students' understanding of music.

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1134 Hits

Christian Howes: Versatile Violin Virtuoso

At 15 years old, violin virtuoso Christian Howes found himself envious of his school's last-chair second violinist. Howes recalls how that classmate was composing and recording his own original songs. 

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1273 Hits

How to Choose an Amplifier for Your Electric String Instrument

Perhaps you are a violinist, violist, cellist or bassist considering the world of electric strings. After deciding to "plug in," your next question is probably: "Plug in to what?"

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686 Hits

Electric Strings: The Power of Plugging In

Many years ago I was presenting a workshop entitled "The Power of Strings: Plugging In!" at a statewide music educators conference. The participants were all music teachers who had never played electric string instruments but were either planning to purchase some for their schools, were simply curious … or, in one case, outright skeptical.

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777 Hits

Pros and Cons for Pickups, Microphones and Electric Strings

We orchestral string players are used to playing acoustically … until we're asked to play in a situation where the sound from our instrument isn't going to project enough or cut through a louder group of instrumentalists.

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846 Hits

New to Teaching Strings?

After years of teaching band, you've just been told that you must also teach beginning orchestra. Panic sets in as you realize you don't know how to position your fingers, and you fear making screeching sounds in front of your students.

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1011 Hits

My String Instrument is Making a Weird Sound — What is It?

It is inevitable in the life of every string player that they will encounter a sudden distracting buzzing sound coming from their instrument. Fixes can range from the simplest of tweaks to a major repair that requires a skilled luthier.

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844 Hits

Black Violin Dares Students to Dream Big

While in high school in the 1990s, Kevin Marcus Sylvester programmed his cell phone to play a Busta Rhymes rap song. The customized ringtone amazed his orchestra-mates, who eventually transcribed the whole piece and played it regularly together in class. 

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1395 Hits

Five Tips to Grow an Orchestra Program

In the blog "Case Study: How to Grow a High School Orchestra Program," we described the steps taken by Kenny Baker, orchestra director for Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada to greatly expand his school's orchestral program. Here are his five tips for success.

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1320 Hits

Case Study: How to Grow a High School Orchestra Program

The halls of Robert McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, are buzzing with excitement and anticipation for the summer. It's not the typical end-of-the-school-year eagerness that has these teenagers bouncing in their seats; it's a 16-day tour of Europe, featuring the McQueen High School Orchestra.

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1494 Hits

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